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SIR CHARLES MACKERRAS - A Life with Czech Music:
Dvorak & Smetana; Janacek & Martinu

(complete Supraphon non-operatic recordings)

Jealousy (original prelude to Jenufa)
The Cunning Little Vixen - Suite
Sárka, overture
Taras Bulba
Káta Kabanová: Overture & Interludes
Schluch und Jau, music for Gerhart Hauptmann's play
Glagolitic Mass
Amarus - Cantata for Soloists, Mixed Chorus and Orchestra


Glagolitic Mass
(first version)
Jealousy (original prelude to Jenufa)
Taras Bulba


Julietta: orchestral suite
Field Mass
Double Concerto for Strings, Piano & Timpani
Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca

Dvořák: Slavonic Dances, Symphonies Nos. 6, 8 and 9, Symphonic Variations, Legends, Scherzo capriccioso, In Nature’s Realm, Symphonic Poems.
Smetana: My Country.

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra/Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras

Supraphon: SU 4041-2 [6 CDs] SU40422 [4 CDs & 1 DVD]

Sir Charles Mackerras (1925 - July 2010) was based in London for more than 60 years, and has been important to us over most of those years.

I recall vividly a less than auspicious first impression - his conducting Britten's Let's make an opera in London as a rather gauche young man, uncomfortable chatting up the audience of children and parents...

But not very long afterwards he became a reliable fixture in London's concert life, and on recordings, and latterly was locally active with my local Trinity College of Music, etc etc. A particular privilege was to be closely involved with his recording of Purcell's Ode 1692 (it is too easily forgotten that he was a pioneer in historical performance of baroque music and Mozart operas...).

These modestly priced memorial boxes of his non-operatic recordings are highly desirable. We went first for the Janacek DVD, which is a fine memento in itself, Taras Bulba and the Glagolithic mass both of them spectacular and overwhelming seen in live performance at Prague, the audiences reluctant to let him go. The mainly Dvorak box has a lengthy interview; well, a monologue reminiscence of his early musical life - the interviewer doesn't get a word in - which is valuable to put Sir Charles' work in Prague in perspective.

We have recently reviewed several memorial events in honour of aspects of Mackerras' work in UK; these boxes of recordings are splendid compilations of his orchestral work in the Czechoslavakia that went back into the communist era (he deplored it politically but musically it was good) and they promise countless hours of enjoyment.

If you have any doubts, try his swift and vivacious take on Dvorak's still infrequently given but masterly Symphonic Variations (which became an enduring favourite of mine through Sir Henry Wood...) and almost anything in the Janacek collection.

Peter Grahame Woolf