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Vorísek: Symphony in D; Mass in B-Flat. Paul Freeman, conductor, Czech National SO, with Patrice Michaels, soprano, Tami Jantzi, mezzo-soprano, William Watson, tenor, Peter Van De Graaff, bass, and the Prague Chamber Choir. Çedille CDR 90000 058 (60:35)
This is a wonderful release that contains two impressive scores by a seriously underrated composer who died much too young. Duke's Paul Bryan, who has spent much of his life exploring music from Vorísek's period, reminds me that he often cited this Symphony "as an excellent example of the fact that there were worthy composers at that time other than Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven." The work is fairly well known, even in live performances, and is widely considered Vorísek's finest score, but in truth we have no way of gauging that for ourselves because so little of his music is in circulation.
The Mass is impressive in every respect, and the notes - by Andrea Lamoreaux - do it full justice. The booklet, which is in English only, includes a five-page essay on the composer and these two works plus the text (and a translation) of the Mass, all in reasonably large type. Paul Freeman conducts the Czech orchestra he has headed since 1996. His vocal soloists are accomplished singers, nicely matched and very well balanced, too, and the Prague Chamber Chorus performs with great presence and evident involvement in the Mass. Collectors who specialize in this music are likely to have other recordings of the Symphony but Freeman's is an outstanding reading and of course the Mass makes acquisition of this excellent Çedille CD a virtual necessity for those with any interest in Vorísek or his era.