Alan Rich
May 10, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Glagolithic Mass

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Leos Janacek, Robert Shaw
genre
Classical

We gave it an A-

Completed in 1926, two years before his death, Leos Janácek’s Glagolithic Mass is one of music’s true loners. At its core stands the familiar text of the Mass, set not in the customary Latin but in the millennia-old Slavonic tongue from Janacek’s native Moravia. With blazing brass invocations and ritualistic chanting from the chorus, Janacek underlined the cross-cultural duality; his music sounds the way Byzantine mosaics look: the clash of color, the illusion of infinite space. Compared with other performances of the work, Shaw’s reading may seem somewhat gentlemanly, but no one has ever gotten better singing out of a chorus. A-

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