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Janacek, Leos: "Taras Bulba"; "Sinfonietta." Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra , David Zinman conductor. PHILIPS 9500 874 -- This is the standard coupling for Janacek orchestral works, and is has some competition with Rafael Kubelik on DG and Karel Ancerl on Quintessence. But Zinman's "Taras Bulba" is so refreshingly straightforward, it demands to be considered as a serious competitor in the "best performance" contest record reviewers always play. The orchestra performs well, Zinman's attention to balances and inner detail is quite unusual, and he manages to make utter sense of Janacek's unusual idiom -- something not all conductors seem able to do this. His "Sinfonietta" is a bit too suave and understated, lacking the special excitement on the flip side. But it is a fine recording, and the "Sinfonietta" has compensating merits for those who might already have this coupling in their collection.

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