Two glorious Czech masterpieces are presented on this 2014 release from Alpha, performed on period instruments by the exceptional Anima Eterna Brugge, directed by Jos van Immerseel. Considering that Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World" was completed in 1893, and Leos Janácek's Sinfonietta dates from 1926, and the period instruments movement mostly has been concerned with Baroque and Classical era works, original instrumentation might strike some listeners as odd. Yet performances in the late 19th and early 20th centuries called for instruments that differ substantially in construction and tone quality from modern models, and the variety of timbres was much greater with handmade instruments than the homogenized sounds of today's mass-produced woodwinds and brass.
With the rise of Romanticism, the topics of opera changed from the mythological fantasy of Baroque operas to the fairytale fantasy which graced the French stage long before Romanticism reached other European nations. Initiated by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, this project is built like a universal fairytale, inspired by Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard, and others, as set to music by French composers of the Romantic period, alternating between famous composers such as Offenbach and Rossini and little known masters like Viardot, Silver, and Isouard. This imaginary opera was conceived and transcribed by Alexandre Dratwicki for piano quartet and two singers- a soprano and a mezzo, the roles of which are performed here by Jodie Devos and Caroline Meng.