On April 28, Naxos releases the second of a three-disc series of recordings of orchestral suites created from operas by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. The second volume of suites, arranged and conducted by Czech-born Peter Breiner, features performances by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The two suites in the release include orchestral themes and vocal material from the scores of Janáček’s romantic tragedy Kát’a Kabanová (1921) and his fantastical The Makropoulos Affair (1926). A third and final volume of Janáček/Breiner suites, including music from his operas The Cunning Little Vixen and From The House of the Dead, is slated for future release. Composer, arranger, pianist, and conductor Peter Breiner, who has contributed to over 100 Naxos recordings, received a special commission to create the suites exclusively for the label. Breiner is a passionate advocate for the music of his fellow Czech compatriot, with whom he shares a birthday, July 3. Breiner also played in an orchestra based in Brno, Czech Republic, for two years, which is where Janáček spent a lot of his time and saw many of his works premiered.
Breiner notes that the project is the first time that selected material from Janáček’s operas appears in purely instrumental form. Regarding the first set of suites featuring music from Jenůfa and The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, previously released by Naxos in February 2009, Breiner remarked: “These are not your regular suites, which would only include the orchestral music from the operas (overture, interludes, preludes, postludes, and intermezzos) … These suites have plenty of material that was originally vocal (solos, duets, choruses) and was ‘converted’ into instrumental music.” Breiner’s challenge was to choose the highest quality excerpts and themes that were most representative from each opera, cautiously editing and revising them to ultimately create fresh orchestral suites that would appropriately reflect the composer’s distinctive style and colorful aesthetic.