The Glagolitic Mass and Cantatas
Liturgical music only interested Janácek in his youth. It was not until the very end of his life that he created his major sacred work, which is one of the greatest of its genre in European music of the twentieth century. His “Glagolitic Mass” (Msa glagolskaja) to words in Old Church Slavonic has a tangled genesis that poses a considerable challenge to any editor. There are numerous differences between the version of the premiere performance in Brno (5 December 1927) and the version of the Prague premiere in April 1928, which was further revised by the composer for the first printed edition. This led the experienced Janácek editor Jirí Zahrádka to present two separate scores – one (together with Leos Faltus) of the better-known last authorised version and one of the “September 1927” version; both versions have been published in separate volumes in the Complete Critical Edition of the Works of Leos Janácek. The last authorised version is still the primary performance choice; it has a richer instrumentation, is at times more concise, and it is easier to rehearse.
Choral works were a major part of Janácek’s oeuvre throughout his life, but only rarely did he combine them with orchestra: his legacy contains just two cantatas with mixed choir set to the verses of Jaroslav Vrchlicky – “Amarus” and “The Eternal Gospel” – and one with male chorus set to the words of Maxmilián Kurt – “Na Soláni carták” (Carták on the Soláň). All three cantatas are included in Series B of the Complete Critical Edition of the Works of Leos Janácek.