Composer: Bedřich Smetana
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.0, 2.0
Label: LSO Live
Size: 4.18 GB
Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra
Smetana – Má vlast
01. I Vysehrad
02. II Vltava
03. III Sárka
04. IV Z ceských luhu a háju
05. V Tábor
06. VI Blaník
Recorded May 2005, Barbican, London
Inspired by the mythology & pastoral beauty of his Czech homeland, Smetana’s 6 tone poems that form Má vlast (My Fatherland) is 1 of the best examples of Nationalism in music. The stirring 2nd movement depicts the river Vltava as it flows through the countryside & into Prague. Struck with deafness in 1874, Smetana would never hear a performance of what would become his most popular work
‘Má Vlast’ is the ultimate Nationalist musical composition. The title means ‘My Country’ & it’s opening bars are probably as well known to the average Czech, as ‘Land of Hope & Glory’ is to the average Brit.
The 6 movements that make up Smetana’s gloriously chauvinistic hymn to the Czech nation were 1st performed in what is now the Smetana Concert Hall in Prague in 1882. There are now annual performances in the Smetana Hall & ‘Má Vlast’ is regularly performed as the opening concert of the Prague Spring Festival.
It was therefore something more than a surprise when the London Symphony Orchestra & Sir Colin Davis were invited to give the opening concert of the Prague Spring in 2005 & the piece they were asked to play was ‘Má Vlast’. This could have been seen as a rather impertinent example of taking coals to Newcastle, but Sir Colin & the LSO are never ones to duck a challenge & the performance was a huge success.
Many members of the Czech Philharmonic were in the audience & after the performance – with extraordinary generosity – they congratulated their London colleagues & Sir Colin on bringing a fresh perspective to Smetana’s iconic work. After opening the Prague Spring the LSO gave 2 further performances of ‘Má Vlast’ at the Barbican & it is from these performances that the present recording is taken. The Czechs were ecstatic about LSO’s reading of Smetana’s masterpiece. We hope you are too.
Colin Davis & the LSO turn in a vivid, exciting account of Smetana’s perennially fresh, dramatic cycle of tone poems … the best performances of this work must convey a sense of occasion, of a big event taking place … Davis & the LSO have managed to capture this elusive quality.
There can be no mistaking the conviction that he brings to the cycle … Davis never loses sight of the outcome – the main motifs coalescing into an apotheosis both uninhibited & triumphant.
~ International Record Review
Colin Davis has an affinity with Czech music that is every bit as strong as his better-known sympathy with Berlioz or Mozart … a performance that welds the 6 portraits into a convincing whole. The LSO plays with warmth & grandeur & the recorded balance is 1 of the most successful in this series.
~ Daily Telegraph
Amazon review by john563:
New highs for recording techniques.
By pure coincidence I put on a CD called ‘James Levine dirigert’ from Deutsche Grammophon the night before I received the LSO disc in the mail. On the CD from DG there is a recording of Die Moldau (Vltava) from 1987, which I had forgotten all about. DG is known for good recordings also, but when I heard the new version the next day in SACD Mch, it was almost as if it is not the same music. The recording techniques have improved so much over the last few years to capture much more of the dynamics in the music, & the Mch adds more space & transparency to it. If you still not have a SACD player, you proberly don’t know what you’re missing. Don’t hesitate to buy 1 – the prices are for everyone to afford now. Just a hint 🙂