Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bedrich Smetana, Sir Charles Mackerras, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra|
Bedrich Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country - A Cycle of Symphonic Poems) - Sir Charles Mackerras / Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Worth the Wait !
D. Roth | Pleasant Hill, Ca | 12/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sir Charles has been a great champion of Czech music for four decades, usually focussing his insight and craftsmanship to Twentieth Century composers such as Martinu and, especially, Janacek. I have hoped he would turn in time to Smetana and he has, with great results. Vysehrad opens with a very sustained tempo. You really feel an epic tale is going to be told. The agitated middle section and the plaintive closing contrast powerfully, with the closing wind solos as eloquent as I,ve ever heard them.Vltava's pictorial sections, as the writer below says, are unmistakeable. They are also beautifully contrasted, with the final peroration a true climax. One thing you will notice is the style of the Czech Phil.'s playing: The soft sections feature great clarity in solo playing and orchestral balance. The grand climaxes feature an unusually warm, blended sonority, like we used to hear in European performances in the 50's and before.Sarka also benefits from this playing, but when the middle dance sequence arrives, it really moves!Bohemia's Fields and Woods is just fabulous! The opening cry from the orchestra is both very powerful and astonishingly clear. The dying strings just before the wind entry, have never 'spoken' so eloquently. The dance sequence again has fresh color and vitality.The last two symphonic poems, Tabor and Blanik, form a single final movement. Many otherwise fine performances, such as Levine's and even Berglund's get a little predictable as the music treads toward the final triumphal march. Mackerras and the orchestra find both real drama and color throughout both pieces. Even the early statements of the Hussite chorale have a feeling of exaltation contrasting well with the suddenly peaceful middle section of Blanik. The end returns to the broad pace which opened Vysehrad, and with the glowing orchestral playing generates a real sense of culmination rather than bombast.Confidently recommended as a great introduction to Ma Vlast or as an addition to a Smetana collection. ( I really suspect that, like me, if you own one Czech performance of this work, you probably own many others.) Talich ( the 1950 performance), Kubelik, Ancerl, and Neumann have all made beautiful recordings of MV. This one easily joins thier ranks."
One Of The Great Performances Of Smetana's "Ma Vlast"
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 12/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sound quality purists may find this recording objectionable, since it doesn't quite rise to the standards attained by the likes of Deutsche Grammophon or Teldec. However, don't let this dissuade you from acquiring one of the finest recordings of "Ma Vlast" I've heard, ranking alongside classic recordings by Rafael Kubelik. Sir Charles Mackerras is noted for being one of our foremost interpreters of Czech classical music; it was well worth the wait to hear his spellbinding, riveting interpretation of Smetana's tone poem cycle. The Czech Philharmonic's performance is replete with the warmth and atmosphere I have heard in classic 1950's and 1960's recordings made by the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic; it is surely one of the last great orchestras still retaining a classic Central European sound. The caliber of playing is comparable to what I've heard in recent recordings by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Dresden Staatskapelle. The Czech Philharmonic's string and wood sections possess a vibrant, rich tone quite akin to those of these distinguished eastern German orchestras. Fans of 19th Century Eastern European Romantic music should not ignore this fine CD."
lnbel | San Francisco, CA United States | 02/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this recording not realizing that it was live. The quality of the performance is high; the piece is performed beautifully.However, I find that classical pieces recorded live do not sound as good as studio recordings. You can always hear some background tinniness and noise during quiet parts, and the presumed tradeoffs -- the power of a live performance -- are still not quite captured on CD.If you haven't had exposure to live classical recordings, I would say to avoid them, although that's just a personal preference. If you like them, then this is a great CD. And if you love Ma Vlast and want another version to add to your collection, this is a fabulous performance -- when the recording environment doesn't get into the way."