Bedrich Smetana: Ma Vlast
By Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra and Kuchar. By Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884). Classical. 1 listening CD. Published by Brilliant Classics (NX.BRI94853).
Item Number: NX.BRI94853
Bedrich Smetana was a forerunner of the Nationalist music movement in 19th-century Czechoslovakia, and played a large part in developing the country's musical identity. This disc comprises Smetana's most renowned work, the inimitable Ma vlast (My Homeland), a series of six tone poems - composed over five years - that depict different elements of the landscape of the composer's native country. Vysehrad, or The High Castle, is the first movement, based on the castle in Prague - the residence of early Czech kings. It opens with arpeggios played by a duo of harps, and later a military element is portrayed with the help of a march theme. The second movement Vltava (The Moldau), depicts the route of the river from the mountains to its end. Sarka, the third movement, explores the Czech folklore centred on the Bohemian Amazon maiden of the same name. This is followed by Z ceskych luhu a haju (From Bohemia's Meadows and Fields); a depiction of a beautiful landscape on a sunny day. These first four movements were intended to complete the work, but after a gap of four years Smetana composed another two: Tabor, portraying the Hussite warriors who founded and defended the city of Tabor in 1420, and Blanik, named after the mountain in central Bohemia. This, the final movement, begins with the same driving rhythms as Tabor and later relents into a joyful hymn. It is easy to see how this work paved the way for Smetana to be heralded as one of Czechoslovakia's greatest composers and patriots. The works are performed by the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Theodore Kuchar. The cycle Ma Vlast by Smetana is an ode to the composer's motherland Bohemia, singing the praises of the lush countryside, proud and venerable cities, majestic mountains and the force of nature in the country's most important river, the Vltava (the Moldau). 'seldom sounded more spontaneous...truly sparkles...full of the necessary romantic blood...performance: 9', thus wrote ClassicsToday about these performances by the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Theodore Kuchar, musicians who share the same deep national roots of these works.
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