- Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1:112
Widely regarded as Bedrich Smetana's greatest hit, "The Moldau" is but one part of the orchestral cycle "Má Vlast" (My Country), which contains six tone poems on different Czech nationalist subjects. Smetana composed these epic works in the manner of Franz Liszt's tone poems, evoking dramatic images through colorful orchestration and painting natural and historical scenes through themes and harmonies of a pronounced Bohemian character. One might suppose that only a Czech orchestra could play this music with the proper intensity, but the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, under Claus Peter Flor, gives a stirring account that can rival any performance anywhere for energy, passion, and atmosphere. Indeed, if Smetana's music communicates so convincingly that an orchestra from half a world away can faithfully and enthusiastically interpret it, one might well say it touches universal emotions of pride and patriotism and can be performed effectively by any world-class ensemble. This 2009 recording in the super audio format captures the rich sonorities of the Malaysian Philharmonic with appealing presence and warmth, and the wide dynamic range delivers all the subtle changes of emphasis in the dance rhythms that give it added interest. Listeners who love "The Moldau" should definitely become familiar with the full "Má Vlast," and this exceptional recording provides a version that will satisfy both newcomers and fans of Smetana.