- Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1:112
Name the best-loved performances of Smetana's "Má Vlast"? Vaclav Talich's passionate 1929 recording, his affectionate 1941 recording, or his magisterial 1954 recording? Rafael Kubelik's ardent 1952 recording, his lyrical 1971 recording, or his emotional 1990 recording? Right every time. Now name the most forgotten performances of Smetana's "Má Vlast." Paavo Berglund's uncomprehending 1978 recording, Zubin Mehta's exaggerated 1991 recording, or Nikolaus Harnoncourt's excessive 2001 recording? Right again. While this impromptu musical quiz doesn't conclusively prove anything, a trend does become obvious -- Czechs conduct "Má Vlast" better than non-Czechs in some ineffable but undeniable way. For a Czech conductor, the six tone poems in Smetana's symphonic cycle are the musical incarnation of his/her country and every melody, harmony, and rhythm is redolent of his/her homeland. For a non-Czech conductor, "Má Vlast" is inevitably an acquired taste and so far only the Czech-by-training Charles Mackerras has captured something of the work's sense of ardent patriotism. Even so sympathetic a conductor as Colin Davis leading so fine an orchestra as the London Symphony cannot quite catch the strong nationalist flavor of "Má Vlast." Although Davis' Dvorák's recordings are rightly prized for their strength and sensitivity, Davis' "Má Vlast," while superbly conducted and colorfully executed, fails to get beneath the skin of the music. Listeners whose hearts swell at the majestic harp chords of "Vysehrad," whose pulse quickens at rolling woodwinds of "Vltava," or whose eyes tear up at the heroic brass of "Blaník" may be left impressed but unmoved by Davis and the LSO's performance. LSO Live's sound is a bit dry, a little cramped, and slightly recessed.
|Label:||Lso Live Uk|