Notes & Reviews:
Smetana's tragic opera Dalibor, premiered in 1868, is now acknowledged not only as a masterpiece but also a work containing some of his greatest music. It tells a tale of knightly ideals, chivalry, love and loyalty. Thought it received a cool reception, Smetana always had faith that one day it would be appreciated and stand alongside The Bartered Bride. Recorded live at the Barbican Hall in London, Jiri Belohlavek leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra and an all-Czech cast in a performance that, "honored the full beauty of the score" (The Independent).
The Telegraph, 21st November 2015
A performance as gloriously idiomatic as this... shows how much we have all been missing and makes a full staging of the work all the more urgent ... Jiri Belohlavek it finds its ideal interpreter: the conductor has the lightest but firmest of touches, never allowing the pageantry to degenerate into bombastic pomp and circumstance but giving full rein to all the noble ardour that palpitates through the score. The BBC Symphony Orchestra plays with elegant clarity and a keen sense of drama, while the cast of native Czech singers is a revelation ... The BBC Singers make a fervent contribution too ... [an] admirable recording.
MusicWeb International, 4th December 2015
As Dalibor himself, Richard Samek has a golden, heroic tenor that does the job beautifully ... The orchestra play this unfamiliar music with great skill, and the BBC Singers throw themselves into the work, both in spirit and in pronunciation.
Opera Now, January 2016
Belohlavek's championing of Dalibor ensures a passionate performance and the BBC Symphony Orchestra plays with style. The singers are classy too.
Gramophone Magazine, January 2016
If there's one conductor you want in this repertoire, it's Jiri Belohl▀vek... Samek is a pleasing Dalibor, not the most heroic tenor, but sweet-toned...Bura▄ov▀ makes a strong impression as Milada, especially in the Act 2 love duet...Pol▀ckov▀ nearly steals the performance as Jitka...The playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is excellent; you'd almost have to pinch yourself to believe that you weren't listening to Belohl▀vek's Czech Philharmonic.
BBC Music Magazine, February 2016
Belohl▀vek creates a proper sense of the numinous from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, above all in the solos of leader, harpist and two horns, exquisitely haloed. Belohl▀vek leaves us in no doubt that Smetana's subtle score, with its fascinating transitions between scenes, is a masterpiece. It's full of unusual harmonies and interesting, proto-Tchaikovskyan wind choruses.
Opera, April 2016
The cast is thrillingly led by the bright star of a Dalibor...[Samek] looks set to become the most complete lyric-heroic Czech tenor for decades...Above all, this is Belohlavek's triumph. Nobody knows better how to layer Smetana's musical building blocks into an idiomatic, coherent edifice, sweeping us along with a concentration that is no less powerful for being so firmly controlled ... a mighty reading which gives enormous satisfaction.
Recording information: Barbican Concert Hall, London (05/12/2015).
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Works DetailsSmetana, Bedrich : Dalibor, B 133/T 96 :: 101
- Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
- Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
- Running Time: 4 min. 25 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1867-1870
- Studio/Live: Live