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Smetana: Ma Vlast; Nature's Realm / Dorati - Concertgebouw

Audio Samples

>Smetana, Bedrich : Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1
>     112
>Dvorak, Antonin : In Nature's Realm (V prírode), concert overture, B. 168 (Op. 91)

Album Summary

>Smetana, Bedrich : Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1
>Dvorak, Antonin : In Nature's Realm (V prírode), concert overture, B. 168 (Op. 91)
Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Smetana's Má vlast (My Country) embodies both Czech nationhood and the country's legendary history and was written when Smetana was at the height of his creative powers. These performances, recorded in 1986 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, have all the familiar warm ambience of the Concertgebouw Hall, with playing that is brisk and alert.

Classical Candor
With Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Newton Classics' current reissued Philips recording, we get spirited, red-blooded accounts of all six episodes of the score, with plenty of color and characterization. The performances perhaps lack something of the subtlety and stylishness of several rival versions, like those from Neumann (Berlin Classics), Kubelik (Supraphon), Berglund (EMI), Pesek (Virgin), and Wit (Naxos), but Dorati's energy, vivaciousness, animation, and warmth more than make up for any minor concerns.

Originally recorded by Philips in 1986 and issued by them on a single CD, the 2011 reissued Newton Classics edition spreads Ma Vlast over two discs to good effect. As we might expect from a Philips recording of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, it's quite realistic, capturing the spacious hall acoustic without sacrificing too much detail or definition. The sound is wide, deep, and expansive, with fine dynamics, adequate bass and highs, and a midrange well balanced with the extremes. While the sound is not completely transparent, with a slightly reverberant overall effect, it is quite natural and welcome.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (10/1986).



Reviews

Vital Smetana & Dvorak
Newton Classics has been re-releasing some outstanding classic recordings recently; this time last year I was very impressed with their repackaged Decca disc of Spanish music played by Alicia de Larrocha. Here comes another: two discs from Antal Dorati recorded at the Concertgebouw by Decca in 1986.

Smetana's Ma vlast (My country) includes six movements, but most music lovers know only The Moldau, with its famous river theme. That theme was featured in Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life; look for the movie's trailer on YouTube to see how Malick uses The Moldau theme to represent life itself. The movement, and the entire tone poem, is perfectly framed by Dorati, beautifully played by the Dutch musicians, and presented in sparkling, clear, lifelike sound by the Decca engineers. By the way, the version used in Malick's film is by Vaclav Smetacek and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, on Supraphon, which is a classic recording as well, and, of course, completely authentic. But there is no lack of authenticity in this performance as well, as Dorati brings out the best of Bohemian music with a middle-European flavour and world-class musicians. Make sure you take the time to listen to all 80 minutes of Ma vlast; these are castles, woods and fields worth visiting with Smetana as your guide.

The Overture: In Nature's Realm by Antonin Dvorak is another work I recommend highly, especially to those of you who only know his Symphonies (and perhaps only his best-known, From the New World). Dvorak's tone poems contain some of his best music, with lovely and lively themes and rich orchestral colour. Dorati is once again a more than reliable interpreter; his Dvorak is as vital and alive as his Smetana.
Submitted on 10/03/11 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Smetana, Bedrich : Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1 :: 112
  • Conductor: Antal Dorati
  • Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Running Time: 78 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: circa 1872-1879

>Dvorak, Antonin : In Nature's Realm (V prírode), concert overture, B. 168 (Op. 91)
  • Conductor: Antal Dorati
  • Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Running Time: 14 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral