Notes & Reviews:
Although for nearly 150 years Bedrich Smetana's The Bartered Bride has triumphed in opera houses all over the world, the work's road to success was not an easy one. The opera was categorically rejected at its 1866 premiere by a Czech public clamoring for a genuine national opera. Four versions of the work later, after addressing many critical complaints (sometimes it was found too long, sometimes too short), a final version was completed and premiered in 1870. The musical world quickly recognized that Smetana had produced work that was destined for immortality. This recording features an all-Czech cast accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus led by Jirí Belohlávek.
Few conduct Smetana as well as Belohlávek...
BBC Music Magazine, December 2012
The slimlined BBC Symphony Orchestra adapts admirably to Jiri Belohlavek's blend of rustic cheerfulness and Wagnerian hues; they are absolutely irresistable in the Dance of the Comedians...Dana Buresovß and Tomßs Juhßs are not, perhaps, the most warm-hearted of lovers, but both negotiate Smetana's technical challenges with aplomb.
The Guardian, September 2012
It's a thoughtful, searching interpretation that emphasises Smetana's bittersweet sense of comedy and is, at times, extraordinarily moving; it might not be quite to your taste if you view the piece primarily as bucolic farce. Belohlßvek occasionally deploys bigger, more dramatic voices than we would usually find in western European performances...Vorßcek [is] the best ever VaÜek.
This is the first commercial recording of this opera in 30 years and listening to it will remind fans just how delectable a work it is. The performance captures the opera's often elusive poignancy; it is too easy to play it as slapstick on the one hand or with condescension on the other. Here conductor Jirí Bélohlávek seems to get it just right. There's pathos without sentimentality and wit without mockery.
The great overture sets the tone nicely; it is energetically, busily played, the strings rushing about, and the woodwinds seem to be interrupting and gossiping, right up to the overture's final moments. The brass blare out with triumph at the start of Act 2. I'm not certain that this performance takes the place of either the Supraphon or the Wunderlich (although the latter is sui generis), but it's terrific.
Sunday Times, 9th December 2012
If none of the names in Belohlavek's all-Czech cast is of the household variety, they have this "nationalist" tragicomedy in their blood.
The Independent, 2nd December 2012
An irresistible performance...Effervescent from overture to the finale, the BBC Symphony Orchestra plays with sheeny strings, while the BBC Singers deliver crisp and clear ensemble...although Dana Buresova and Tomas Juhas enjoy the sweetest melodies as the frustrated lovers, tenor Ales Voracek steals the show as the stuttering Vasek.
Recording information: Barbican Center, London (05/2011).
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Works DetailsSmetana, Bedrich : Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93 :: 100
- Conductor: Jirí Belohlávek
- Ensemble: BBC Symphony Orchestra
- Running Time: 6 min. 35 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1863-1870