Smetana: Má Vlast
Czech Philharmonic, Jiří Bělohlávek
We were very sad to lose the great Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek in May 2017. This is the first recording that Decca have issued since his passing and it seems fitting that it contains a live recording of Smetana’s My Homeland performed by the Czech Philharmonic. It was recorded during the opening concerts of the celebrated Prague Spring Festival. This was their first appearance at Prague Spring following the maestro’s return to the orchestra as Chief Conductor in 2012.
The members of the orchestra must know this work inside out and it would be only too easy to produce a run of the mill performance. However that is certainly not the case as this is a deeply impassioned, moving account that more than does justice to Smetana’s musical depictions of his beloved Bohemian landscape and its vibrant culture.
This is in every sense a 5 star release that outshines the earlier recording by the same forces. This CD will take a permanent place in my collection alongside such great performances as the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition conducted by Rafael Kubelík (recorded at the 1990 Prague Spring Festival) and the most moving recording of them all Vaclav Talich’s live wartime performance with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1939.