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Smetana: Moldau, Overtures / Dohnányi, Cleveland Orchestra


Release Date: 04/24/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 444867  
Composer:  Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

For those who like good tunes, played with an extrovert sparkle that borders on vehemence, this is an excellent disc that will win Smetana many new friends.

A pleasing programme, although I do wish that Decca (or Dohnanyi) had traded the ‘dangling carrot’ of “Vltava” for extra helpings of rare Smetana – more orchestral/choral excerpts from the operas, perhaps, or the late Prague Carnival “introduction and polonaise”. As to what is on offer, pride of place must go to the magnificent Overture to Libuse, a work that was completed in 1872 but not actually premiered until 1881, two years before Dvorak composed his Hussite Overture along vaguely similar lines. The opening brass-and-timpani fanfare anticipates Janacek’s
Read more Sinfonietta, although ensuing incident is more reminiscent of Smetana’s own Ma vlast and, especially, Wagner (note the beautiful, Lohengrin-style descending passage from 5'27''). Dohnanyi effects ideal pacing and tapers a beautifully graded diminuendo away from the bold opening (from, say, 1'10''), but the strings are occasionally less than precise – especially at around 4'17''.

The two widows opens somewhat in the manner of late Verdi though the overall flavour is unmistakable, especially at 3'20'' where Smetana launches a quietly mischievous fugue over a held bass pedal. Then there is the delightful “Polka” and the lively Overture to The Kiss, both prime-cut samplings of Smetana’s mature style. The bartered bride suite is very nicely done, although synchronization falters momentarily just after 1'00'' into the Overture, and don’t expect Dohnanyi’s “Dance of the Comedians” to match Szell’s Cleveland recording of 30 years earlier for precision, especially among the strings. In the “Polka”, vivid stereophony lends considerable presence to the chorus, who make a very bold entrance: I initially thought I had been gatecrashed by a crowd of unannounced guests! “Vltava” is equally effective, what with its stylishly phrased opening, sensitive transitions (especially into the “Peasant’s Wedding” episode) and powerful current later on.

-- Gramophone [2/1996]

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Not for the faint-hearted, who might flinch at the sheer exuberance of these performances. Nor is it for the purist, who may regard a collection of overtures and operatic dances, topped off with the ever-popular Vltava from Má vlast, as a bit arbitrary. But for those who like good tunes, played with an extrovert sparkle that borders on vehemence, this is an excellent disc that will win Smetana many new friends.

-- Christopher Lambton, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

1.
Má vlast: no 2, Moldau, T 111 by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Czech Republic 
2.
Libuse, T 107: Overture by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1872; Czech Republic 
3.
The two widows, T 109: Overture by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1877; Czech Republic 
4.
The kiss, T 115: Overture by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Czech Republic 
5.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Overture by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Written: 1866 
6.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Polka by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863/1870; Czech Republic 
7.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Furiant by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863/1870; Czech Republic 
8.
Bartered Bride, B 143/T 93: Dance of the Comedians by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863/1870; Bohemia 

Sound Samples

Má Vlast (My Country): 2. Vltava (The Moldau)
Libuse - Opera in 3 Acts: Overture
The Two Widows (Dve Vdovy) - Opera in 2 Acts: Overture
The Two Widows (Dve Vdovy) - Opera in 2 Acts: Polka
The Kiss (Hubicka) - Opera in 2 Acts: Overture
Overture The Bartered Bride
The Bartered Bride / Act 1: Polka
The Bartered Bride / Act 2: Furiant
The Bartered Bride / Act 3: Dance of the Comedians

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