Notes and Editorial Reviews
Levine evokes an atmosphere of timelessness and open space while maintaining the tension and flow of the music with great skill, aided by the VPO at their very best.
At the beginning of "Vysehrad" Levine does not phrase the first theme very distinctly, but the music soon takes wing, and the VPO are persuaded to produce playing of great flair and rhythmic suppleness. Levine builds a very exciting climax to this piece and shapes the ending most eloquently. In 'Vltava" he finds a good basic tempo and by use of the most delicate rhythmic pointing gives the piece just the right freshness and warmth. "Sárka" is dramatic and ardent, while at the beginning of "From Bohemia's Woods and
Fields" Levine is very successful in evoking an atmosphere of timelessness and open space. Both "Tábor" and "Blaník" present problems for a conductor in their occasionally bombastic passages, but Levine maintains the tension and flow of the music with great skill, aided by the VPO at their very best... The recording is very vivid and has plenty of impact, but is not ideally opulent.
When one considers the emotional significance Má vlast has for the Czech nation it is surprising that none of the available three versions under Czech conductors is outstandingly good. Kubelik's Orfeo recording is the best: he certainly has the music in his blood, for he first recorded excerpts from the cycle with Talich's pre-war Czech Philharmonic, and this is his fourth complete recording. But his response to the score is not so sharp as it was—the music's pulse no longer beats so strongly, and dramatic passages register with less than maximum impact. And here Má vlast takes two whole discs. Sawallisch is a little less subtle than Kubelik, but his conducting is vigorous, direct and very committed... With good playing and decent recording this is a bargain. But Levine now offers the best performance and recording.
– Gramophone [10/1987], reviewing this recording originally issued as DG 419768
Works on This Recording
Má vlast by Bedrich Smetana
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1874; Czech Republic
Date of Recording: 06/1986
Venue: Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna
Length: 76 Minutes 26 Secs.
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