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Smetana: Ma Vlast, Orchestral Works Import

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, August 26, 2008
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Vysehrad (The High Castle) - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik
  2. Vltava (The Moldau) - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik
  3. Sarka - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik
  4. Z Ceskych Luhu a Haju (From Bohemia's Meadows and Forests) - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik
  5. Tã¡Bor - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Rafael Kubelik
  6. Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1:112: 6. Blaník

Disc: 2

  1. Richard III, symphonic poem, JB 1:70 (Op. 11)
  2. Wallensteins Lager (Wallenstein's Camp), symphonic poem, JB 1:72 (Op. 14)
  3. Hakon Jarl, symphonic poem, JB 1:79 (Op. 16)
  4. Prague Carnival - Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Rafael Kubelik
  5. Overture - Wiener Philharmoniker, James Levine
  6. Polka - Wiener Philharmoniker, James Levine
  7. Furiant - Wiener Philharmoniker, James Levine
  8. Skocnã¡ (Dance of the Comedians) - Wiener Philharmoniker, James Levine


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Rafael Kubelik, James Levine
  • Composer: Bedrich Smetana
  • Audio CD (August 26, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Dg Imports
  • ASIN: B000024577
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,436 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Lane on August 6, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Almost 6 years ago I reviewed the DG Galleria issue containing the same recording of Ma Vlast that takes up the lion's share of this bargain 2 CD issue (see Smetana: Má vlast). I actually owned this issue then also, but it was not available from Amazon.com so I could not offer a link to it or review it. I keep both issues in my collection to use as demonstration to doubters that digital remastering truly CAN work well when handled properly. DGs Original-Image Bit-Processing was used on this issue, but not on the Galleria issue I reviewed in 2004. Whether the use of that process is the reason, or just plain greater care by the engineers is the reason, this issue of the Boston Symphony Kubelik Ma Vlast sounds immensely better in this later remastering. There is a liveliness and dimension to the sound that is totally muffled in teh Galleria issue.

When I found this 2 CD set with the Ma Vlast AND the 4 other Smetana symphonic poems at an HMV store in Philadelphia, my heart leaped for joy. I had owned the original LP issue of those recordings from the day they were issued, and had yearned for good CD incantations for years. I was already watering at the mouth with anticipation that the remastering of Ma Vlast would come closer to or exceed the original LP sound of that piece (see the Galleria review); to get the other pieces too was doubly pleasing. Add Levine's lively orchestral selections from the opera The Bartered Bride and you've got over two hours of some of the finest Czech symphonic repertoire in unpoarrallelled sound at a bargain price.

This issue belongs in the library of every collector of Czech music, and it makes a fine item to give some variety to the last enthusiatic listener who just wants a taste of Bohemia.
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Other reviews here have already sung the praises of this remastering. Although I owned both these performances on reel-to-reel tape, these discs are the best incarnation of them I have heard. The four symphonic poems especially have a sparkle and immediacy to the sound that beautifully complement Kubelik's fiery performances. The BVRSO contributes impassioned playing. Of course, the Boston Symphony is no slouch either, and the opening-out of the sonic image in Ma Vlast is very welcome. I place this performance on the same level as Kubelik's Supraphon CD from Prague. Even though I owned the Galleria masterings, I consider the price of this set money well spent. Levine's contribution to the collection is also very good; it includes the full version of the Dance of the Comedians rather than the abbreviated version usually offered.
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...for example the two Janowitz/Gage/Schubert lieder compilations and the sublime Kempff Schubert Duo including
both sets of Imprompti,D 899 and 935, the Moments Musicaux, and the Sonatas in A, D664 and Bb, D960. I have not
heard Kubelik's 1990 Czech PO Ma Vlast of Supraphon, but given the circumstances can only imagine its emotional
intensity. In Kubelik's discography, the most enraptured performance, I think has been his Berlin PO Schumann
Symphony #2 which dwarfs the three other excellent BPO Schumanns and the four BRSO Schumanns. The DG Boston Ma
Vlast is wonderful in its own right, from the sunnier Ma Vlast and Bohemia's Woods and Fields to the mostly
darker Sarka.
In the considerably more rarely heard four Tone Poems/Short Symphonies, a theme which unites at least the first three is the triumph of liberation of liberators over tyranny/tyrants (e.g. Richard III and Hakon Jarl).
Obviously this music was close to Kubelik and it I find it attractive and exciting, especially Wallenstein's
Camp and Hakon Jarl.
James Levine's Bartered Bride Overture and orchestral rival Kubelik and are full peers of Szell/Sony and
Kempe/EMI in my view.
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Kubelik really shines in performance with three composers: Dvorak, Mahler, and Smetana. It seems the affinity he shares for each of these composers runs deep within him. The way he handles Smetana with the Boston Symphony and the Bavarian Radio Symphony on these recordings is timeless and gives a special Czech feeling to these works. The other conductor in this set is James Levine who is a also a fine conductor and performs great with the Vienna Philharmonic, but it is Kubelik who steals the show here no question about it.

"Ma Vlast," which takes up the first disc has been digitally remastered using Deutsche Grammophon's "Original-Image-Bit-Processing," which according to DG adds presence, brilliance and greater spatial definition to the recording. I have read many bad reviews concerning this first disc's audio and I see no one but myself and another are aware of this release, because we are the only ones who have reviewed it so far. I'm sure, without question, that this 2008 release blows the original "remastered" release of "Ma Vlast" away. This is something to definitely consider when buying this. For those who have the original and don't want two copies, then sell the original and buy this one. You will be glad you did.

This set also contains some other Smetana orchestral works like "Richard III," "The Bartered Bride," etc., which are performed great.

If you're looking for a one-stop buy for Smetana, this is it. Not only are you getting his best works with the best conductor of this repertoire, but you're getting two discs for the price of one plus a newly remastered set that blows all other releases away.
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