Czech quarter: two classics, a rarity and a treasure as dear to Nicolas Derny as to Georges Zeisel: the terrible Quartet "From my life" by young Vlach, LP Electrola unpublished on CD.
Best of Classics - the perfect present for you and your nearest and dearest, who like beautiful music in top quality.The Best of Mozart title, the first of the exquisite series of CDs featuring classical music, has met with a tremendous response on the part of listeners who always want to have the most wonderful musical gems within easy reach.
Every true believer in the music of Czech nationalist composer Bedrich Smetana will have to check out this three-disc set of his orchestral works with Vladimir Válek leading the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Not only does it contain Smetana's orchestral masterpiece Má Vlast plus his three fairly well-known tone poems Richard III, Wallenstein's Campo, and Hakon Jarl, it also contains his nearly completely unknown four-movement Triumph Symphony, his almost totally unknown March for Shakespeare, and the Ceremonial Prelude in C major along with three short orchestral dances, the Georginen, the Louisen, and the Our Lasses Polkas.
This remarkable performance, recorded in 1980 and 1981, has never been bettered. Conductor Zdenek Kosler keeps the energy level very high while studiously avoiding overt sentimentality–but this is not to say that Vasek's problems do not evoke pathos. The purely orchestral sections–the overture and dances–are brilliantly played, almost as virtuoso set-pieces, but elsewhere the singers play off one another in a naturally operatic way… Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
George Szell's Dvorák performances feature his customary blend of razor sharp orchestral discipline allied to a wholly idiomatic, singing line. Even more interesting, he takes numerous liberties with Dvorák's orchestration in the Seventh Symphony, reinforcing the violins and woodwinds with horns at several points in the outer movements.
Classical music listeners resort to ethnic and national generalizations too often. Some of the most insightful Beethoven interpreters were French, and there are plenty of classic non-Czech recordings of Dvorák. Yet there's something uniquely satisfying about this version of the much-recorded Slavonic Dances (both sets, Op. 46 and Op. 72), and the satisfaction has something to do with the all-Czech origins. Take for example the match between the superb sound, recorded in Prague's Rudolfinium hall, and the texture of Jirí Belohlávek's Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, an ensemble he has molded into his own.
This will be quite a discovery for those who know the music of Bedrich Smetana only through his grand and nationalistic cycle of tone-poems, Ma Vlast, even if they are yet familiar with his more painfully intimate string quartets or his folkloristic operas. For Smetana, like most composers, needed to eat; and to do so he was happy to make his own contribution towards satisfying the seemingly insatiable appetite of the bourgeois 19th-century public for piano music that they could perform at home. Music of no great difficulty but boundless charm, these miniatures are now seldom heard and even less often recorded, and this is a shame, for works such as the Op.3 Characteristic Pieces show how the pianistic extroversion of Brahms and Liszt (who was a great admirer and supporter of the young Smetana, giving him valuable introductions to publishers) could be adapted to a domestic context, and with the particular inflection of Czech and Bohemian character, derived not only from simple and song-like melodies but also irregularly stressed dance-rhythms that the young Italian pianist Roberto Plano relishes to the full on this welcome new survey.