Smetana – Moldau – Vlatva – Discography

Smetana (1824-1884) – Moldau – Vlatva – Discography


For years I have been wanting to do a comparative discography of My homeland, loving and Kubelík and Czech music. I started with the Moldau: over a hundred versions: one must be crazy... Kubelík (1984 and 1990) exceeds everything for me, but there are many other excellent versions, for example by the little-known conductor Reinhard Seifried and a great young Czech conductor, Jakub Hrusa.

… more than 1,500 identified pockets (most of the only Moldau), more than 100 versions of the Moldau (we prefer ‘Vltava’), which we will listen to before addressing the full versions of My Country. I must say that the Vltava is one of the tubes of classical music, which, lasting 12′ approximately, served for many compilations (see the more than 300 covers of CD / LP devoted to HVK and I must have missed a lot …).
Apart Mengelberg and Klemperer, there is at least one witness of the Moldau from all major historical conductors  on record. Very few French and English ones, and we can note that this work has substantially disappeared from the repertoire in recent years to attract in studio conductors or orchestras, let say of 2nd order, at least for their fame.
Obviously we find there the great Czech conductors, Talich, Kubelík (whose unedited concerts will be kept for the integral of My Country), Ancerl, Neumann, Smetacek. And of course the famous forger, but true conductor, Alfred Scholz.

(Some registration dates could not be verified and some names of conductors or bands remain doubtful).

1 – Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) – Berlin State Opera Orchestra – 1928 – It’s fast, strings playing is very dated, not too much vibrato, many portamenti, it is quite endearing but most tumultuous episodes are prosaic. 6

2 – Erich Kleiber (1890-1956) – Berlin State Opera Orchestra – 1928 – Fast reading, rather virtuoso, nocturnal episode is poetic, but the sound is very precarious and the lecture lacks of commitment. 6,5

3 – Vaclav Talich (1883-1961) – Czech philharmonic – 1929 – The sound emphasizes the pizzicato of the beginning, generous phrasing, the whole is quite confused and the sound does not help. Slow but idiomatic dance, dreaming and superbly led nocturnal episode. Very heroic end, too bad the sound is so precarious. 8

4 – Rafael Kubelik (1914-1996) – Czech philharmonic – 1937 – All is much better: it’s more structured, phrased, light, sounding. Both sources appear to be continuing merrily, the hunting scene does not forget the river, which is present throughout: the thread of the score will be forgotten later in some versions, the Dance of the farmers is taken on a slow tempo, which he abandoned in subsequent readings, but it is polka-like this time. The rest is to match, full of charm and played with an inimitable “chic”. 9

5 – Carl Schuricht (1880-1967) – Berlin State Opera Orchestra – 1937 – Acetate noise. It is very fast, but this lack of bounce. Sound saturating often, cuts. The dance sounds more Viennese than Czech. Well… 5

6 – Bruno Walter (1876-1962) – New York Philharmonic – 1941 – On-going version, you do not hear much, it is flexible, but a little shy, as in the hunting episode, the Dance of the farmers is slow and without rhythm… 5,5

7 – Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) – Orchestre philharmonique de Berlin – 1941 – The combination of the location and date are obviously not very friendly … It’s very ‘measured bar’ in the beginning, very supported strings, linear reading, well-conducted hunting, dance a little Viennese , nocturnal episode without great poetry, the end sounds too Teutonic. 7

8 – Vaclav Talich – Czech philharmonic – 1941 – Rather clear sound, but we hear more the pizz than the flute or the clarinet … It is undulating, very ‘organic’, not a break. Superb night passage, but it’s a bit pressed then . 8

9 – George Szell (1897-1970) – New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra – 1943 – Same comment or the beginning as for Talich. The main theme sounds a bit thick; in the hunt, brass are not very elegant. The dance is punctuated, Nocturne okay; everything is very well done but it is louder than singing. 7.5

10 – Bruno Walter – Los Angeles Standard Symphony Orchestra1949 – Style, virtuoso but singing, as for Kubelik, even during the hunting episode, the rivers flows continously; danse very slow, nocturne too, the end is just a little less interesting 8.5

11 – Rafael Kubelik – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – 1952 – We are here in ‘high fidelity’ even if the sound is sometimes a little harsh. Funny to see how fast is the dance compared to his 1937 recording. It is very lively, a little less poetic than in Prague. 8.5

12 – Ferenc Fricsay (1914-1963) – Berliner Philharmoniker – 1953 – A faster version, lively, punctuated enough, a little outside, with some curious balances. 7.5

13 – Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) – Wiener Philharmoniker – 1954 – This is very slow, the theme is immediately inseparable from its cons-singing, hunting has less tones than a year before with Kubelik (unclear sound), only the end is a little steep. 8

14 – Antal Dorati (1906-1988) – Royal Concertgebouw orchestra – 1957 – Another conductor of Hungarian origin. Sound is a bit thick, a beautiful reading, also a little outside, the colors of the orchestra do not seem well suited to the work. 7

15 – Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) – NBC symphony orchestra – 1957 – Sound rather dull, hard to believe in a river… Peasants dance sound more like a saltarelle… Nocturne OK, but it is not very interesting. 6.5

16 – Ionel Perlea (1900-1970) – Bamberger Symphoniker – 1958 – Slow tempo, the main theme is oddly phrased, it’s pretty winded, prosaic winds, lifeless dance, etc. 5

17 – Rafael Kubelík – Wiener Philharmoniker – 1958 – The sound was never flattering, while recognizing the special tones of the orchestra, especially in the Hunt. Dance has great rebound, but the rest seems a bit rushed. 7,5

18 – Karel Ančerl (1908-1973) – Wiener Symphoniker – 1959 – It is quick, woods setback. Very flat Theme, winded hunting, dance a little on tiptoe, night Episode done well, rapids prosaic, but the orchestra sounds very ungrateful. 7

19 – Herbert von Karajan –  Berliner Philharmoniker – 1959 – It’s very virtuoso (sound balance with accentuated medium), dance rather cavalierly, but very well done, very nice night episode, everything is great, knowing the conductor’s name, I could say it is not very Czech but it is not true, even the Vysehrad theme is perfectly integrated… 9

20 – Vaclav Talich – Czech philharmonic – 1959 – It is very wide, beautiful main theme, it sounds like the Furt version, but more idiomatic (dance), it is superiorly conducted, but more hieratic than singing. 8.5

21 – Bruno Walter – New York philharmonic – 1959 – Up tempo, theme very vibrated, almost sentimental, very well managed Hunt, slow but beautiful dance, everything is masterful, just the sound which is bad enough. 8.5

22 – Ferenc Fricsay – Berliner Philharmoniker – 1960 – Quick start, it is very decided, rhythmic, beautiful image and sound orchestra, everything is a little fast, but it’s very beautiful. 8.5
23 – Leopold Stokowski  (Antoni Stanisław Bolesławowicz – (1882-1977) – RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra – 1960 – It’s slow, full, beautiful sound, the modeling of the phrasing in the strings is amazing, too bad the end is a little static. 8

24 – André Cluytens (1905-1967) – Wiener Philharmoniker – 1960 – Everything sounds a bit small and skinny (strings, no accent at all), this is very bad. 4

25 – Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966) – Vienna State Opera orchestra – 1960 – Tape noises, it is very slow. triangle very forceful, but the theme is superbly phrasing, hunting is a bit problematic for many versions, but there is an inhabited slow dance, definitely made as a little concerto for triangle, dreamlike night episode, even magical, the theme reprise is still slower … and there the musical flow does not really work, criticism that I will have for Sergiu later… But this is an exciting version, with a very hieratic & impressive end. 8

26 – Hans Swarowsky (1899-1975) – Vienna Festival Orchestra – 1961 – We know that this conductor gave conducting courses, for Abbado and Mehta for example and that his name was “borrowed” by Alfred Scholz for some editions. Is it the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra? The beginning is slow, very measured, the theme does not sing, hunt crawls, a more welcome dance, a Nocturne OK, but this is hardly exciting. 6.5

27- Erich Leinsdorf (1912-1993) – Concert Arts Symphony Orchestra 1961 – A false name for Los Angeles? It is very fast, beautiful theme, everything is very decided, beautiful hunting, not really idiomatic dance, but plenty of drive, we do not hear enough the woods, matrix noise, night well arranged with the strings in the background, super fast (sounds a bit as Solti who apparently did not do it?). A tonic version. 8

28 – Bernard Haitink (*1929) – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – 1962 – As always a lesson in conducting, and as always lacking a little of panache or poetic climates. But from accuracy can raise poetry: beautiful theme, very well articulated hunting, dance not very much dancing, but the orchestra and sound recording are superb. We are admiring, but not transported. 8

29 – István Kertész (1929-1973) – Israël philharmonic orchestra – 1962 – We feel from the start that it will be a true interpretative project. It will be a fast and tumultuous Moldova! The theme is a bit rushed, hunting is almost military, but what animation! The fastest dance heard so far, it is not the most poetic version, but the most dynamic for sure! 8,5

30 – Karel Ančerl – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 1963 – Beginning dry enough, theme a little under a bushel, everything is well arranged, beautiful strings, but once again everything seems “flat” in this conductor so prized by French critics. 7

31 – Ferenc Fricsay – Sinfonie-Orchester Des Suddeutschen Rundfunks – 1964 – It’s fast, sounds very studio-like, theme singing, correct hunting, rhythmical dance, night okay, the whole is more determined than poetic. 7.5

32 – Malcom Sargent (1895-1967) – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – 1965 – Nice intro, great hunt,  dance not Czech for a dime, but elegant and melodious, beautiful version. 8

33 – Herbert von Karajan – Berliner philharmoniker – 1968 – We get lost in the Karajan versions, even browsing his official website. Distant sound. Many strings for the theme, rather heavy, it is virtuoso, dance sounds more as Brahms Hungarian dance, but it is plastically superb. Very successful night, superb transition back to the theme, rapids superiorly led, only the end was a little disappointing. 8.5

34 – Václav Neumann (1920-1995) – Gewandhausorchester Leipzig – 1968 – Superb beginning, proper hunting, dance not much dancing, beautiful nocturnal episode, especially with continuity in the winds – rather rare finally. A beautiful version. 7.5

35 – Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985) – Philadelphia orchestra – 19?? – (1957, 1968 ?) -The date is rather mysterious. Beautiful orchestra but it’s a little flat, with syrupy strings in the Nocturne. 6.5

36 – Hanz Müller-Kray (1908-1969) – Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart Des SWR – 1969 ? – The theme tends to slouch a little bit, correct Dance, prosaic night wanting to get every detail out, The theme’s reprise lacks of drive… 6.5

37 – Rafael Kubelík – Boston Symphony Orchestra – 1971 – Gripping introduction, elegant dance, superb night & beautiful finish. 8.5

38 – Georges Szell – Cleveland orchestra – 1971 -Very nice introduction, the theme lacks of warmth, well-conducted hunt, dancing on tiptoe (for fear of loosing the measure?). Nocturne lacking poetry. 7

39 – Charles Allan Gerhardt (1927-1999) – National Philharmonic Orchestra – 1974 – The conductor of the “Reader’s Digest” which also founded this orchestra, and worked with Stokowski. A self-taught conductor who took lessons with Horenstein. Correct Start, dance seems played by the orchestra alone, the one who favors the more the winds in the Night, which in my opinion is a contradiction, sluggish  theme reprise, rather bad rapids. 5.5

40 – Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) – New York philharmonic – 1974 – Slow tempo. Dance flown, everything sounds exterior, despite the conductor’s craft, palpable. Pretty nice Night, Rapids with too much piccolo, overflown end. 7

41 – Walter Susskind (1913-1980) – St. Louis Symphony – 1975 – The eternal underrated performer of Czech music (?): Theme placid, Hunt little exciting, dance ok, but a superb night in a steady tempo. The end is conventional. 7,5

42 – Daniel Barenboïm (*1942) – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – 1978 – The beginning is a bit flat, lot of vibrato in the strings, the theme becomes almost unpleasant, brass have obviously a good time in the Hunt, a Dance with strange accents, but that works, a little wheezy nocturne, like he was looking for Grieg with the strings, a little sentimental lecture. 7

43 – Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979) – Boston Pops Orchestra – 1978 – “Phase 4 Stereo spectacular”: it is true that there is presence, everything is in place, it’s alive, triangle somewhat intrusive in the Hunt, but very beautiful strings, waltz maybe not idiomatic but with chic, a Nocturne excellently conducted, rapids rather conventional. Probably not the most remarkable version but a lesson in conducting. 8

44 – Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013) – Orchestre de la Suisse romande – 1978 – Nice intro somewhat placid, theme rather flat, it is a cliché but it feels his Kapellmeister … Everything is in place, but we stay in place … Everything lacks of accents, of sound (including the strings), even if it is very correct. 7

45 – Walter Weller (1939-2015) – Israël philharmonic orchestra – 1979 – It’s more alive than the last, beautiful string contersinging for the theme, correct hunt, elegant dance, Nocturne episode turns a little empty, fast end, a little martial. 7,5

46 – Paavo Berglund (1929-2012) – Staatskapelle Dresden – 1979 – Fast version, flat theme, sluggish hunting, flat dance, many triangle, well arranged Nocturne, return of the theme rather flat. 7

47 – Mark Ermler (1932-2002) – Orchestre National du Bolchoï – 1980 – Tempo moderate, beautiful sound image, beautiful theme, hunt and dances correct, lots of string in the Nocturne, a beautiful version. 7,5

48 – András Kórodi (1922-1986) – Vienna Symphony Orchestra – 1980 – Slow tempo, fairly flat theme, static hunt, stiff dance, the Nocturne is very well balanced, but overall we are bored. 6

49 – Václav Smetáček (1906-1986) – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 1980 – It’s fast, sources are somewhat flown, nice transition to the theme,  stringsbeats that keep the permanence of the stream, beautiful dance, Nocturne with too many strings to my taste, super fast, the Vysherad theme is pompous at wish. 8

50 – Václav Neumann – Czech philharmonic orchestra – 1980 – Moderate tempo, everything is well done, but it lacks of drive. Night has a beautiful balance, a good “classic” version . 7.5

51 – Lovro von Matačić (1899-1985) – ORF Radio-symphony Wien – 1982 – Live version, pretty average orchestra, nothing striking, cushy dance, night with beautiful atmosphere, but the whole is a bit slow and heavy. 7

52 – Iouri Ahronovitch (1932-2002) – Wiener Symphoniker – 1983 – Slow tempo, sound is a little distant, beautiful dance, beautiful night, the theme’s retrune is flat, noisy rapids. 6.5

53 – Leopold Hager (*1935) – Orchestre symphonique de Radio-Luxembourg – 1983 – A reading alert, a pretty dance, a nonexistent night, loud rapids, it’s pretty much exterior. 6,5

54 – Rafael Kubelík – Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – 1984 – Live – (heard in the DVD version, the sound of the LP edition is pretty bad). A concert at the request of the staff of the Bavarian orchestra, fabulous theme phrasing, obvious hunt, same for the dance, night amazing, exhilarating rapids … 9,5

55 – Herbert von Karajan – Wiener Philharmoniker – 1985 – Beautiful introduction, hunt is a little conventional, pretty dance, night somewhat deliquescent, impressive and addictive rapids, everything seems licked and distant, despite the qualities of the orchestra.7,5

56 – Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996) – Munich Philharmonic Orchestra – 1986 – Live – The average durations of the accessible versions barely exceeds 12 ‘, the “Ce” did it in 15’36! Obviously the introduction crawls, the theme also, hunt became decorative, dance is a nonsense as expected, and the Nocturne successful, as also expected! Beautiful orchestra, a little heavy image. 7 (9 for the fans and 5 for refractory ones as me…).

57 – James Levine (*1943) – Wiener Philharmoniker – 1985 – Levine had submitted it to Kubelík’s approval, which he obtained, which did not prevent him in an interview to point out the technical shortcomings of the Vienna recording… Very good sound and a superb orchestra, this is quite nervous, lively hunt, beautiful dance, the night is more common; a version very “big band”, a little noisy, but more alive than Karajan’s. 8

58 – Antal Dorati – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – 1986 – Rather heavy, dance so serious, dull nocturne, nothing really works despite the orchestra. 6,5

59 – Barry Wordsworth (*1948) – Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra – 1988 – Ordinary introduction, strings have a curious sound, average theme, too, it’s dull and boring. 6

60 – Marris Jansons (*1943) – Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra – 1989 – Beautiful introduction, correct hunt and dance, beautiful nocturne, well done, another good standard version. 7.5

61 – Gustav Kuhn (*1945) – Bamberger Symphoniker – 1989 – Beautiful introduction, proper theme, well supported by the lower strings, hunt a little shy, rather flat dance, strings animation in the Nocturne, a neutral lecure. 6.5

62 – George Richter (Heinrich Hollreiser – (1913-2006) – Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra – 1989 – We are not sure of the credit … Punchy Introductio, lively theme, correct dance, quite dreamlike nocturne, correct version. 7

63 – Alfred Scholz (1920-1999) – “Philharmonia Slavonica” – 1990 – The orchestra does not exist and would probably be the Austrian Radio (ORF). Alfred Scholz cf. Okay first, placid theme, but slow hunt conducted, dance missing accents, nocturne rather successful, a still placid theme, it is a little boring but it’s well done, end is a little prosaic. 7

64 – Libor Pešek (*1933) – Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – 1990 -Start well led, somewhat rapid theme, good hunt, very fast polka, whipped, superb orchestral balance for the nocturne, very good rapids, the end starts badly but he takes things in hand quickly. Beautiful version. 8.5

65 – Rafael Kubelík – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 1990 – Live – Historic Concert if any (he will also give my Fatherland with members of 3 Czechoslovak orchestras (with more than doubled instruments …) we can see excerpts on Youtube. Very audible pizzicati, grand theme, nice hunt, The dans of the discography, bouncing more than in 1984, very atmospheric nocturne (amazing strings phrasing), we hear all parts, super rapids (with a very present bass drum), the only one to integrate so well the Vyserad theme… at the 1984 concert in Munich level. 9.5

66 – Rafael Kubelík – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 1991 – My DVD box is empty … but I also have the CD. Kubelík accompanied the Czech Philharmonic on tour in Japan together with Jiří Bělohlávek (see photos). He was to follow them in Australia, but had to abandon the idea because of his health. My criticic of the recording put this version still above the previous one, but I had to do it starting from the DVD: sometimes there are two sound engineers. It’s almost the same interpretation, more sedate but less alive, the CD sound misses of some air. 8,5

67 – Denis Cloutier (?) – London Symphony Orchestra – 1992 – Unknown conductor, very present sound, good start, hunt too slow, correct dance, nocturne superficial, noisy end, OK but not enthusiastic. 7

68 – Zdeněk Mácal (*1936)  – Milwaukee symphony orchestra – 1992 – Flutes and clarinets not very clear, the theme is good, then it’s a bit flat, hunt a bit soft, steep dance, which also turns off rather quickly, fairly messy nocturne, I stop there. 6.5

69 – Kurt Redel (1918-2013) – Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra – 1994 – Static beginning, proper theme, but then it withers, lead-soled dance, opaque night, rather flat and routine version. 6,5

70 – Vladimir Ivanovitch Fedosseïev (*1932) – Moscow RTV Large Symphony Orchestra – 1994 – Quick start with some bizarre notes at the clarinets, nonexistent theme, sounds Glinka-like, sound confused, slow and emphatic hunt, dance : (Polovtsian? ) better, Nocturne a little disorganized, amorphous theme’s return… 6

71 – Zubin Mehta (*1936) – Israël Philharmonic Orchestra – 1994 – Beginning so-so, same for the theme, sound not very clear, inexisting Dance, sentimental Nocturne, etc. 6

72 – Antoni Wit (*1944) – Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – 1994 – Reverberated recording and lacking of definition, a bit flat theme, pedestrian hunt,  a more welcome dance (polka!), Nocturne hardly audible, it’s rather plain. 6.5

73 – Neeme Järvi (*1937) – Detroit symphony orchestra – 1995 – Fast and well played beginning, theme nonexistent, very correct version instrumentally – its only advantage is to be fast enough. 7

74 – Christoph von Dohnányi  (*1929) – Cleveland orchestra – 1995 – Rather distant recording, elegant beginning, dance not dancing, though we recognize the sound of this orchestra, which I has always found a bit cheesy, the tempo slows for the nocturne, very well built, efficient rapids. 73.5

75 – Klaus-Peter Hahn (?) – Moscow State Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra – 1996 – I should do a paper on the evolution of Russian orchestras, Japanese or Italian ones: I have trouble keeping them up … This is an honest version, correct theme, a very quiet hunting , pretty ridiculous dance, nocturnal episode which seems to be concerned only to announce what follows, flat theme’s return… 6.5

76 – Zdeněk Mácal – SWF Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden – 1996 – Close recording, pace, strings rather thin, correct hunt, not helped by the sound recording, lively dance, nocturne ongoing, very successful, beautiful theme’ return, animated, lively rapids, theme of Vyserad without slowdown, beautiful version. 8.5

77 – Zdeněk Košler (1928-1995) – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 1996 – We find back the colors or specific accents of the orchestra, quick start, living theme, sound without much relief, hunt suffers, proper dancing (very elegant winds), nocturne’s tempo slightly distended, rapids crawl a little. 7,5

78 – Heribert Brandt (?) – Philharmonische Vereinigung Arte Sinfonica – 1996 – Who are they? I would be ennoyed if it was a genial lecture. Sounds like Strauss family, it is slow, tasteless, instrumental balance problems, but it is rather well played nonetheless. 6

79 – Reinhard Seifried (*1945) – Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra – 1997 – Great beginning, nice transition before the theme, it is lively, beautiful dance, nocturne’s balance and atmosphere also, superb return of the main theme, quick masterfully done, too bad if it’s not the best orchestra of the world … (I just read his bio and learns that he has worked with Kubelík). 9

80 – David Heer (?) – Radio Symphony Orchestra Pilsen – 1997 – We did not know that this city of barely 170,000 inhabitants had a symphony orchestra. Very good start, hunt a bit light, dance a little slow and shy, beautiful nocturnal, correct rapids, a pretty good version of a beautiful instrumental balance. 7.5

81 – Roger Arthur Carver Norrington (*1934) – London Classical Players – 1997 – It starts well, but the theme is apathetic, although slow hunting, dancing correct – it is not known if the triangle is “vintage”, slow nocturne, but dreaming, harps too far forward, the end is a mess. 7.5

82 – Alfred Scholz – London Symphony Orchestra – 1998 – It is assumed that this is him and that it is this orchestra … Start slow, indolent theme, soft dance, okay but boring nocturne, the rest to match. 6.5

83 – Uwe Mund (*1941) – Kyoto Symphony Orchestra – 1999 – Proper beginning and theme, strings a bit mannered, good hunt, beautiful dance, nocturne not very inhabited. but well balanced, correct rapids, a little noisy end. 7

84 – Grzegorz Nowak (*1951) – Edmonton symphony orchestra – 1999 – Not found, the little extract gives the impression of a live reading.

85 – Libor Pešek – Prague Symphony Orchestra – 2000 – Fast version, light strings, correct hunt, beautiful dance, successful night, beautiful cover of the theme, live rapids, a good version. 8

86 – Eliahu Inbal (*1936) – Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt – 2000 – Beginning much detailed, very slow river, correct hunt, dancing very detailed too, very beautiful nocturne, very well done rapids, very neat release. 8

87 – Johann Nikolaus comte de La Fontaine et d’Harnoncourt-Unverzagt (1929-2016) – Wiener Philharmoniker – 2003 – Great place, it’s just if we can hear the theme then, rustic hunt, slow and mannered dance, beautiful nocturne, with some exaggerated features, rapids with a hardly flattering global picture . 7

88 – Vassil Kazandjiev (*1934) – Sofia Symphony Orchestra – 2004 – It will be very slow, but it has some class, the tempo is too slow for the hunt, dancing is ok, beautiful nocturne, but the tempo gets us a little bit bored. 7.5

89 – Colin Davis (1927-2013) – London Symphony Orchestra – 2005 – Live – It is elegant but placid, anecdotal hunting, dance genre ‘you resume a cup of tea?’, More expressive nocturne, beautiful return of the theme, lively rapids. 7.5

90 – Rico Saccani (*1952) – Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra – 2007 – Unable to find this recording, just on a Youtube video: He conducts without a score, in fact he is sometimes too late in his gestures – it happens more often than we think -, it is very beautiful and well animated. 8

91 – Vladimír Válek (*1935) – Prague Symphony Orchestra – 2007 – Superb theme, it is very lively, a little nervous, well modulated dance, a cut before the nocturne, where the woods are a bit hidden, lively rapids, global sound somewhat unpleasant, stridency. 7.5

92 – Zdeněk Košler – Sinfonie Orchester Des Südwestfunks Baden-Baden – 200? – You get lost, good version, external nocturne, nothing too prominent. 7

93 – Marko Munih (*1936) – RSO Ljubljana – 2009 – Good beginning, static hunt, correct dance, beautiful nocturne, correct rapids, in short it is ok, not a very nice orchestral sound. 7

94 – Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi (*1940) – Japan Philharmonic Symphonic orchestra – 2010 – Fast version, dynamic theme, well directed hunt, rhythmical dance, beautiful night, engaged rapids, a nice dynamic version. 8

95 – Charles Mackerras (1925-2010) – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 2010 – When you think that Kubelík was never invited to conduct at Bayreuth (he will say at the end of his life, “What would I do in this province?”), and none of Janáček’s opera appeared in studio, while Mackerras was able to record the main ones in Vienna … In short, this is a fairly dynamic version, quite idiomatic dance, beautiful nocturne, a little outside, beautiful rapids, ending rather common. 7.5

96 – Claus-Peter Flor (*1953) – Malaysian philharmonic orchestra – 2011 – Flor also worked for a time with Kubelík. We are here in Malaysia … Introduction very elaborated, beautiful theme, very nervous hunting, dancing oddly balanced with effects, but very beautiful nocturne, dynamic rapids. 8

97 – William Bowles (?) – Royal Festival Orchestra – 2011? -What is The Royal Festival Orchestra? Who is this Mr Bowles? Good beginning, proper dance, beautiful orchestral sound, beautiful nocturne, dynamic rapids, some stridency. 7.5

98 – Libor Pešek – Czech Philharmonic Orchestra – 2011 – It’s fast, beautiful theme, beautiful hunting and dancing, nocturne slightly below, flat theme’s return, rapids not interesting. 7.5

99 – Justus Frantz (*1944) – Philharmonia of the Nations – 2011 – Can not help but I think of the Bach concertos with… Helmut Schmidt. Orchestra with a flat tone, mannered dance, nocturne a bit drowned, uninteresting. 7

100 – Tomas Netopil (*1975) – Prague Symphony Orchestra 2012 – Quick introduction in a “Flight of the Bumblebee” way, correct hunting, beautiful dance, successful nocturne, with will-o’-the-wisp woods, superb transition to the return of the theme, imagination of a beautiful sound for the rapids, beautiful end. 8.5

101 – St. Martin’s Symphony of London – 2011? – What is that? Reverberant sound, very fast, but decided not distinguished, not a British dance for a penny, rather Prussian nocturne, a little confused, caricatured rapids, end quite messy. 7.5 (thankfully this is not one of the best versions, it would have been bothered …) What is quite extraordinary is that this CD “Smetana – The Genius Collection” includes this version after another of the Moldau, apparently very old and unknown, in the style of Knappersbusch!

Jiří Bělohlávek (*1946) – Prague symphony orchestra – 2012 – Not found.

102 – Volker Hartung (*?) – Junge Philharmonie Köln – 2013 – Again a fast version, strings struggling to keep the sound alive, unbridled hunting, dance so-so, strings too faded into the nocturne, noisy rapids. 7.5

103 – Theodore Kuchar (*1963) – Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra – 2013 – Beginning at a cracking pace, beautiful theme, living hunting, dancing with more woods than usual, too much harp in the nocturne, but a beautiful version, alive. 8

104 –  Michael Rieder (*?) – Das Große Klassik Orchester – 2014 – Slow tempo, sound distant, ill-defined, it crawls, hunters have drunk too much, dancers stagger, nocturnal creatures snoozing… 6

105 – Silvano Frontalini (*1948) – Olsztyn Philharmonic Orchestra – 2014 -Unknown Orchestra, one has the impression that it was captured from the wings of a theater. This is ugly and inaudible. 3

106 – Robert Kabara (*?) – Sinfonietta Cracovia – 2015 -Barely more audible than the last one, I suddenly checked my headphones… boring hunt, correct dance, but we don’t hear much. 6

107 – Jos van Immerseel – Anima Eterna Brugge – 2015 – Beautiful flutes, then it is rather lumpish, Strings rather ugly, wheezy dance, nocturne better, all this is well done, but sounds prosaic. 7

108 – Jakub Hrusa – Bamberger Symphoniker – 2016
A very clear introduction, very neat orchestral balance, very good hunting, elegant dance, Nocturne impeccable, Rapids with a lot of relief and very lively, superb! 8.5


Smetana - Ma Vlast

More than 1,500 LP or CD sleeves, first : excerpts (mainly Moldau)

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