Smetana Ma Vlast

Which is the best version of this wonderful piece?
On CD, both versions with Rafael Kubelik are quite special. I think the one on Supraphon slightly edges over the one on Orfeo as regards spontaneity because this is a live performance, Rafael's first return to his homeland after a long period of expatriation of 41 years.
MFSL is also remastering the version with Walter Susskind and St.Louis Symphonny Orchestra on Hybrid SACD if you have an SACD player. It's also a very nice performance and the sound should be of audiophile quality. It's due for release on or around February 22, 2005.
Kubelik is a highly revered conductor of Czech music. I haven't heard his Supraphon, but have heard his version on DG (slightly dated sound from the early 70's I believe). Kubelik's Supraphon is at the top of the list in the Gramophone Guide (and others). I have Vaclav Neumann on Supraphon w/the Czech Phil. which I enjoy very much. Neumann is also regarded as a great conductor of Czech music, though usually for Dvorak. I believe that Kubelik may have recorded the Smetana live for Denon as well. The Susskind could be pretty good. Good luck with your search-I always enjoy searching for these little oddities.
Well, I would agree that Kubelik's live record on Supraphon is very special indeed, as they were celebrating an occasion, his return to his native land after a forced exile of over 40 years. However, from a recording quality I find it somewhat flat and uneven. There is also Ancerl's 1963 thrilling performance recording on Supraphon and Talich's 1954 version also on Supraphon, but in mono. The last two are considered by many to be the finest. That said....

I really enjoy Mackerras' version with the CPO, also on Supraphon, for both the performance and the recording.

Two other excellent versions - Levine on DG and Inbal on Teldec.

What these versions all share is a fair amount of excitement and feeling of nationalism which is, to me, what this music is all about. I love it!

Now for the adventuresome amoungst you - Ma Vlast, 4 hands version, again on Supraphon. Who could have guessed that this great music could have been sucessfully reduced to piano. Try it.
These guys, Dvorak and Smetana, wrote some great stuff. I first got introduced to them on Lazer Disc.The video just got me hooked to the music.---Too bad these never made it to DVD---or did they??
When I think how few compositions Antonin has;and how great they all are --say compared to guys that have written near a thousand pieces---His 9th, his cello, the Slavonic Dances--Quintet in G op 77--- all near the top as my favs. Seems like he only wrote 'hits'
Avguygeorge, Not to hi-jack a Smetana thread, but as you brought it up......Dvorak's other symphonies are not chopped liver! I enjoy and recommend the entire nine symphonies, but especially 3, 5, 6, 8 and of course 9. The violin concerto, and his symphonic peoms are also not to be missed! And, while we are speaking of Czech, don't over look Suk, Janacek, and Kodaly, just to name a few more.
Kodály is Hungarian, but never mind. The same geographical area, more or less.
One other, underrated Ma Vlast is Macal on Telarc with the Milwaukee Symphony; I do like the others mentioned though a little better.

Agree with Newbee, there's a lot of Dvorak that's great music--many of his choral works are excellent, particularly to sing (great four-part men's sections with some nice low notes for us basses), and his concert overtures and tone poems are well worth getting for your collection. Very little that he wrote that I don't like. I'm also a big fan of Suk's music. But Newbee, I thought Kodaly was Hungarian? With a Hungarian choir director, we sing a number of his pieces.
Reprince, You're right of course, I just got carried away...I just love Eastern European music. So much life in it, unlike the more somber stuff from Germany. Just think of the Czech's I didn't include.........:-)
Newbee, could not agree more about Eastern European music, I really enjoy singing it as well as listening to it. When I visited Prague I was astonished at the number of musical events available for the listening--truly a city that loves music. The whole country seemed that way to me.
Thanks for all the responds. Currently I have 2 versions of Ma Vlast, the Supraphon with Kubelik and the Naxos with Atoni Wit.
I just purchased the mono version Phillips/Kubelik/Chicago after reading so many great thoughts about this version.
Any other Eastern European composers that we missed out?
I don't know what your taste run to or what you've heard, but here are a few that come to mind....From the romantic period: Fibich, Novak, and a BIG one, Franz Liszt. From the modern period Martinu and Rozsa. That, and the few I mentioned before will keep you busy for a while, but if you get bored, go to the Supraphon site - they are one of the primere lables for Czech (and Eastern European) music.
One Ma Vlast not yet mentioned, but which is among my favorites, is Libor Pesek's on Virgin with the Royal Liverpool Orchestra.
This is why collecting classical music is interesting. You can't just have one version. The Gramophone magazine is the only one I know of that has a special section dedicated to a major work each month. In this section, you will read an in-depth analysis of all the versions available on the market for the selected work.
More to discover