Smetana: Má Vlast

Smetana: Má Vlast

Semyon Bychkov, one of today’s most thoughtful conductors, presents a far from typical performance of Smetana’s much-loved and recorded Má Vlast. In this series of six tone poems celebrating the Czech composer’s native land, Bychkov’s focus appears to be more on its epic and legendary qualities rather than incidental human detail. The overall spaciousness of his approach is evident from the very opening harp chords of “Vyšehrad" (“The High Castle”), played slowly like a rapt incantation. However, once the brass enters, the music gains momentum, and Bychkov patiently builds tension over the next seven minutes to its exciting climax. Yet Bychkov is not solely concerned with magisterial sweep. In the best-known movement “Vltava” (“The Moldau”), the contrast between the limpid stillness of the moonlit water nymphs and the ferocity of the following St. John rapids is quite stark. The magnificence of his reading of the fourth poem, “From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields,” suggests the untamed mystery of Czech wildlife as much as its beauty. The Czech Philharmonic plays magnificently throughout with glowing tone.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada