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Smetana - M Vlast [CD]

Antoni Wit Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: 6.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Antoni Wit, one of the most highly regarded Polish conductors, studied conducting with Henryk Czyz and composition with Krzysztof Penderecki at the Academy of Music in Kraków, subsequently continuing his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He also graduated in law at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Immediately after completing his studies he was engaged as an assistant ... Read more in Amazon's Antoni Wit Store

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Smetana - M Vlast + Sibelius - Finlandia; Karelia Suite
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Antoni Wit
  • Composer: Bedrich Smetana
  • Audio CD (15 Dec 1994)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B00000140M
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,106 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 1. VysehradPolish National Radio Symphony Orchestra15:09Album Only
Listen  2. Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 2. Vltava (Moldau)Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra13:13Album Only
Listen  3. Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 3. SarkaPolish National Radio Symphony Orchestra10:04Album Only
Listen  4. Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 4. Z ceskych luhu a haju (From Bohemia's Fields and Groves)Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra12:46Album Only
Listen  5. Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 5. TaborPolish National Radio Symphony Orchestra13:25Album Only
Listen  6. Ma vlast (My Fatherland): No. 6. BlanikPolish National Radio Symphony Orchestra14:53Album Only

Product Description

Completed in 1878, Smetana's stirringly patriotic Má vlast ("My Country") comprises 6 tone-poems in all, including the much-loved and justly famous "Vltava" (which unforgettably charts the course of that eponymous Czech river). Most performances of Smetana's masterpiece (and there are plenty to choose from) last around 70 minutes, but Antoni Wit's unusually thoughtful interpretation approaches 80. Fortunately, this underrated Polish conductor directs with such likeable character and intelligence (and the orchestral playing in Katowice is so polished and responsive) that one's attention never wavers. True, Wit's imposingly broad "Vltava" may not be to all tastes (the peasant wedding some four-and-a-half minutes in is a rather less boisterous affair than usual), but generally speaking it's refreshing to encounter a Má vlast of such plentiful incident and engaging narrative flair. The sound is pleasingly atmospheric, if a wee bit short on sheer body and tonal lustre. So, if your budget won't extend to full price (where Rafael Kubelík's magnificent 1984 Orfeo account with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra continues to occupy a very special place of honour), Wit's notably individual version certainly offers striking value for money. --Andrew Achenbach

Product Description

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Under-rated orchestra, under-rated conductor! 27 July 2011
Format:Audio CD
One of the difficulties with the cycle of six tone poems that make up `Ma Vlast` is that we rarely if ever hear more than two of them, Vltava, and From Bohemia`s Woods and Fields, in concert or anywhere else for that matter. The first of the set is Vysehrad,a depiction of the old Hussite fortress-site on the Vltava River, and Antoni Wit kicks off immediately with a superbly gripping performance of it. This sets the tone for the rest of the disc, with finely-paced versions of Vltava (the river sweeps through Prague majestically, and the St. Johns Rapids section is truly exciting), Sarka, From Bohemia`s Woods and Fields (a wonderful `big tune` at the heart of it), and the two neglected pieces to close, Tabor, and Blanik. If you can listen to this cycle complete, in one sitting as it were (the disc clocks in at almost 80 minutes` worth), and retain your interest, this is a good test of whether justice has been done to Smetana`s wonderful music. No problems here in that regard whatsoever.
I have had the privilege of hearing the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra live on a number of occasions when they have been to the UK on tour. They are a highly dedicated band of musicians, their performances are never routine run-throughs, and their rapport with their respected conductor is second to none. All of this comes through on this recording, made in the winter of 1993-94 in Katowice, at the Concert Hall of Polish Radio.
I have always thought that this CD came off the Naxos production line at a time when their recordings were improving beyond measure, and for a few years afterwards the PNRSO with Wit were entrusted with a number of major orchestral projects, for example the Tchaikovsky symphonies. They did not disappoint, and they don`t here.
There are many renderings of this music available on disc, one of the advantages of Naxos is of course the bargain price. Great music, superbly played, bright and clear recording, inexpensive. Highly recommended.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HOMELAND SECURITY 25 Jan 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
As good a way to judge a disc of Ma Vlast as I can think of is how well it manages to sustain my interest through all six tone-poems played without intermission. I have now undergone the experience twice, and that in close succession because I had enjoyed the first time through enormously. It comes to all but 80 minutes' playing time, and it was not a moment too long for me, even second time round.

I do not have recent performances in mind to use as comparisons, benchmarks, yardsticks or what have you. Many years ago there were three or four sets of Ma Vlast directed by Kubelik, and not surprisingly they were widely taken as a standard. My memory of them is fading, indeed well faded, but the impression that remains with me is that the tempi were in general faster than Wit's tempi here. I like Wit's tempi. There is plenty of energy when it is called for, notably in the fierce Sarka and in the nationalistic final Blanik. However the overall impact is of a relaxed direction giving this relaxed and most beautiful and attractive music time to breathe. Wit seems to understand the Bohemian idiom thoroughly, so far as I from out the northern island can judge of such a matter. The music never sags at any point, even in one very dreamy sequence indeed in Vltava. Most impressive of all from my point of view was that the two final pieces, expressing Hussite themes and added later to the original suite of four, kept my attention effortlessly despite being, I guess, a little less inspired than their predecessors. The whole suite evokes love of homeland and the intense joy of just being there, but the secure and unquestioning aspects of that are probably more musical and poetic than the more assertively nationalistic ones.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical 6 Oct 2006
Format:Audio CD
I too had only heard Vltava -- an orchestra I play in is doing it this year -- before I was bought this. I hadn't realised how 'enchanting' (good word for it, really!) this was! If you've only heard one of the poems and want to listen around them, this is a wonderful edition. The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra is a brilliant orchestra - especially noted after I went to see them play Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique last year.

Utterly brilliant and highly recommended.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting 27 Jun 2003
Format:Audio CD
When I bought this CD I had only ever heard 'Vltava' but I found that all the pieces were as enchanting and magical as that. Close your eyes and you could be there. 1st class performance and great value.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quick service - pleased with it. 18 Dec 2012
By L Brown
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Needed this to play at my husbands' funeral. Not a dry eye in the house! So subsequently bought copies for several relations.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swept away by the River Moldau 30 Mar 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
While I enjoy all of Smetana's 'Ma Vlast' tone poems I must admit to having been totally captivated by the second tone poem - it is gorgeous, you can just picture the river flowing. That beautiful opening with a flute - and then a second flute joining in - the complimentary melodies intertwining just like the water flows and intertwines .... and that is just the beginning ... wait until the strings swell and sweep you further on down the river ....

I leant this CD to a friend who doesn't really listen to classical music but he enjoyed these tone poems and agreed that Vltava/Moldau is particularly beautiful.

This could be a very good CD for someone looking to start (or expand a somewhat thin) collection of classical music - the music is accessible and beautiful. Inspiring, grandiose, rousing at times and peaceful at others.

As for this particular recording - it seems excellent to me. I listened to some examples of 'Vltava' on YouTube while I was waiting for my CD to arrive and found I didn't like those recordings as much - on seemed a bit too fast (the water seemed to be tumbling over itself rather than flowing!) and in another recording there was unecessary emphasis on certain phrases which I felt didn't suit the piece of music (which just goes to show how the conductor can make a difference in the way they think the music should be interpreted).
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