I had been really enthused when first seeing this new (and different) release by Schiff, and thus bought it, relenting my usual financial caution. Why? Because (1) renditions of the Polkas are as scarce as the proverbial hen's tooth; and (2) since my initial contact with these tuneful Smetana dances, played by Radislav Kvapil on an old Musical Heritage Society LP, which I still own, I have adored them. I know these pieces by heart and so it pains me to say that Schiff's playing is completely affected, postured and, when neither of these, strictly "by the book." Repeated listenings confirmed my worst fears. A whole lot of insufferable poking going on! And pulling. And diddling with dynamics (when there shouldn't be any diddling). Because there aren't a great many collections of Smetana's Polkas available on CD (especially with these particular opus numbers), it's all regretfully problematic.
Newcomers to Smetana's Polkas will unlikely find fault with Schiff's playing, and may in fact think that this is the way the dances should sound. There's the rub.
[Running time: 56:25]