Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra under George Richter, Smetana: The “My Fatherland” Cycle (“Ma Vlast”)

Daphne Carr

By Daphne Carr

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Smetana's Ma Vlast ("My Country") is the height of 19th century Czech musical nationalism, and though the movements (esp. "Vltava") are performed separately, the cycle remains a must for every Czech conductor. The seven-movement symphonic poem, beginning with the four note motive of a bard's harp praising the mythos surrounding the castle Vysehrad, moves through the swirling eddies of the river Vltava (also known as "Die Moldau") and ends with the town of Tabor and Mt. Blanik, musical narrations of the 15th century Hussite Wars. Strikingly, Smetana wrote the entire cycle after having gone deaf from syphilis.