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Thread: Prom 8: Wednesday 20th July 2011 (Czech music)

  1. #31
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    Ma Vlast didn't drag as I feared it might - no doubt thanks to JB and the BBCSO...

    A couple of reviews here:-

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/m...ll-review.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011...ohlavek-review

    I wonder though if any of you know the concert performance history of Ma Vlast? Did Smetana actually intend all six pieces to be played as a whole - and how frequently was it played like this during his lifetime?

    Wikipedia (if we take it at face value ) has this to say

    "Má vlast (traditionally translated as "My Country", though more strictly meaning "homeland") is a set of six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. While it is often presented as a single work in six movements and – with the exception of Vltava– is almost always recorded that way, the six pieces were conceived as individual works. They had their own separate premieres between 1875 and 1880; the premiere of the complete set took place on 5 November 1882 in Prague."

    The full link is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A1_vlast

    Does Ma Vlast work as an integral whole?

    Best wishes,

    Tevot

  2. #32
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    The Dvorak CC wasn't one of the best I enjoyed the encore though(!!). Mas Valst was as you would excpect from JB. Very impassioned performance!
    Music is in the air all around you. You just take of it as much as you want(Sir Edward Elgar)

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tevot View Post
    I wonder though if any of you know the concert performance history of Ma Vlast? Did Smetana actually intend all six pieces to be played as a whole - and how frequently was it played like this during his lifetime?

    Wikipedia (if we take it at face value ) has this to say

    "Má vlast (traditionally translated as "My Country", though more strictly meaning "homeland") is a set of six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. While it is often presented as a single work in six movements and – with the exception of Vltava– is almost always recorded that way, the six pieces were conceived as individual works. They had their own separate premieres between 1875 and 1880; the premiere of the complete set took place on 5 November 1882 in Prague."

    Does Ma Vlast work as an integral whole?
    It is a pity that Smetana at this stage of his career didn't use opus numbers anymore.
    I do think Ma Vlast was conceived as a cycle, preferably to be performed as such. IMO it works well, and ever since my very first complete cycle in a concert in 1974, I've hardly either attended or otherwise listened to underwelming performances due to its length.
    Whether Smetana actually expected the cycle to be performed as such, is however another question. I am doubtful whether contemporaties, Dvorak e.g., thought it viable to do so.
    That is why I put the question re the opus numbers. Dvorak composed a cycle too: Nature, Live and Love.
    But he gave the three parts of this cycle -with interconnecting themes- three different opus numbers: 91, 92 and 93, though it was conceived as a cycle, and he preferred it to be performed as a unity. Admittedly the total length of the three overtures (In Nature's Realm, Carnival, Othello) is approximately half of Ma Vlast's, but Dvorak's decision is remarkable as it only can be aimed at getting the parts performed more than as part of a cycle only.
    And if a 3-part cycle was considered difficult to be performed in its entirety, what about a six part Ma Vlast?

  4. #34
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    In the programme notes to the recording by Libor Pesek and the RLPO Paula Kennedy writes that the work was written from 1874 to 1879 and first performed in its entirety in 1882 to resounding success. What isn't stated is whether the earlier parts were performed separately when composed. Opus numbers would help but I feel Smetana intended it to be played complete as he was so involved in the story behind the music

  5. #35
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    Just listened to the concert again. Ah, happy memories. If like me you like to go on musical journeys it is difficult to trace all of the main places featured in the Vltava movement of Ma Vlast. The two tributaries the "Warm" and "Cold" Vltavas (the two flutes) are there set in beautiful marshy heathland and join together near the German border in the south. One can choose any spot for the hunting scene and the rustic wedding but sadly the St John Rapids now lie at the bottom of a vast lake which acts as the reservoir for Prague and its area.

    Vysehrad, an eerie vast fortress that seems to lean out high over the river is a most moving place. Within its walls, by a beautiful church is the graveyard of many of Bohemia's great and good. Smetana and Dvorak (along with Jan and Raphael Kubelik, Josef Suk, Vaclav Talich, Vaclav Smetacek, Jan Neruda, Emmy Destinn and many others are buried at Vysehrad. Beno Blachut the fine tenor lies next to Dvorak. A couple of miles down river the city of Prague and its towers leap up just as in the final bars of Vltava.

  6. #36
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    Thanks Chris for your memories of Prague and Vysehrad. It's always been a regret of mine that I never visited Prague years ago when I was able to. I have heard so much about it, the clock, the Wenceslas statue and the big Square. Many of my musical heroes are buried in that beautiful church you write about.

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