About the album
In the course of the French Revolution European territories began to harbor a special interest in their own individual identity. The conception of the national state forged ahead, which had significant consequences on their cultural achievements. The world of fairy tales knocked on the doors of the continent and the societies discovered their historical and social roots in recalling their household legends and myths. It was the start of the Romantic period which was susceptible to this kind of fantastical narrations and
the musical community with its composers and artists happily joined the scene.
Consequently it turned into the heyday of program music, when symphonic poems came into being. Composers developed a sophisticated most colourful orchestral sound which perfectly served the purpose of that musical poetry. The orchestra itself took over a kind of protagonists’ role by giving birth to pictures and illusions. It is symphonic onomatopoeia – music itself is telling tales by its own means and it is not for no reason that symphonic poems belong to the most popular programs which todays concert halls still are promoting.
Smetana’s Má Vlast (My Country) is a resounding proof of this type of music. And it occupies an exceptional position: designed as a cycle and consisting of six individual movements, it turns into one of the largest symphonic poems cycles ever written. The binding outside element are the nation’s most famous sites with castles, forests, meads and even a prominent river, all of them associated with heroic legends which span from the past into an idealized vision of the future. Internally the cyclical context becomes obvious by certain themes and motifs which are cited in the course of the individual pieces. So on the whole it is a kind of national cosmos coloured by music.
Smetana dedicated Má Vlast to the city of Prague, and it is meanwhile tradition that it will be performed every year on May 12th, the composer’s day of death, to open the musical Prague Spring.
11Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country) I. Vyšehrad
12Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country) II. Vltava (Moldau)
13Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country) III. Šàrka
14Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country) IV. From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields
15Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country) V. Tábor
16Smetana: Má Vlast (My Country) VI. Blaník