Paavo Berglund / Staatskapelle Dresden

Smetana: Má vlast

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Of his purely orchestral works, Má Vlast (My Homeland) is Bedrich Smetana's best-known score, though its fame rests mostly on the second tone poem in the cycle, Vltava (The Moldau), which is a pops concert staple that is frequently performed and recorded by itself as a greatest hit. But once that work becomes familiar, listeners should make the effort to explore all six symphonic poems, to put Vltava in context and to appreciate the thematic unity of this tribute to Bohemian history and nationalism. This 1978 performance by Paavo Berglund and the Staatskapelle Dresden was given a superb analog recording by EMI that seems to have been enhanced by the 1995 digital remastering. The orchestra has a warm, burnished tone, and the most stirring passages have a fullness and spaciousness that will impress even the most jaded listener. Details are quite clear and crisp, and the sound is excellent for its time.

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