Roger Norrington / Alexander Titov / Ilan Volkov

Smetana: Má Vlast; Dvorák: The Wood Dove; The Noonday Witch

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These are three fairly poor performances of three movements from Smetana's Má Vlast. The Great Britain National Youth Orchestra is no doubt a wonderful group of young people who are doing their very best, but still, they're not really up to the music. Má Vlast is full of color and energy and exuberance, and the NYO is just about able to play the notes, but not much more. Nor is it helped by Roger Norrington, a proponent of historically informed performance practice whose attempt to get the young players to imitate a Bohemian orchestra of a century and a half ago only leaves them sounding lost and confused. Nor does the dim, gray, and hard live recording do them any good. Ilan Volkov's live performance of Dvorák's tone poem The Wild Dove, with the BBC Scottish Symphony recorded in Pärnu, Estonia, is far better played, far more convincingly conducted, and far, far more clearly recorded than Norrington and the NYO's. Alexander Titov's live performance of Dvorák's tone poem The Noon Witch, also with the BBC Scottish, recorded live in Aberdeen in 2003, while nowhere near as polished and expressive as Volkov's performance, is still far better than Norrington and the NYO's. But both of them together aren't enough to compensate for the dismal Má Vlast.

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