Bedřich Smetana

Má Vlast (My Fatherland), symphonic poems (6), JB 1:112

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Má Vlast is made up of six tone poems all relating to Smetana's beloved Bohemia. The composer was struck deaf early in 1874, just before beginning the first piece in the set, and thus composed the entire work unable to hear a single note of it. Although its individual components are sometimes performed and recorded separately, most commonly the second in the set, The Moldau, the composer intended them as a single entity, to be performed like a suite or symphony. Thus played, the six parts of the work require about 75 minutes. The first, Vysehrad, pertains to a huge, historic rock along the Vltava River, near Prague. It opens with harps intoning a stately theme, the music growing more grandly noble as it proceeds. The mood soon turns somewhat agitated and heroic, before a reprise of the opening closes out Vysehrad.

    The next work, Vltava (The Moldau), begins with pairs of swirling flutes and clarinets depicting the two springs feeding the Moldau. Soon the famous main theme, based on the Swedish folk song Ack, Värmland du sköna, is presented. Horns and trumpets introduce a heroic mood to portray the Forest Hunt, which is followed by folk-like music in the "Peasant Wedding." Subdued, nocturnal music permeates "Moonlight: Dance of the Water Nymphs," while "the Rapids" is vigorous and stormy. The river theme returns, but soon gives way to a reprise of the main Vysehrad theme.

    Sárka portrays the famous female rebel resentful of male authority, who takes revenge on her unfaithful lover. The tempestuous opening depicts Sárka's anger, while the ensuing march music describes her lover, Ctirad, and his soldier-companions. The lyrical section that follows expresses Ctirad's love for Sárka, while the ensuing festive gaiety enacts the drunken revelry of the soldiers. The dramatic final section brilliantly depicts Sárka's slaughter of Ctirad and his men.

    The fourth, Bohemia's Woods and Meadows, opens busily, but as if winding down, the music representing one's arrival in the country. In the ensuing calm, the mood subtly changes from playful to gossamer and mysterious, and then to festive, the last section portraying a peasant festival.

    The final two works, Tábor and Blanik, are related both musically and programmatically. The city of Tábor was a fifteenth century Hussite stronghold, and the music here depicts the famous rebellion there. Smetana uses the theme from the Hussite chorale Ye Who Are God's Warriors and fashions a defiant, stirring, often heroic portrait of the ill-fated uprising. In the final piece, the same theme is used, but now to depict the defeated Hussites, who flee to Blanik mountain. There they sleep and eventually aid in the restoration of the Czech nation. The music is mostly pastoral in the first half and colorfully triumphant in the latter portion, especially in the return of the Vysehrad melody.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Vysehrad
    2. Vltava (The Moldau)
    3. Sárka
    4. Z ceských luhu a háju (From Bohemia's Woods & Fields)
    5. Tábor
    6. Blaník

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Chandos CHAN 20088
    2018 Supraphon SU 42502
    2018 Decca / London
    2018 Decca B002785902
    2017 Tudor Records TUD 7196
    2017 LSO Live LSO 0516
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875173752
    2016 Pavane / Pavane Records ADW 7574
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon B002475802
    2016 CuGate Classics CGC 023
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94853BR
    2014 Tuxedo / Tuxedo Music TUXCD 1001
    2013 Berlin Classics 0300539 BC
    2012 Decca / Mercury Living Presence 001653302
    2012 Orfeo D'Or C 836112B
    2011 Newton Classics 88020732
    2011 Denon Records
    2011 Supraphon SU 40652
    2011 Alto ALC1099
    2011 Decca
    2011 BIS 1805
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908521
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 EMI Classics 18741
    2010 Supraphon 40322
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Berlin Classics 0300067
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2009 Berlin Classics 0149572
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951576
    2008 Berlin Classics 0184512
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93634
    2008 Berlin Classics 0014412BC
    2008 Erato / Warner Classics
    2008 Virgin Classics 22129
    2008 Opus KURA 2075
    2008 Medici Arts 2072388
    2007 Arte Nova Classics 699630
    2007 Amado Classics 4000
    2007 Apex
    2007 Berlin Classics 0186002
    2006 Philips 4768717
    2006 Berlin Classics 0185652BC
    2006 Supraphon 38262
    2006 Supraphon SU38912
    2005 Berlin Classics 0032342
    2005 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 4006
    2005 Erato / Warner Classics
    2005 Decca 4674092
    2005 Erato
    2005 LSO 61
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 562204
    2003 Tahra 1
    2003 RCA 54331
    2003 Supraphon 37122
    2002 Supraphon 36612
    2001 Panton Records 811050
    2000 Amadis 7146
    2000 Virgin 61223
    2000 Supraphon 34652
    2000 Angel Records 61739
    2000 Angel Records / Warner Classics 7243573736
    2000 Seraphim Classics
    1998 Denon Records 17017
    1998 Carlton Classics 6702132
    1998 Supraphon 1896
    1998 Supraphon 111208
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459418
    1997 Virgin 45301
    1997 Biddulph Recordings WHL049
    1996 Supraphon 1913
    1996 Mercury 434379
    1995 Art of Classics 885920
    1995 Supraphon 19102
    1995 Supraphon 19862
    1995 Orfeo 115841
    1995 Chandos 9366
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 568649-2
    1995 Decca 443015
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 58944
    1994 Supraphon 1925
    1994 Supraphon 111895
    1994 Vox 5105
    1994 Supraphon 1119582
    1994 Supraphon 1119812
    1994 Naxos 550931
    1992 Telarc Distribution 80265
    1992 Deutsche Grammophon 431652
    1991 Teldec 74778
    1989 Deutsche Grammophon 429183
    Supraphon 1986
    Amado Classics 04033
    Supraphon 0546
    Berlin Classics 0020732
    Lys 187
    Denon Records 8095
    Studio Matous 00212131
    Supraphon 7724/25
    Supraphon 111997
    Teldec 35672
    Belart/Karussell 450060
    IMP Masters 56
    Russian Compact Disc (RCD) 70001
    Supraphon 110082
    Koch / Koch International Classics 37032
    Supraphon 111910
    Supraphon 111896
    Emergo 3988
    Multisonic 310152
    Supraphon 111913
    Digital Masterworks 71838
    Vox 9007
    Orfeo 115842
    Enterprise 017
    Supraphon 7724
    Deutsche Grammophon 419768
    Excelsior Recordings 31089
    Philharmonia of the Nations 41
    High Definition Classics 73
    Lys 36/39