Friday, May 10, 2024

Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, Berlin

You don’t have to be a native to fully appreciate Czech legends, flora and fauna, and sights, as portrayed by Smetana in his six-movement patriotic cycle – Paavo Berglund proved this some years ago in his Dresden recording – and Kirill Petrenko followed suit with an idiomatic, incident-packed and flexible rendition that satisfied musical, picturesque and dramatic requirements – beginning with a solemn overseeing castle, then (attacca) the gloriously varied journey of a proud river, the water’s current flowing naturally, raptly moonlit at one point, played exquisitely (on this occasion Petrenko opted for antiphonal violins with left-positioned basses). The movement describing the revengeful man-hating ‘Šárka’ and her troupe seduced (Wenzel Fuchs’s clarinet contributions should be mentioned) and thrilled, followed by a suitably panoramic view of secretive forests and inspiring countryside ripe for exhilarating dancing, let off the leash by Petrenko, who went on to pair the final two (historical/folkloric) pieces, investing gravitas, impetuosity, expressive reflection (woodwinds) and ultimate striding triumph. The Berliners bring Má vlast to the BBC Proms on August 31.

  1. Vyšehrad (The High Castle)
  2. Vltava (The Moldau)
  3. Šárka
  4. Z českých luhů a hájů (From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields)
  5. Tábor
  6. Blaník (Prom 55)