Volume one of this series was an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and here Gianandrea Noseda conducts his second instalment in his Smetana Orchestral Works series.
This latest programme is made up of the familiar Bartered Bride Overture and Dances with the overtures and ballets of his lesser-known operas, including his first opera The Brandenburgers - performed with the Ballet from Act I, The Kiss – which was his first collaboration with the brilliant young librettist and poet, Eliska Krasnohorska, and The Devil’s Wall all of which offer Smetana’s masterful orchestration, panache and virtuosity. They are performed with assurance by the BBC Philharmonic.
“Even the most familiar pages from The Bartered Bride… come up fresh as paint, the BBC Philharmonic's immaculate virtuosity as musicianly and refined as it is sparkling. Everything is permeated with a sense of Czech pride and ideals, a mood memorably captured by Noseda.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“An extraordinary, implacable performance of the Libuse prelude makes the disc worth hearing.” The Guardian, 24th July 2009 ***
“…the lyrical tragedy Dalibor, a great hymn to friendship, is rarely performed outside his homeland, and even there, relatively few will ever see Libuše, the story of Bohemia's legendary prophetess-queen, who married a humble ploughman. All the more valuable, therefore, is this sampler from the versatile Gianandrea Noseda, whose glossy, vibrant performances more than hint at what we're missing.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2009 *****
“Brilliant, picturesque and nationalistic, all the music on this superb disc pays colourful tribute to 'the father of Bohemian music'. Even the most familiar pages from The Bartered Bride come up fresh as paint, the BBC Philharmonic's immaculate virtuosity as musicianly and refined as it is sparkling. However rapid and propulsive the tempo, nothing is pushed or over-driven.
The Polka's grandiose opening leads to music of a courtly charm, enough to set even the least susceptible heads nodding and feet tapping. The Furiant's catchy cross-rhythms lead to a suavely romantic melody and in the Overture to TheSecret there is a typical Smetana progression from sobriety to lightness and exultance.
The Prelude to Libuše was written to celebrate the coronation of the Emperor Franz Josef. But even if Smetana was left in the lurch (the event never took place) his ceremonial fanfares carry all the importance of a promised state occasion.
The Entr'acte from Dalibor is a special delight, a magical dream-like interlude before a return in The Two Widows to hyperactivity. Everything is permeated with a sense of Czech pride and ideals, a mood memorably captured by Noseda.
Chandos's sound is exceptional.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010