MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

 58,771 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for Ł12 postage paid world-wide.

Bedrich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Má Vlast (1874-79) [76:49]
Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra/Marek Štilec
rec. June 2015, Hradec Králové
ARCO DIVA UP0180 2131 [76:49]

There is no great shortage of recordings of Má Vlast. To add to the great store of historical inscriptions – several by Talich, including the memorable live broadcast from occupied Prague, several by Kubelík and not to mention Ančerl, Jeremiáš and other Czech luminaries – we’ve had younger readings from such as rising star Jakub Hrůša and his Prague Philharmonia (PKF) forces at the 2010 Prague Spring. Tomáš Netopil and his Prague Symphony Orchestra have also recorded it on FOK 0001–2 031. Recent additions to the catalogue have thus offered smaller-scaled readings, less predicated on tonal mass and more on sorting out balances and lines; less Bohemian woods, more tree, perhaps.

In this micro-climate comes Marek Štilec with the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra, by no means an unknown quantity but an orchestra probably best-known to those with particular interests in Czech music. It was led for a decade between 1991 and 2001 by František Vajnar, whose recordings will be well-remembered by enthusiasts. Štilec’s band sounds roughly comparable in size to Hrůša’s from the sound of it. This live recording was given in June 2015 at an unnamed location - though I assume it was at the orchestra’s concert hall. There is barely any audience noise and no applause and any patching has been expertly done.

In the main Štilec takes good tempi, largely comparable to Ančerl’s from his heyday. Vyšehrad sounds imposing though it’s subjected to little tempo nudges here and there; the winds are crisp and the bass line is nicely sketched. The counter-themes of Vltava are well-pointed, though they do sound a touch lacking in impulse. The rapids are colourfully projected with crisp, cracking percussion; detail is arguably a bit too localised to allow the music to sweep onwards and I have reservations about the two final chords – a bit too pomposo. Štilec resists the temptation to turn the bassoon’s snores too cartoony in Šárka but there’s a tendency to rhetorical grandeur at the expense of affectionate, uplifting phrasing in From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields. This whole movement falls somewhat flat, a feeling not helped by a strangely indulgent tempo. The less complicated (interpretatively) diptych of Tábor and Blaník go well – and Štilec himself does well to keep expectation levels high in the two movements where repetition can imperil tension previously built up.

Despite the virtues of this disc, which includes a good booklet note, this can’t be seen as a central recommendation. It’s a fine souvenir of the orchestra, however.

Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount