Smetana: Ma Vlast / Prague Phil, Hrusa
The most recent Supraphon recording of My Country dates back to the halcyon days of 1990. In the first year of freedom, at the euphoric opening concert of the Prague Spring festival the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by the 76-year-old Rafael Kubelik, who had just returned from exile. Twenty years on, the festival entrusted this honourable task to the 28-year-old conductor Jakub Hrusa, who emulated the legendary Vaclav Neumann in becoming the youngest conductor in history to open the festival. Hrusa, while respecting the time-honoured interpretational tradition, primarily focused on faithful and well-considered reading of the score. Owing to the legendary vigour, musical fidelity and sheer engagement of the Prague Philharmonia, those in attendance at Prague's Rudolfinum were witness to a truly remarkable and inspired performance of this symbol of Czech music. The more chamber-like configuration lets the fine planes ring out in an unusually transparent sound, so that the water nymphs really are water nymphs... By contrast, the extreme drama of Sarka resounds with a surprising power. As evidenced by the rapturous response to the concert, the conductor certainly succeeded in achieving his goal - retelling My Country in a manner that would make the audience feel as though they were hearing it for the first time.