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George Jellinek
Opera News, March 2002

"The CD incarnation of that historic set is now at hand and, as produced by Ward Marston for Naxos, its technical restoration is probably as good as the listener is likely to get. 1933 was a long time ago, and we have no right to expect anything approaching aural perfection. What we do get from this performance is authenticity in abundance. Conductor Otakar Ostrcil, who had been music director of Prague's National Theater since 1920, gets spirited, accurate playing from an orchestra that copes with his sometimes breakneck tempos."



Lawson Taitte
The Dallas Morning News, January 2002

"Naxos' historical series has mostly been devoted to famous performances by celebrities of past generations. This set, though, is a real sleeper. A cast of Czech singers made the first recording of Bedrich Smetana's classic comic opera, The Bartered Bride, in 1933. Acoustic genius Ward Marston has made the sound very acceptable on CD. These performers from nearly 70 years ago have terrific presence and terrific personalities.

There's no translation, but the plot summaries make the action easy to follow. The singers have the music and story in their blood. And conductor Otakar Ostrcil whips up the famous orchestral dances to a merry frenzy."



Alain Steffen
Pizzicato, January 2002

"... The orchestra of the Czech National Opera under Otakar Ostrcil produces a veritable tour de force. This 'Bartered Bride' is an early, rare opera-document, rendered by a one-hundred percent authentic Czech voice- and musical-culture. A great recording!"

SUPERSONIC ("Extraordinarily masterful performance. A must!")



Alan Rich
L.A. Weekly, November 2001

"Ever since I sold my 78s and left home unencumbered, one of the albums that I've most often longed to hear again has been RCA-Victor M-193, Smetana's The Bartered Bride, complete on 15 shellacs, in a performance - by the Prague National Opera under Ottakar Ostrcil - that seemed at the time as pure an essence of romantic comedy as ever was. Now, I report with practically gurgling joy, it still does. Naxos, that most unpredictable of all labels, has reissued that performance on two little silvery discs that weigh about 1/200 of the pristine weight, in a remastering by restorer Ward Marston, priced at far fewer 2001 dollars ($12) than the original sold for in 1933 dollars ($22.50)...

Naxos has now moved into territory abandoned by the majors, as preserver of the industry's legendary past: not only complete operas but also forgotten unforgettable soloists. Marston and his crew create minor miracles in rescuing ancient sounds in their original - not beefed-up - resonance. And when Emil Pollert, the marriage broker in this new/old, glorious, best-of-all Bartered Brides, sings out his 'A chalupu a chalupu,' I laugh myself silly once again, and the years fall away."



Alan Blyth

"This is a historic issue of appreciable importance. It comprises the first-ever (1933) recording of Smetana's most popular opera, performed by a team steeped in the tradition of interpreting the work in Prague... All the cast have the great advantage of being Czech so that the recitative as much as the arias flow with a natural feeling for speech rhythms and accentuation. ...The somewhat confined recording has been miraculously restored by Ward Marston."






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7:37:35 PM, 1 September 2014
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