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Colin Clarke
MusicWeb International, January 2017

Absolutely heart-warming to see the Hradec Králové Philharmonic on disc in Smetana’s most famous piece.

There is no doubting the enthusiasm of the playing here: try the climactic moments of the opening “Vyšehrad”. Smetana’s sometimes top-heavy orchestration is played with a native band’s aplomb, a conviction that casts all doubts before it. The most famous movement is of course “Vltava”, its main theme affectionately shaped here. There is an occasional tendency to sag, emanating from Štilec’s direction, and the recording is not kind on some of the orchestral timbres (horns and trumpets primarily); yet the overtly dramatic episodes do carry weight. This drama is heard most overtly in “Šarka” with its depiction of women’s war. Steeped in Czech legend, the music emerges as a tone-poem of Lisztian breadth: this is the most effective performance on this disc, the long lines aching for resolution. Štilec certainly paces this movement well. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, July 2016

Every Czech conductor has to record Smetana’s Má vlast as a rite of passage, but not all of them do it as well as Mark Štilec does here. I have no idea where Hradec Králové is, but the town’s orchestra plays very well for him, and Štilec has some persuasive ideas as to how the music should go.

One unusual feature of the performance is that, atypically in this work, it gets better as it goes.

Everything about this production, in fact, points to a project lovingly done and genuinely important to the participants. It deserves your attention. © 2016 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, July 2016

This is a straightforward, solid, and fairly muscular Má Vlast, with a good sense of pacing, balancing, and drama. Štilec seems to be saying that this music speaks for itself, and it has plenty to say if a conductor and orchestra present the score that way. The performance exaggerates and underlines nothing while giving every note its place, all without being dull. The orchestra has the right warm sound for Smetana, clearly knows the music, and is strong technically. © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Mark Novak
Fanfare, July 2016

…this is a satisfying performance of Smetana’s iconic orchestral canvas. The live recording injects some spontaneity and excitement into the proceedings and this provincial orchestra makes good music in the process. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review



Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, January 2016

…Štilec takes good tempi, largely comparable to Ančerl’s from his heyday. Vyšehrad sounds imposing… the winds are crisp and the bass line is nicely sketched. The counter-themes of Vltava are well-pointed… The rapids are colourfully projected with crisp, cracking percussion… © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Hudební Rozhledy, January 2016

The score of Smetana’s Má vlast is especially difficult to perform, and it has in this sense become clear that when a conductor comes to the orchestra with a clear vision and concept of the work, he creates a recording able to satisfy the highest and most exacting criteria. © 2016 Hudební Rozhledy





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