April 29, 2018 | Svetlanov Hall of the MIPAC
“Masterpieces for All Times” Subscription series No. 2
Conductor – Charles OLIVIERI-MUNROE
Smetanа. Má vlast: “Vyšehrad”, “Vltava”, “Šárka”, “Z českých luhů a hájů”, “Tábor”, “Blaník”
A “Czech Glinka”, a “Czech Beethoven” - such attributes have been often referred to Bedřich Smetana as the founder of the Czech national classical music, an outstanding symphonist and, to a greater extent, a musician of a tragic fate. Like Beethoven, Smetana lost his hearing, and the indisposition afflicted him just during the work on the cycle of symphonic poems Má vlast (My Country). Despite the deafness, it took five years for the composer to complete his monumental Cycle – his most significant symphonic composition and probably the most famous today.
On the Russian stage, all the Six Poems of the “My Country” Cycle have not been heard for many years, and even separately (which was permitted by the author) are played extremely rarily. However, this is an exemplary opus, essential for studying the history of music, while the popularity of the second Poem, Vltava (The Moldau), is evidenced by its getting into mobile ring tones. Perhaps heroic and patriotic works are not in vogue now, although Smetana showed himself in this music primarily as an inspired poet-lyricist and a polished landscape painter. The Six Poems are most tightly related to Czech culture and history. No wonder during WW II the Nazis banned the “My Country” Cycle and murdered violist Zdeněk Němec for his article praising the Czech Philharmonic concert featuring Smetana's work.
An attempt to revive the masterpiece at Moscow Concert Halls will be undertaken by the NPR and Charles Olivieri-Munroe, whom some critics see as “a combination of Furtwängler and the young Karajan” (Südwestdeutche Zeitung). Olivieri-Munroe is a pupil of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and the Leoš Janáček Academy of Music in Brno, a talented student of Jiří Bělohlávek and Rudolf Baumgartner. He also trained with Ilya Musin, Yuri Temirkanov and Myung Whun Chung. He has got awards at five European contests of conductors and won the “Prague Spring” Competition. Today the Maestro is heading the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonie Südwestfalen, is an honorary chief conductor of the North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and a professor at the Prague Academy of Music Arts.