‘There have been distinguished collections of Smetana's symphonic poems... but none quite to compare with this in excitement, richness of detail and, in the case of ‘Wallenstein's Camp', sonic spectacle - how well Smetana writes for the brass!' Gramophone
‘This is highly recommendable to anyone who wishes to investigate the orchestral music of Smetana beyond Ma Vlast and the Overture and Dances from the Bartered Bride.' Fanfare
Although Má vlast has always overshadowed his other orchestral music, Smetana developed a symphonic style which made a fundamental contribution to the identity of Czech national music.
The three symphonic poems from Smetana's ‘Swedish period', Richard III, Wallenstein's Camp and Hakon Jarl, are now regularly performed in concert halls; however, the remainder of the album presents lesser-known repertoire, mainly composed along Lisztian lines.
The genre of the symphonic poem was very important to Smetana and it was not long after his ‘Swedish period' that nationalism gradually came to prominence in his music, especially once he had returned to his native land. The other works on the disc demonstrate this nationalistic turn, and include Prague Carnival, one of his most fascinating works. Due to its ‘cacophony' it was not popular on its initial performances; yet it is in fact one of Smetana's most imaginative, if challenging scores.
Masterfully performed by Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic, these works provide an important introduction to Smetana‘s orchestral output and confirm Smetana's status as one of the greatest Czech composers of the nineteenth century.