Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Von Matacic (Orfeo)
The Croatian conductor Lovro von Matacic (1899-1984) is best remembered for a distinguished series of recordings made in the 1950s and 60s that reveal an exceptional depth of insight over a wide repertoire that included composers as far apart as Bruckner, Puccini and Lehár. Towards the end of his career, he was associated with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, with whom he conducted this famous performance of Smetana's Má Vlast in 1982, now given its first commercial release. His speeds might be considered slow in some quarters, controversially so, one suspects, at the start of From Bohemia's Woods and Fields. But this is a deeply felt, beautifully played interpretation that ranks among the most moving on disc. Complete performances were still rare outside Czechoslovakia, and you're very aware of the audience responding with ever-increasing enthusiasm to music with which many would have been unfamiliar at the time. The sound is clear, if a bit top-heavy – you need to turn your bass up a bit to get the best from it.
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