Magazine article Czech Music

Sir Charles Mackerras

Magazine article Czech Music

Sir Charles Mackerras

Article excerpt

Life with Czech Music

(Smetana, Dvorak)

The Prague Symphony Orchestra, The Czech Philharmonic, Sir Charles Mackerras conductor.

Production: Matous Vicinsky. Text: Eng., Ger., Fr., Cz. Recorded in the studio and live in the years 1999-2008 Prague (Rudolfinum,The Municipal House).

Released: 2010. DDD. TT: 71:04, 66:25, 78:31, 68:16, 79:46, 76:19). Supraphon SU 4041-2.


For the Czech concert scene, and above all for the recording companies, Sir Charles Mackerras's death last year is an event with an impact that we shall be feeling ever more painfully as time goes by. Sir Charles Mackerras was a conductor very much welcomed by the most famous orchestras. His eighty-fifth birthday (unfortunately he did not live to see it) was commemorated by the Berlin Philharmonic with a special programme. Originally he was to have conducted the concert himself, but in the end his place was taken by our Tomas Netopil. A major compilation of Mackerras's recordings was produced by Decca for his eightieth birthday. Czech music was strongly represented on this, and it is to the credit of Supraphon that this time--undoubtedly in connection with Mackerras's death--it has reacted promptly, and even with three albums. The first is devotee to Smetana and Dvorak, the second to Janacek and Martinu, the third to Josef Suk.

Despite his legendary versatility, Sir Charles Mackerras showed a striking fondness for Czech music from his youth. His private study meetings with Vaclav Talich after the Second World War are well-known. He was so intensely interested in Janacek that at the turn of the 1 970s/80s he made complete recordings of his five operas for Decca after detailed study of Janacek's manuscripts in Brno. Gradually he became a familiar face on our concert podiums. He appeared in Czech recording studios relatively late, however, in 1 981 (in Brno he made the first complete recording of Bohuslav Martinu's The Greek Passion for Supraphon). Only then did he start recording Janacek for the Czech label and after another twenty yea's Smetana and Dvorak. It was practically just the last decade that saw a loll scale evasion of his recordings - studio and live--to the extent that this presently reviewed album could be published in 201 0. We are living in a time of re-editions of older but unforgettable recordings with a right to life in the future. These two Mackerras compilations mosl definitely have a worthy-place among them.

In the first album Smetana is represented by just one title, but a title of fundamental importance. …

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