96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; Decca 483 3187 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)
Smetana’s six symphonic poems ‘My Homeland’ have assumed nationalistic significance following German and Russian occupations and have featured in Prague’s Spring International Music Festivals since 1952. These live performances, issued as a tribute to Jirí Belohlávek, who died in May 2017, are edited from two May ’14 concerts. It wasn’t the composer’s intention that the movements should be seen as an entity, nor could he have anticipated the popularity of ‘Vltava’ (No 2) which depicts the flow of the great river, with colourful ‘hunt’ and ‘wedding party’ episodes. (Fellow-Czech conductor Rafael Kubelík made four recordings and if you don’t know this music then try his 1990 Prague concert performance on YouTube.) The playing for Belohlávek is superb and the sound, from the Smetana Hall, is excellent too: plenty of impact and colour, with very convincing soundstaging. CB
Sound Quality: 95%
Hi-Fi News Lab Report
Evidently recorded with care to utilise the maximum available dynamic range and avoid peak compression [a maximum of –1dBFs on Sarka (No 3) – Graph, above], this genuine 96kHz recording is an exemplar of the high-res art. PM
Want the latest issue of Hi-Fi News? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!