Album: Smetana, Má Vlast / Prague Philharmonia (Supraphon)

Beloved the world over for the sweeping minor-major melody of "Vltava", Smetana's cycle of symphonic poems, Má Vlast, has been a monument to Czech independence since its completion in 1879.

Born in 1981, conductor Jakub Hrusa attempts to shake off historical baggage here, peeling back the "vivid pastel" of tradition and adjusting tempi he believes Smetana himself might have changed had he not been deaf. What emerges is a reading with a stronger focus on musky woodwind, albeit to the detriment of the strings.