Live recordings


The Opening Concert of The Prague Spring Festival 2002

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi

live on 12th May 2002, Smetana Hall, Prague

Bedřich Smetana: My Country

The Czech PO has always been closely linked with Smetana´s cycle of symphonic poems My Country. However, it performed it in full for the first time as late as 1902, 13 years after the composition had been finished. After that the Czech PO set about devotedly promoting My Country both in Prague and elsewhere. The orchestra has played the work many times, its database says that between 1896 and 2001 it performed it 586 times in full, apart from numerous performances of the individual tope poems. It soon became the custom to perform Smetana´s cycle on the occasion of various important state anniversaries and other major events. In the 1920s Václav Talich, the chief conductor of the Czech PO, through constant chiselling of the finer details, gave Smetana´s ingenious work a shape which has since been accepted as authentic and exemplary. Later the chief conductors Karel Ančerl and Václav Neumann greatly contributed to the shaping and interpretation of the work.

In 2002 Smetana´s cycle was conducted at The Prague Spring Festival for the first time by a non- European, the Japanese conductor Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi. In his own way, yet not overstepping the traditional interpretation rooted in the orchestra, he interpreted the cycle with a spontaneity and a sense of precise detail. Having a feel for European romantic music he can successfully present the piece without having the first hand experience of its national context.

Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi (1940) has conducted all major Japanese orchestras, he is Musical Director of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra and Chief Guest Conductor of the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra, he is also conductor laureate of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, Chief Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and Permanent Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. He is a professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and guest professor at the Tokyo College of Music. Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi is also known for his numerous recordings, as well as his own compositions.

play video sampleplay video sample (Bedřich Smetana: My Country, Kobayashi)

director: Stanislav Vaněk
time: 90 min.