Daniel Barenboim conductor
Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra come together in Paris to celebrate Smetana's masterpiece
It is nearly 20 years since Daniel Barenboim last visited Paris with the Vienna Philharmonic, even though he has maintained close ties with the orchestra for a very long time. They return to Paris together to perform a piece that is seldom played in concerts, at least not in its complete version. In 1875, when My Homeland was written, Smetana's Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Because of its "nationalist" overtones, it is one of the major works in the repertoire of Central Europe, in the grip of instability at the end of the 19th century. This is a cycle of six symphonic poems, each of which illustrates an episode in history or a country scene in Bohemia, drawing on Slavic popular melodies. Even if the poem Vltava - the second in the cycle - is a real "hit", the six episodes were designed to be played together and the musician uses a number of leitmotivs that recur throughout the work. The Vienna Philharmonic has made several recordings of the work (under Furtwängler in 1954, Kubelik in 1958, Cluytens in 1960, Karajan in 1985, etc.). Daniel Barenboim has also recorded it, but with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.