Looking back at a unique Má vlast
On the eve of the final concert of the 76th annual Prague Spring Festival, we are taking a look back at this year’s opening concert through a short documentary film “Smetana de Luks” by the director Kateřina Hager,which offers a unique perspective on the behind-the-scenes preparations of this extraordinary event, when Collegium 1704 under the baton of Václav Luks performed Smetana’s Má vlast. “It was terribly interesting to follow Václav Luks from the first rehearsals,” says the director Hager. “There was his detailed work and his ability to unite an orchestra with truly international personnel. There were also powerful moments because the festival’s opening concert took place after a period when cultural events with an audience in the hall had been banned for a long time,” Hager emphasised. The 15-minute film will be premiered on 2 June at 8 p.m. on the Prague Spring Festival website.
“It certainly need not be emphasised that performing Má vlast at the opening concert of the Prague Spring Festival was an enormous challenge for Collegium 1704,” said Václav Luks in retrospect. “In spite of all of the difficulties connected with the uncertain situation when all kinds of measures were in place because of the epidemic, I view the opportunity of being involved with Smetana’s ingenious music and of appearing before a live audience as a gift, together with the responsibility implied by the importance of such a task. I expected that for the average listener who is used to the sound of Má vlast performed by a modern symphony orchestra, the sound of historical instruments from Bedřich Smetana’s day might be surprising or even difficult to accept. So I was overjoyed by the great number of positive reactions, and not only from Czechs, and also by the enthusiastic reception of our performance abroad. For us musicians, however, the Má Vlast project was not only a major artistic task, but alsoa moment of hope and a symbolic full stop after a long time without the possibility of gathering and doing creative work together,” said Luks in conclusion.
The Prague Spring Festival also made an audio recording of the concerts on 12 and 13 May, which are now being processed and prepared for release on CDs and in digital distribution.