Smetana draws miniature portraits of his homeland

Mystic sunrise. © Charles Thibo

All is well. The sun will rise just like any other day and all will be well. There is no need to doubt or to fear. This is the reassuring message I read into Bedrich Smetana’s two sets of “Czech Dances” JB 1:107 and JB 1:114. Very nice piano pieces, and by keeping them short, Smetana reduced them to the essence. Miniature portraits of his country reflecting either traditional dances like the polka or everyday ideas: a hen, a bear, an onion, a parading soldier. He wrote the pieces between 1877 and 1881, at the end of a turbulent career. They have been recorded by the US pianist Garrick Ohlsson.

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