Smetana wrote his cycle of 6 romantic character pieces called Rêves (Dreams) in 1875, while he was already suffering from deafness. This cycle is sometimes called his 'Ma Vlast' for the piano, as the Rêves are roughly contemporary with, and similar in scope to, his orchestral masterwork. While not quite on a par with Ma Vlast, this colorful cycle contains much attractive material, and proves once more Smetana's skill at composing masterful virtuoso piano works.
The cycle of six characteristic pieces in romantic style „Sny“ (Dreams) was composed in 1875, when Smetana was already suffering from deafness, and originally published under the French title „Reves“. This is one of Smetana's most ambitious piano works, similar in scope and sprit to his famous cycle of tone poems Ma Vlast (My Fatherland). The individual pieces are dedicated to former female pupils from the noble family Thun-Hohenstein, in grateful acknowledgement of their finiancial support in finding treatment for his progressing illness.
The opening piece „Zanikle stesti“ (Vanished Hapiness) shows strong influence of Liszt, both in the texture and harmony. The second piece „Utecha“ (Consolation) is more lyrical and Chopinesque, Smetana’s typical use of refined counterpoint framing an impressive and stormy middle section. The third piece „V Cechach“ (In Bohemia), with the subtitle „Vesnicky vyjev“ (Country Scene), changes the mood from personal to nationalistic. Similar to the late Czech Dances, it combines exuberant folk elements with virtuoso flourishes. The fourth piece „V salone (In salon) takes its name from Smetana’s room in Jabkenice, rather than referring to a Parisian-style salon, and is full of strange melancholy and loneliness. The fifth piece, „Pred hradem“ (In Front of The Castle) uses heavy chords and a steady march rhythm to create a recollection of old medieval times, and contains a quotation from Smetana’s opera Dalibor. The dreamy middle section is based on a melody taken from the choral. The sixth and final piece „Slavnost ceskych sedlaku“ (Czech peasant’s celebration), is the most challenging of all and concludes the cycle in true national sprit and a riot of Lisztian virtuosity.
|3||En Bohême, Scène champêtre||5:10||Pohl, R.|
|4||Près du Château||5:35||Pohl, R.|