Nanjing Poly Grand Theatre
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Vltava, symphonic poem from „My Country“
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 53, B108
Symphony no. 6 in D major, Op. 60
Yu-Chien (Benny) Tseng
Taiwanese violinist Yu-Chien (Benny) Tseng is rapidly building an international reputation as an emerging young soloist of enormous promise praised for his “grace, poise, and blistering virtuosity.”
Following his recent German debut with the Saarbrucken Radio Orchestra, the critic warmly praised his performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto: “Classically balanced without showing off; Sensitive, discreet nuances; Highly cultured sound; graceful and playful, relaxed elegance without attitude – Exemplary!”
In July 2015, he received the great honor of winning the top prize for violin at the XV International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition. A student of eminent pedagogues Aaron Rosand and Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute of Music, Tseng previously won first prize at both the Singapore International Violin Competition and the Sarasate Violin Competition in Pamplona, Spain.
Yu-Chien Tseng’s international career is already developing very well, and he has played with such orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Belgium, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra and the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie. At the Tchaikovsky Competition, his winning performances in the final round featured two of the violin repertoire’s most iconic concertos, by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. In an earlier round, he received high praise for the elegance and poise in his rendition of Mozart’s final violin concerto (“Turkish”), attracting the attention of Maestro Valery Gergiev. Tseng performed Mozart’s “Turkish” Concerto at the Competition’s Moscow Gala concert with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Gergiev. At the St. Petersburg Gala, Tseng performed the Tchaikovsky concerto. He was also invited to perform under Gergiev at the maestro’s festival in Mikkeli, Finland and will perform both the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos with Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic on their tour of Taiwan in November 2015.
His debut recording (2012) is an album of French violin sonatas (Franck, Ravel and Debussy) on the Fuga Libera Label.
Mr Tseng graduated from the Curtis Institute in spring 2016, but will continue advanced studies in the USA in the season ahead.
In the autumn of 2016, he will make a series of major debut orchestral appearances, including with the London Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He will also give recitals in Asia, America and Europe.
He plays the Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu 1732 Ex “Castelbarco-Tarisio,” on loan from the Chi-Mei Culture Foundation, Taiwan.
Mr. Tseng is under the general management of Armstrong Music (Beijing, Hong Kong and London).
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
The years 1878–1880 are often described as Antonín Dvořák’s “Slavonic period”, as the composer was particularly inspired by Slavonic folk music during that time. It was also over these three years that Dvořák wrote very successful works such as Serenade for Wind Instruments, three Slavonic Rhapsodies, Czech Suite, Symphony No. 6, the first set of Slavonic Dances, Gypsy Songs and a number of compositions for piano. The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A Minor Op. 53 is without doubt a masterpiece, and not just of Dvořák’s “Slavonic period”. It was written at the Sychrov chateau over the summer of 1879. The composer was evidently pleased by the interest shown by the Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock in another work “in a Slavonic mood”.
Like many of his contemporaries and forerunners, starting with Beethoven, Dvořák contemplated entrusting the solo part to the virtuoso Joseph Joachim, to whom he dedicated the concerto. Having met the virtuoso Dvořák heeded his advice and revised the work, completing the last changes in October 1882. The composer entrusted the first performance to the 26-year-old violinist František Ondříček. The premiere was on 14 October 1883 at Prague’s Žofín, with the National Theatre Orchestra under the baton of Mořic Anger. The work’s success was extraordinary and on his future tours Ondříček was able to introduce it on the world’s concert stages, where it continues to be heard to this day.
Dvořák composed Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60 spontaneously in the fall of 1880. It is the first work of Dvořák’s symphonic series to be published in print and as the first of all his symphonies it was performed abroad. The symphony was created during a short time span. Dvořák sketched it between 27 August and 20 September 1880 and finished the score soon afterwards between 27 September and 15 October. This took place in his “Slavic” period when during the previous two years 1878–1880 he composed three Slavonic Rhapsodies, the first series of his Slavonic Dances, Czech Suite and Violin Concerto in A minor.
Symphony No. 6 is an optimistic work with a warm and sunny atmosphere. Dvořák said that he tried to write a viable work which would please him as well. The countless reviews and analyzes of this composition are clearly dominated by the opinion that this is an essentially intrinsically Czech work of a healthy and earthy character, very pleasant and typical of Dvořák. It is undoubtedly also thanks to the fiery dance furiant, suggesting an affinity with Slavonic Dances. The Symphony in D major has a classical formal structure and its sections are well balanced. Its symphonic expression is enriched by a strong national accent. The sonata allegro of the first movement overflows with jubilant joy; Dvořák here primarily works with the main idea. In doing so he lavishly presents a number of other great musical ideas. Adagio of the second movement in the form of song is deeply meditative as well as lyrical. Scherzo of the third movement is a stylization of furiant with two vivid themes and, which has a gentle charm of a trio. The finale is a culmination of previous sections with dazzling joy and celebration of life.
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