Pénélope, overture to the opera
Four Fragments from Psyché for orchestra and women’s choir
Daphnis et Chloé, suite from the ballet No. 2
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Jaroslav Brych first completed studies in the French horn performance at the Pardubice Conservatory in Otakar Tvrdýʼs class and then conducting in the Prague Academy of Performing Arts at Václav Neumann, Josef Veselka and Radomil Eliška. He repeatedly participated in Helmuth Rillingʼs courses of conducting in Stuttgart.
In the years of 1984 to 1997, he was the choirmaster of the Charles University Choir, from 1987 to 1994, he worked as a conductor and principal conductor of the Czech Army Symphonic Orchestra, in the years of 1992 to 1993, he was the conductor of the Opera Mozart Prague, since 1994 he had been Pavel Kühnʼs second choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, in the years of 1996–2005 itʼs principal choirmaster. In the years of 2006–2012, he was the choirmaster of the Prague Chamber Choir. Nowadays, he is the choirmaster of the Foerster Chamber Choir, he occasionally cooperates with the Prague Philharmonic Choir, Kühn Choir of Prague, Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and other Czech orchestras. Apart from conductor and choirmaster activities, he teaches at the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague and at the Pardubice Conservatory.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC) is a leading European vocal formation. As one of the most prominent Czech professional ensembles, it operates under the sole jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. In the course of the choirʼs long history since its foundation in 1935, it has been directed by a succession of distinguished Czech choirmasters. Its current principal choirmaster, Lukáš Vasilek, has been at the PPCʼs head since 2007.
The PPCʼs repertoire is centered primarily around oratorio and cantata works. In their presentation, the choir has worked with pre-eminent international orchestras (in recent years including e.g. the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Czech Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Dresden or the Wiener Symphoniker, among others), and with some of the most distinguished conductors (most recently including Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Philippe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta and Sir Simon Rattle). Beyond its standard choral repertoire, the PPC is likewise active in the domain of opera, working regularly with the National Theatre in Prague, and since 2010 holding the status of choir in residence at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Apart from these commitments, the PPC engages in a number of its own independent projects. Since 2011 it has produced a choral concert series in Prague, with a programme focused notably on presentations of highly sophisticated and less well known choral works, either a cappella or with chamber-scale instrumental accompaniment. The choir regards as an inseparable part of its activity educational endeavours addressing the young generations of musicians. Targeting students of voice disciplines has been its Choral Academy, a project aimed at offering young up-and-coming artists practical training through work with a professional vocal ensemble; and in a special programme intended for children, the PPC organizes a series of educational concerts, plus on-site singing workshops taking place in schools.
The PPC has to its credit an extensive discography, with many titles released by major international labels. Over the last few years, these have included e.g. Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Sony Classical and Supraphon. The last season saw the release of, most notably, two important albums, one featuring Bohuslav Martinůʼs cantatas (Supraphon, 2016), the other Antonín Dvořákʼs Stabat Mater (Decca, 2017). The last mentioned recording was made with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of its principal conductor, the late Jiří Bělohlávek.
In the 2017/2018 season the PPC is up for concerts in Prague with several different orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic and the Wiener Symphoniker, apart from that looking forward to a Russian tour with the St Petersburg Philharmonic and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow under the baton of Vladimir Fedoseyev, plus appearances in Israel with the Israel Philharmonic and the conductor Gianandrea Noseda. At the Dresdner Musikfestspiele, the choir will be performing with the Munich Philharmonic, and in summer it will return to the Bregenz festival for its production of Bizetʼs Carmen, plus the world premiere of Berthold Goldschmidtʼs opera Beatrice Cenci. Finally, it will accompany the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Jakub Hrůša, in a new Decca recording of Antonín Dvořákʼs Requiem.
“Her sound has passion, grit and electricity, but also a disarming warmth and sweetness that can unveil the music’s hidden strains of lyricism...”
- New York Times
Isabelle Faust captivates her listeners through her insightful and faithful interpretations, based on a thorough knowledge of the historical context of the works as well as her attention to current scholarship.
At an early age, Isabelle Faust won the prestigious Leopold Mozart and Paganini competitions and was soon invited to appear with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. 2016 marks her first year as “Artistic Partner” for the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
Isabelle Faust performs a wide-ranging repertoire, from Johann Sebastian Bach all the way through to contemporary composers such as Ligeti, Lachenmann and Widmann. To highlight this versatility, in addition to her mastery of the great symphonic violin concertos, Isabelle Faust also performs works such as Kurtágʼs Kafka Fragments with the soprano Anna Prohaska, or Schubert’s octet on historical instruments. She will premiere several new works for violin and orchestra during the next seasons, including concerti by the composers Ondřej Adámek, Marco Stroppa, Oscar Strasnoy and Beat Furrer.
Over the course of her career, Isabelle Faust has regularly performed or recorded with world-renowned conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, Philippe Herreweghe, Daniel Harding, Bernard Haitink and Andris Nelsons. During recent years Isabelle Faust developed a close relationship with the late Claudio Abbado and performed and recorded under his baton. Their recording of Beethovenʼs and Bergʼs violin concertos with the Orchestra Mozart received a “Diapason dʼOr” (France), “Echo Klassik” (Germany), “Gramophone Award 2012” (UK) as well as a “Record Academy Award” (Japan).
Faust has recorded many discs for Harmonia Mundi with her recital partner Alexander Melnikov. These include their latest album with Brahms’s sonatas for violin and piano, as well as Schumann’s piano trios. Both, her recording of Mozart’s violin concerti with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini, as well as Bach’s harpsichord sonatas with Kristian Bezuidenhout were released in 2016/2017.
Robin Ticciati has been Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra since the 2009/2010 season and Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera since the summer of 2014. He took up his position as Music Director of Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in September 2017.
In the current and next seasons, the 34-year old conductor will return to Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Staatskapelle Dresden, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Vienna Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Czech Philharmonic. In November 2016 he toured with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Anne-Sophie Mutter, performing concerts at Vienna’s Musikverein, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Gasteig in Munich and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. In the 2014/2015 season Robin Ticciati led a European tour of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and could be heard at the Konzerthaus in Vienna in the context of a residency with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Vienna Symphony. From 2010 to 2013 he was First Guest Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony.
During his first two seasons as Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival, Robin Ticciati conducted new productions of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail and a revival of the Ravel double bill with L’heure espagnole and Lʼenfant et les sortilèges. In the current season he will conduct the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a new production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito (directed by Claus Guth). Besides Glyndebourne, in the recent past Robin Ticciati conducted Britten’s Peter Grimes at La Scala in Milan, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at the Salzburg Festival, Tchaikovsky’s Eugen Onegin at the Royal Opera House in London, and gave his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. In March 2017 he successfully returned to the Met with Tchaikovsky’s Eugen Onegin.
In his eighth season as Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) Robin Ticciati focused on contemporary composers, as well as works by Bruckner, Mozart and Strauss; in the forthcoming 2017/2018 season the backbone of his program will be Dvořák. Tours have led him with SCO through Europe and to Asia, as well as the Edinburgh International Festival. Their recordings on the Linn Records label – symphonies by Haydn, two Berlioz albums and a complete recording of Schumann’s symphonies – received numerous awards and were enthusiastically received by the critics. Robin Ticciati and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin presented their debut CD with works by Debussy and Fauré in September 2017, also on the Linn Records label.
Robin Ticciati was born in London and trained first as a violinist, pianist and percussionist. He played in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain until he turned to conducting at the age of 15. His mentors and patrons include Sir Colin Davis and Sir Simon Rattle. In 2014 he was appointed the “Sir Colin Davis Fellow of Conducting” at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Together with Anton Webern, the Austrian composer Alban Berg (1885–1935) is the most important disciple of Arnold Schoenberg, the founder of dodecaphony. However, he did not accept all the aesthetic principles of his teacher and he forged his own path in music.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra came into being late in Berg’s life, when due to the ban of his work in Nazi Germany he suffered mentally and physically. The impetus for writing this violin concerto was deep grief. The work is dedicated to “the memory of an angel” – the deceased eighteen-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler, a former muse of many Viennese artists. The song is a good example of the above-mentioned treatment of Schoenberg’s dodecaphony by Berg. Although the concerto has a well-defined series of twelve tones with which the composer works, in several places it indicates tonal centers, by which it breaches the strict dodecaphonic rules and approaches the major-minor system. It is interesting that the first movement contains a folk song from Carinthia and the final section of the two-movement composition features a quote and the subsequent development of themes from Bach’s chorale Es ist genug.
Gabriel Fauré was a prominent organist, composer and teacher. In 1905, he became Director of the Paris Conservatory. He was one of the most progressive French composers of his time. Fauré’s only opera Pénélope is, like Césare Franck’s Psyché, a celebration of love, in this case a faithful love. It is the story of Pénélope, Queen of Ithaca, who was waiting for twenty years for the return of her husband, King Ulysses. Fauré worked on the opera each summer between 1907 and 1912. The opera opens with an emotionally charged prelude based on two main motifs of the opera – a melancholy sequence of chords representing Pénélope and the majestic theme of Ulysses. For the concert performance of the opera, Fauré closed the prelude with a lyrical coda using the soft love theme from the end of the opera.
The Belgian composer César Franck had lived in Paris since 1843 and worked as an organist and music teacher. In both of these fields he achieved considerable respect, as evidenced by his appointment as a professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872. His symphonic poem Psyché (the most complete and by its form the most original of his five symphonic poems) is based on the Greek myth of the love between the nymph Psyché and Éros. This piece often appears in an abridged version consisting of four most important fragments. The first section presents Psychée’s sensual dream about Éros. In the second section, Psyche is tenderly woken up by zephyrs. The third fragment depicts the journey of Psyche through Éros’s garden, in which she gets close to her beloved. Here the ethereal singing of a choir is heard, celebrating the mighty power of love. The composition concludes with a conversation between lovers, which results in a brilliant apotheosis of their love.
At the same time when Fauré composed his Pénélope, another ancient love motif was being processed into the form of a musically-dramatic work by his most famous pupil, Maurice Ravel. Ravel wrote the ballet Daphnis et Chloé between 1909 and 1912 upon commission from Sergei Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes in Paris. Ravel set to music the love story of a goatherd and shepherdess who, with the help of gods, overcame all pitfalls. He worked on it very hard, re-writing it time and again. The premiere, therefore, had to be postponed, and instead of the originally planned spring of 1910 it took place on 8 June 1912. The ballet is Ravel’s longest work, from which he later extracted music to make two orchestral suites in three movements. The second of the suites includes much of the last part of the ballet. It opens with a description of a daybreak, after which Daphnis and Chloe give thanks to the gods for their help. The suite is closed by ecstatic Bacchanalia.
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