Dear listeners, please note that there has been a change in programme and performers.
Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (original version)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Don Giovanni, overture to the opera
Ludwig van Beethoven
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
“Pianist Lukáš Vondráček is the master of perfectly voiced textures” (The Straits Times, June 2015)
The indisputable winner of the International Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition 2016, Lukáš Vondráček, has an exciting 2017/2018 season ahead of him. It sees him make debuts with the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra at the Grand Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra.
He will return to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra with Vasily Petrenko, Orchestre National de Belgique, Prague, Bournemouth and Sydney symphony orchestras amongst others. Recitals will take him to Wiener Konzerthaus, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, the Louvre, a return to the Concertgebouw, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Portland, Chicago and to festivals such as PianoEspoo in Finland and the Rheingau Musik Festival. Lukáš starts off the season with a tour of Brazil with recitals and orchestra concerts in Belo Horizonte, São Paulo and Florianópolis.
Recent highlights include concerts with The Philadelphia Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Philharmonia and New Jersey Symphony orchestras as well as recitals at the Mariinsky Theatre, in Mumbai, Singapore, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, at Brussel’s Flagey and the Menuhin Festival Gstaad.
International awards include first prizes at the Hilton Head and San Marino International Piano Competitions and Unisa International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa, as well as the Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award at the 2009 International Van Cliburn Piano Competition.
Born in 1989, Ben Gernon first attracted international attention in 2013 when he won the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductor’s Award after a unanimous vote by the jury led by Ingo Metzmacher. Gernon is praised repeatedly for his effortless authority on the podium, his drive and command of the orchestra and his incisive, heart-felt and evocative interpretations, and has quickly earned himself a reputation as one of the finest and most exciting young conductors working today both in the concert hall and more recently in the opera house. Working now with some of the world’s major orchestras, Gernon takes up his position of Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in the 2017/2018 season, one of the youngest conductors to have held a titled position with a BBC orchestra.
This season Gernon looks forward to many significant orchestral debuts across the globe including Oslo Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Munich Chamber, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony orchestras, Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, as well as returns to the BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish, Milwaukee Symphony amongst others. As Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, Gernon will conduct the orchestra in several concerts across the season in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and elsewhere, with soloists such as Richard Goode and the Berlin Philharmonic’s Solo Horn Stefan Dohr, as well as in the studio and family and education concerts.
Gernon is a regular guest conductor with most of the UK’s orchestras, including the Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony and BBC Symphony orchestras and has conducted twice at the BBC Proms, including on the occasion of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s 80th birthday. Highlights of his 2016/2017 season in Europe included debuts with the Vienna Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony orchestras. In the US Gernon made his debut with the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia and returned to the LA Philharmonic to make his debut at the Hollywood Bowl following his season as Dudamel Fellow in 2013/2014, and in the summer of 2017 he made his debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
A keen opera conductor, Gernon made his debut in 2016/2017 with Glyndebourne Touring Opera conducting Don Giovanni and returns in 2017/2018 for a production of Barber of Seville. In spring 2017 he made his debut at Stuttgart Opera conducting The Marriage of Figaro and in August 2017, at Royal Swedish Opera with The Magic Flute. Previous productions have included a specially-crafted arrangement of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Young Singers Academy at the Salzburg Festival, and looking further ahead he will make his debut at London’s Coliseum with English National Opera in 2018/2019.
Ben Gernon studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Sian Edwards, with whom he still works closely, and with Sir Colin Davis, who was a profoundly influential figure in Gernon’s musical development.
Mozartsʼs opera Don Giovanni is inseparably connected with Prague and the Czech musical life. It was preceded by the opera Le Nozze di Figaro, which in Vienna failed to win the favors of the court and was performed only shortly, but whose Prague production with Mozartsʼs personal presence was a triumph. Therefore Mozart gladly accepted the commission for a new opera to be composed for Prague, Don Giovanni. He took part in preparations of its premiere, and according to the well-know legend – due to the fact that the opera was not entirely completed – Mozart allegedly did not get down to writing the overture until the night before the premiere on 29 October 1787. Mozart designated his “opera operas” ad dramma giocoso, suggesting that its fatefully serious framework features comic moments. This birefringence is characteristic of the orchestral overture to the opera.
Johannes Brahms had to work hard to produce orchestral compositions because of his perfectionism. His First Symphony was performed in 1876. It was soon followed by the Second Symphony; together with Violin Concero these were three compositions by which Brahms established himself as a major figure of the Viennese musical life. In Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 Brahms extricated himself from his dependence on Beethoven, which is still quite apparent in Brahmsʼs First Symphony.
The Second Symphony was composed in the summer of 1877. It has the identical key as the Violin Concerto and Brahms created it in similar state of mind. The widely vaulted melody of the main theme of the first movement is one of the most impressive tunes by Brahms. The second movement maintains a similar mood. Scherzo of the third movement has the character of classic minuet. The final movement unexpectedly changes the peaceful mood of the composition. The primere of Brahmsʼs Second Symphony took place on 30 December 1877 in Vienna and was performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Richter.
Piano was Ludwig van Beethoven’s most intimate instrument. He studied piano alongside composition with Christian Gottlob Neefe, the conductor of the Bonn opera, and it was Neefe who in 1783 published in Cramer’s Magazin der Musik a note praising the remarkable talent for piano showed by his young pupil: he would “certainly become a second Mozart if he continues as he has begun”. In late 1792 Beethoven left for Vienna to study counterpoint with Joseph Haydn, and as early as 1796 his contemporaries described him as a “musical genius”. In the same year he apparently wrote down the first ideas for his Third Piano Concerto, though he later put it aside, and did not return to it until 1802. He finished it early the next year.
Whereas Beethoven’s first two piano concertos still show the composer’s admiration for Mozart’s late piano concertos, in the third the influence of his counterpoint studies is already conspicuous. Typically of Beethoven’s mature oeuvre, new elements include bold drama of strongly contrasted musical ideas, passionate intensity juxtaposed with intimate lyricism, a “heroic style” and a symphonic treatment of the orchestra part. The premiere took place on 5 April 1803 in Vienna, with the composer performing the solo part, which he had not yet managed completely to write down, and so partially improvised, according to the testimony of his page turner.
Wed – Fri / 6:30 p.m. / Rudolfinum – Suk Hall or Western Lounge
Location is specified for each concert in the concert programme and navigation signs at the Rudolfinum.
Pre-concert talks are offered free of charge as a bonus before the evening concerts of the A and B subscription series. They are given by conductors, soloists and members of the Czech Philharmonic, as well as musicologists and music writers who take part in discussions or lectures which will prepare for the evening concert.
They are presented by Eva Hazdrová-Kopecká, Pavel Ryjáček or Petr Kadlec.
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