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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major KV 219
Symphony no. 6 in D major, Op. 60
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.
violin, artistic director of the project
Josef Špaček is fast emerging as one of the most accomplished violinists of his generation. He studied with Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School in New York, Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with Jaroslav Foltýn at the Prague Conservatory. He was a laureate of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and won top prizes at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.
Highlights during the 2017/2018/2019 seasons include a return visit to the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Marc Albrecht, as well as debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Capitole de Toulouse and Thomas Søndergård, the Bamberger Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Maxim Emelyanchev, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Michael Sanderling, the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Aziz Shokhakimov, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo and Tomáš Netopil, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Christian Vásquez, the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and Daniel Blendulf and the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra and Lio Kuokman. He continues to appear as a soloist of the Czech Philharmonic for concerts, both in Prague and on tour, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, Jakub Hrůša and Thomas Adès.
Previous highlights include subscription concerts with the Czech Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, a return visit to the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino and James Conlon, his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek, his Berlin debut with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Thomas Sanderling, his Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård, his Tokyo debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša and debuts with the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and Gerard Korsten, the Sønderjylland Symphony Orchestra and Johannes Wildner and the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and Adrien Perruchon (recorded by Mezzo Live HD TV), as well as recital debuts in among others Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego.
In addition to the above-mentioned orchestras, Josef Špaček has appeared across Europe, the US and Asia with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Essener Philharmoniker, Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich, Orchestre National de Belgique, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
The late Jiří Bělohlávek was an avid supporter of Josef Špaček and regularly invited him. Other conductors he works with include Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach, Asher Fisch, Valery Gergiev, Roy Goodman, Jakub Hrůša, Manfred Honeck, Eliahu Inbal, Jun Märkl, Rossen Milanov, Tomáš Netopil, Thomas Sanderling and Thomas Søndergård.
Josef Špaček gives recitals and takes part in chamber music festivals in Europe (among others at the Rudolfinum in Prague, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Evian Festival, Kaposfest and Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (i.a., Kennedy Center, La Jolla, ChamberFest Cleveland and Nevada Chamber Music Festival).
Supraphon released a highly praised recording of the violin concertos by Dvořák and Janáček, and of the Fantasy by Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek (“Recording of the Week” of The Sunday Times, “Recording of the Month and of the Year” of MusicWeb International and 5* in Diapason), as well as a recital CD with works for violin and piano by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev with pianist Miroslav Sekera. In 2010 he recorded works by H. W. Ernst for Naxos. His first CD, released in 2006, includes a complete recording of the Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.
He has served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history. The orchestra has named him “Associate Artist” as of January 2016.
Josef Špaček performs on the ca. 1732 “LeBrun; Bouthillard” Guarneri del Gesù violin, generously on loan from Ingles & Hayday.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, “the Turkish” K.219,written in 1775, is a crown jewel in his concert works and among the most sought-after compositions for the instrument today.
The first movement opens with an orchestral introduction with the tempo indication Allegro aperto. The solo violin then enters in an unusually short but distinctive Adagio, markedly transforming the music’s character. Then comes the energetic first subject in tutti, which is followed by a more modest and grotesque second subject. In the development Mozart sparkles with rich invention.
The second movement, Adagio, brings a rest after the glittering mood of the first. It is as if composed by someone else; employing a lyrical, quiet, even contemplative theme, heard in solo passages of unusual beauty.
The third movement, Rondo, is based on a Minuet theme. In the middle section, however, the metre changes from 3/4 (Minuet) to 2/4 (March), which is why the concerto is sometimes called “the Turkish”. The same principle is used, among other works, in Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A major, the third movement of which is known as “the Turkish March”.
György (Sándor) Ligeti (1923–2006) was born in Transylvania, but the family fairly soon moved to Kolozsvár, where Ligeti began his musical education. When the Hungarian uprising of 1956 was bloodily supressed, the composer emigrated, never to return permanently to Hungary. György Ligeti’s work is primarily linked with the rise and establishment of New Music, however towards the end of the 1970s more traditional elements appeared in his oeuvre as well as influences from his homeland’s folk culture.
At that time the composer also returned to his early works dating from before his emigration, such as Concert Românesc (Romanian Concerto), which was premiered in 1971 but composed back in 1951 under the influences of Ligeti’s own studies of Romanian folk music, on which he particularly focussed during his 1949 stay in Bucharest. After the first rehearsal in Budapest, the work was described as politically incorrect. The concerto is made up of four short movements following one another without pause. Ligeti wrote in 2000 that this is the piece which reflects most strongly his deep love for Romanian folk music and culture in general.
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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