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Othello, concert overture, Op. 93
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major KV 219
Symphony No. 4 H 305
Nikolaj Znaider performs at the highest level as both conductor and virtuoso violin soloist with the world’s most-distinguished orchestras. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Mariinsky Orchestra Saint Petersburg since 2010, and was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
Following a triumphant return to the BBC Proms with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Christian Thielemann, 2016/2017 season sees Znaider embark on a new project, recording all of the Mozart violin concertos, directed from the violin with the London Symphony. He has a particularly strong relationship with the LSO; an orchestra he conducts and performs as soloist with every season.
Both as conductor and as soloist, Znaider is interested in deepening his connections with key orchestras where he feels a special bond, working regularly with orchestras such as the Staatskapelle Dresden, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw, Detroit Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Munich Philharmonic orchestras.
Znaider’s extensive discography includes the Nielsen Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, Elgar Concerto in B minor with the late Sir Colin Davis and the Staatskapelle Dresden, award-winning recordings of the Brahms and Korngold concertos with Valery Gergiev and the Vienna Philharmonic, the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, the Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 and Glazunov Concerto with Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and the Mendelssohn Concerto on DVD with Riccardo Chailly and the Gewanghaus Orchestra. Znaider has also recorded the complete works of Brahms for violin and piano with Yefim Bronfman.
He is passionate about supporting the next generation of musical talent and spent ten years as Founder and Artistic Director of the annual Nordic Music Academy summer school.
Nikolaj Znaider plays the “Kreisler” Guarnerius “del Gesu” 1741 on extended loan to him by The Royal Danish Theater through the generosity of the VELUX Foundation and the Knud Højgaard Foundation.
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.
According to the magazine Dalibor of 14 November 1891 Dvořák dedicated the concert overture Othello Op. 93 to Hans von Bülow. By representing the destructive passion of jealousy, it has the most dramatic, the most extensive and the most concrete program of the trilogy based on the pentatonic motifs. Dvořák began it in November 1891, but he had to interrupt the work because he went to England to attend the premiere of his Requiem in Birmingham on 9 October 1891. However, on 18 January 1892 the score was already finished. Othello is still in the classical sonata form, although in a rather loose concept, and unlike the two earlier overtures, full of expressive impulses, it is strongly dramatized.
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”.
Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959) avoided composing symphonies for a long time. In the musical environment of the 1920s and 1930s in Paris, in which he was firmly established in his youth, the symphony was considered a form of Romantic relic and local composers tried to write for less common instrumental ensembles. Martinů composed his first symphony as late as at the age of fifty-two in America; from that time on he returned to this form almost every year. Of the total number of his six symphonies, the most popular and most frequently performed is Symphony No. 4. Martinů created it in the spring of 1945, full of joy and optimism about the end of war hardships and in the hope that he would soon return to his homeland. He was convinced that this was his last major composition in the American exile before his imminent homecoming to Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, the subsequent events showed that these expectations were in vain.
The joyful first movement Poco moderato is reminiscent of a Baroque suite by being structured into two sections. However, the work with motifs and harmonic processes are far from Baroque music and stands with both feet in the realm of contemporary music. The second movement has the form of a fierce dance scherzo with the contrasting lyrical middle section. It is followed by the dreamy, heartfelt Largo of the third movement. The optimistic tone of the whole symphony is accentuated by the final Poco allegro.
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