Photo illustrating page  Czech Philharmonic Opening Concert of 122nd season

Opening Concert of 122nd season

Czech Philharmonic

Czech Philharmonic
Subscription series LS
Duration of the programme 2 hod 15 min
Programme

Dmitri Shostakovich
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 4 in G Major

Performers

Leonidas Kavakos
violin

Marta Reichelová
soprano

Jakub Hrůša
conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Opening Concert of 122nd season
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
19 Oct 2017  Thursday — 7.30pm
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20 Oct 2017  Friday — 7.30pm
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Performers

Leonidas Kavakos  violin
Leonidas Kavakos

LEONIDAS KAVAKOS
violin, conductor

Leonidas Kavakos is recognised across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, acclaimed for his matchless technique, his captivating artistry and his superb musicianship as well as for the integrity of his playing. He works with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and plays as recitalist in the world’s premier recital halls and festivals. He is an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classical.

The three important mentors in his life have been Stelios Kafantaris, Josef Gingold, and Ferenc Rados, with whom he still works. By the age of 21, Leonidas Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg competitions in 1988. This success led to him recording the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903/4), the first recording of this work in history, which won Gramophone Concerto of the Year Award in 1991.

Kavakos is now an exclusive recording artist with Sony Classics. His latest recording, to be released worldwide in October 2019 in anticipation of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, is the Beethoven Violin Concerto which he conducted and played with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, coupled with the Beethoven Septet played with members of the orchestra. In the anniversary year, Kavakos will both play and play/conduct the Beethoven concerto with orchestras across Europe and the USA. He will also play the complete cycle of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas in Shanghai and Guangzhou, Milan and Rome, and a number of single Beethoven recitals in various cities including London’s Wigmore Hall, Barcelona, Parma and Copenhagen.

In 2007, for his recording of the complete Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas with Enrico Pace, Kavakos was named Echo Klassik Instrumentalist of the year. In 2014, Kavakos was awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year.

Further accolades came in 2017 when Kavakos was awarded the prestigious Leonie Sonning Prize – Denmark’s highest musical honour, given annually to an internationally recognised composer, conductor, instrumentalist or singer. Previous winners include Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Alfred Brendel, Benjamin Britten, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, Arthur Rubinstein and Dmitri Shostakovich.

August 2019 was a full and rewarding month: after the Verbier Festival where he appeared in recital with Evgeny Kissin and conducted the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra in a programme in which he played Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Antoine Tamestit, he joined YoYo Ma and Emanuel Ax at the Tanglewood Music Festival for a programme of Beethovenʼs Piano Trios, in a duo recital with Ax of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas, and in an orchestral concert with the Boston Symphony in which he played and conducted Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.

Kavakos was also invited as “Artiste Etoile” at the Lucerne Festival where he appeared with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev, Vienna Philharmonic with Andrés Orozco-Estrada, and in recital with Yuja Wang.

In the 2019/20 season, in addition to concerts with major orchestras in Europe and the United States, Leonidas Kavakos will once again join YoYo Ma and Emanuel Ax for three programmes in Carnegie Hall comprising Beethoven’s trios and sonatas. He will undertake two Asian tours, first as soloist with the Singapore Symphony and Seoul Philharmonic and in recital in the NCPA Beijing, and then in the spring he will perform with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra, prior to playing the cycle of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas in Shanghai and Guangzhou with Enrico Pace.

In recent year, Leonidas Kavakos has succeeded in building a strong profile as a conductor and has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Gürzenich Orchester, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. In the forthcoming season he will return to two orchestras where he has developed close ties as both violinist and condcutor: L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. This season he also play/conducts the Czech Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI.

Born and brought up in a musical family in Athens, Kavakos curates an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in Athens, which attracts violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflects his deep commitment to the handing on of musical knowledge and traditions. Part of this tradition is the art of violin and bow-making, which Kavakos regards as a great mystery and to this day, an undisclosed secret. He plays the ‘Willemotte’ Stradivarius violin of 1734 and owns modern violins made by F. Leonhard, S. P. Greiner, E. Haahti and D. Bagué.

Jakub Hrůša  conductor
Jakub Hrůša

Born in the Czech Republic, Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic.

He is a frequent guest with many of the world’s greatest orchestras, and in the 2018/19 season made debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and NHK Symphony, to all of which he was immediately re-invited. In addition to his titled positions he also enjoys close relationships with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the New York Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Radio Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The 2019/20 season will see him return to the Berlin Philharmonic and make debuts with The Pittsburgh Symphony, Zurich Opera (a new production of the The Makropulos Case) and the Dutch National Opera (a new production for the Holland Festival of Rusalka with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra). In summer 2020, he will also return to The Glyndebourne Festival to conduct The Rake’s Progress.

His relationships with leading vocal and instrumental soloists have included collaborations in recent seasons with Behzod Abduraimov, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piotr Anderszewski, Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Rudolf Buchbinder, Renaud Capuçon, Isabelle Faust, Bernarda Fink, Martin Fröst, Julia Fischer, Vilde Frang, Sol Gabetta, Véronique Gens, Christian Gerhaher, Kirill Gerstein, Vadim Gluzman, Karen Gomyo, Augustin Hadelich, Hilary Hahn, Barbara Hannigan, Alina Ibragimova, Janine Jansen, Karita Mattila, Leonidas Kavakos, Sergey Khachatryan, Denis Kozhukhin, Lang Lang, Igor Levit, Jan Lisiecki, Albrecht Mayer, Johannes Moser, Viktoria Mullova, Anne Sofie Mutter, Kristine Opolais, Stephanie d’Oustrac, Emmanuel Pahud, Olga Peretyatko, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Josef Špaček, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Daniil Trifonov, Simon Trpčeski, Mitsuko Uchida, Klaus Florian Vogt, Yuja Wang, Frank Peter Zimmermann and Nikolaj Znaider.

As a conductor of opera, he has been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival, conducting Vanessa, The Cunning Little Vixen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Carmen, The Turn of the Screw, Don Giovanni and La bohème, and serving as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years. Elsewhere he has led productions for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Carmen), Vienna State Opera (a new production of The Makropulos Case), Opéra National de Paris (Rusalka and The Merry Widow), Frankfurt Opera (Il trittico) and Zurich Opera (Makropulos Case), among others.

As a recording artist, his most recent releases are the first two instalments of a new cycle of Dvořák and Brahms Symphonies, and Smetana’s Má vlast with Bamberg Symphony (Tudor). Other releases have included Concertos for Orchestra by Bartók and Kodály with RSB Berlin (Pentatone). He has also recorded Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie and Suk’s Asrael Symphony with Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (Octavia Records); the Tchaikovsky and Bruch violin concertos with Nicola Benedetti and the Czech Philharmonic (Universal); and nine discs (with Pentatone and Supraphon) of Czech repertoire with PKF-Prague Philharmonia, where he was Music Director from 2009 until 2015.

Jakub Hrůša studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where his teachers included Jiří Bělohlávek. He is currently President of the International Martinů Circle and The Dvořák Society, and in was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize.

Marta Reichelová  soprano

Marta Reichelová was born in Jeseník. She graduated from the Janáček Conservatory in Ostrava and the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, where she continues her post-gradual studies. While still a student, she guest performed at the Jiří Myron Theater in Ostrava (Emmerich Kalmán: The Countess Maritza – Lisa), the Silesian Theater in Opava (Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel– Hansel) and the Josef Kajetán Tyl Theater in Pilsen (Bohuslav Martinů: The Soldier and the Dancer – Fenicie the dancer).

In 2013 Marta Reichelová began to appear as a guest at the National Theater in Brno. She made her debut as Daphne, the leading role of the eponymous opera by contemporary composers Tomáš Hanzlík and Vít Zouhar, and the First Nymph in Rusalka by Antonín Dvořák. In the same year she was engaged as a regular solo singer of the opera ensemble of the National Theater in Brno. Her repertory includes the Cunning Little Vixen (Leoš Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen), the Maid (Thomas Adés: Powder Her Face), Zerlina (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni), Penelopka (Marko Ivanović: Enchantia), Barče (Bedřich Smetana: The Kiss) and Esmeralda (Bedřich Smetana: The Bartered Bride).

In autumn 2015 she made her debut at the National Theater in Prague as the Cook (Igor Stravinsky: The Nightingale) and Brigitta (Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Iolanta). It was followed by her debut at the Antonín Dvořák Theater Theater in Ostrava in the role of Ophelia (Ambroise Thomas: Hamlet). She attracted attention with her interpretation of Jano in a concert performance of Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek in the Rudolfinum (Prague) and at the South Bank Center (London), broadcast live on BBC.

Marta Reichelová is a prize-winner of the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary and the Jakub Pustina International Singing Competition and a semi-finalist of the Hans Gabor Belveder Competition.

She has collaborated with conductors such as Latham König, Rastislav Štúr, Jaroslav Kyzlink, Jakub Klecker, Tomáš Brauner, David Švec and Marko Ivanović and orchestras such as the Czech Philharmonic, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra of Ostrava.

Compositions

Gustav Mahler — Symfonie č. 4 G dur

At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from the summer of 1899 until April 1901, Mahler composed his Symphony No. 4, the most classical of his monumental symphonies. The composition has roots that reach back even further in time, however. During the frigid February of 1892, Mahler composed the song Der Himmel hängt voll Geigen for voice and piano to a text from the poetry collection The Youth’s Magic Horn, which contains more than seven hundred texts of old German folksongs and popular songs. The collection had been published nearly a century earlier in 1806–1808 by the young poets Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano. Mahler discovered it by chance in 1887 while visiting the grandson of the composer Carl Maria von Weber, and he drew on it for subject matter for his compositions for another fourteen years. A month after composing the song, in March 1892 Mahler finished orchestrating it with the characteristic use of harp and sleigh bells, and he gave it his own title, Das himmlishe Leben (Heavenly Life). He took a special liking for the song, and he often included it on concert programmes of his music. It was originally to have been the conclusion of this Third Symphony, but ultimately that colossal work would have “just” six movements, and Heavenly Life instead became the finale, intellectual focus, and climax of the Fourth Symphony.

It might seem that the Fourth Symphony is just a continuation and completion of the Third, but already in the first movement we hear unmistakeable fanfares that foreshadow Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, which was yet to come. In Mahler’s music, everything is closely tied together.The second movement, although dancelike, makes an oppressive impression – it is, after all, also a dance of death played on the fiddle by the skeleton Freund Hein! The solo violin is to be tuned a step higher to give it a harsher, shriller tone, making the soloist sound like a street musician instead of a concertmaster of a symphony orchestra. Mahler is said to have taken inspiration from Arnold Böcklin’s 1872 painting titled Self-Portrait with Death Playing the Fiddle. (In 1894, the same painting also inspired Jaroslav Vrchlický’s poem, in which a painter is creating a self-portrait but constantly feels something disturbing behind his back. When he turns around, he sees Death with a fiddle.)The third movement is the longest. It is a magnificent series of variations inspired by the vision of a tombstone on which there is a carved image of the departed in eternal sleep. The music leads us to a vision of heaven’s gates.

Beyond the gates we are welcomed by a “child’s” voice – a soprano – in heaven, where peace reigns supreme, where there is no bustle of the secular world, where everyone can rejoice and dance. And with this image of childlike naivety, Mahler completes his journey from the complex to the simple, from experience to innocence, and from earthly life to heavenly bliss.

In the twenty-first century, Mahler’s music and its message are still attractive to listeners. The form, content, and intellectual and emotional power of the music make it surprisingly relevant to our post-modern epoch.

Dmitri Shostakovich — Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 77

Dmitrij Šostakovič měl v řadách soudobých sovětských interpretů mnoho přátel, se kterými také těsně spolupracoval při uvádění svých děl. Patřil k nim např. dirigent Kirill Kondrašin, jenž premiéroval slavnou Čtvrtou symfonii c moll, violoncellista Mstislav Rostropovič pro nějž Šostakovič napsal dvojici koncertů pro violoncello a orchestr nebo houslista David Oistrach, jemuž jsou věnovány oba houslové koncerty. Koncert pro housle a orchestr č. 1 a moll op. 77 komponoval Šostakovič v letech 1947–1948. Do tvorby tohoto díla tak zasáhly nechvalně známé okolnosti prvního čtvrtletí roku 1948, kdy byl spolu s dalšími předními sovětskými skladateli z nejvyšších stranických míst tvrdě, avšak nespravedlivě kritizován a obviňován z modernismu a formalismu.

Dmitriji Šostakovičovi se však do značné míry podařilo situaci (vyvolanou Josifem Stalinem a jeho pravou rukou v kulturních záležitostech Andrejem Ždanovem) ustát a udržet si pozici „hlavního vývozního artiklu sovětské hudby“ do světa, a to včetně kapitalistického Západu. Proces očišťování byl však neobyčejně náročný a způsobil, že se První houslový koncert dočkal premiéry až po Stalinově smrti, sedm let od svého vzniku – 29. října 1955 s Davidem Oistrachem a Leningradskou filharmonií pod taktovkou Jevgenije Mravinského.

Sám skladatel o tomto díle napsal, že je to „svým charakterem v podstatě spíš symfonie pro sólové housle s orchestrem“. Virtuóz Oistrach se o skladbě vyslovil následovně: „Koncert je mimořádně zajímavým úkolem pro interpreta. Je to, chcete-li, velká, obsažná shakespearovská role, která vyžaduje od umělce velké emocionální a intelektuální vypětí a která skýtá obrovské možnosti nejen k demonstrování houslistovy virtuozity, ale především k vyjádření nejhlubších citů, myšlenek a nálad.“ A skutečně; jde o interpretačně mimořádně obtížné dílo, které je zároveň prosto obsahově prázdných virtuózních efektů. Jeho čtyři věty jsou kromě tempového označení pojmenovány také z hlediska své formy.

První částí je pomalé Nokturno. Po ponurém úvodu přednesou sólové housle hlavní téma celé věty, která je zkomponovaná v sonátové formě. V dalším průběhu úvodní části se pak sólový nástroj polyfonním způsobem proplétá s orchestrem. Následující Scherzo se vyznačuje pulzujícím rytmem. Dmitrij Šostakovič zde vůbec poprvé použil motiv d-es-c-h, které v několika pozdějších skladbách uplatnil jako svou značku (názvy tónů motivu jsou začátečními písmeny skladatelova jména a příjmení v německé transkripci – DSCH). V naší skladbě tato čtyřtónová hudební myšlenka zazní sice opakovaně, ale spíše nenápadně, navíc pouze v orchestrálním doprovodu.

Ústřední téma třetí věty pojmenované jako Passacaglia přednesou hned na jejím začátku violoncella s kontrabasy. Následný teskný zpěv houslí je náročný především na zachování předepsaných výrazových nuancí. Konec této části je tvořen rozsáhlou kadencí, v níž sólový nástroj mění náladu od melancholického pláče k neklidnému rozhořčení. Kadence ústí attaca do závěrečné věty, označené přiléhavě jako Burleska. Autor se zde inspiroval skotačivou rytmikou i melodikou lidových písní tzv. skomorochů, tj. dávných ruských potulných pěvců, herců a tanečníků.