Petr Altrichter • Czech Philharmonic


Just two years earlier, Joseph Szigeti played Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto in Prague after its rather lukewarm reception at the premiere in Paris. The jaded French public wanted to be shocked in those days, and Prokofiev’s concerto seemed too romantic to them. Today, this concerto and the Glagolitic Mass are regarded as gems of twentieth-centu

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Programme

Leoš Janáček
The Fiddler’s Child, a ballad for orchestra based on the poem by Svatopluk Čech

Sergei Prokofiev
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19 

Leoš Janáček
Glagolitic Mass, a cantata for solo voices, mixed choir, orchestra, and organ

Performers

Jan Mráček
violin

Jana Šrejma Kačírková
soprano

Lucie Hilscherová
alto

Aleš Briscein
tenor

Jan Martiník
bass

Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno

Petr Fiala
choirmaster

Petr Altrichter
conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Petr Altrichter Czech Philharmonic

Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall


Performers

Jana Šrejma Kačírková  soprano

Jana Šrejma Kačírková graduated from the Prague Conservatory in 2006. During her studies she won a number of awards at the International Antonín Dvořák Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary. In 2006 she became a guest of the National Moravia-Silesian Theater in Ostrava and since 2010 she has been a permanent member of the opera ensemble. Since 2016 she has become a permanent member of the National Theatre Brno. She is a permanent guest of the South Bohemian Theater in České Budějovice. She made her guest appearance in František Xaver Šalda Theatre in Liberec, Josef Kajetán Tyl Theatre in Pilsen and the National Theater in Prague. In 2015 she made her debut at the stage of the Slovak National Theatre and at the Revolving theatre in Český Krumlov.

Jana Šrejma Kačírková has made her appearance at prestigious international festivals. She has been singing under the baton of many famous conductors such as Tomáš Brauner, Oliver Dohnanyi, Jakub Klecker, Tomáš Netopil, Mario De Rose, Alfonso Scarano and many others.

She has been twice awarded by the Thálie award – in 2012 and in 2013. She has won three South Bohemian Thálie awards as well as the honorary “Libuška” prize at the Opera 2013 Festival. In 2013 she was appreciated by Annual award of the Opera Plus magazine.

Petr Altrichter  conductor
Petr Altrichter

Petr Altrichter is one of the most distinguished Czech conductors, and he has earned an illustrious reputation for the dynamism and depth of his interpretations of symphonic music. He was raised in a musical family and played musical instruments from a young age. Having graduated from the Conservatory in Ostrava as a French horn player and conductor, he continued his studies at the Janáček Academy of the Performing Arts in Brno in orchestral conducting under Otakar Trhlík and František Jílek and choral conducting with Josef Veselka and Lubomír Mátl. After completing his studies in Brno, he worked as a choirmaster and conductor with the Brno Academic Choir, and contributed to the winning of many prizes at foreign choral competitions and festivals (Middlesbrough, Debrecen…).

Altrichter attracted international attention in 1976, when he won second prize and a special prize of the jury at the renowned International Conducting Competition in Besançon, France. Based on this achievement he began to work with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as an assistant of Václav Neumann, which started his artistic career. Not long after that, he began to receive invitations to conduct orchestras abroad. After working with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, in 1988 he became the principal guest conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and in 1991 he was appointed its chief conductor. With that orchestra, he made frequent foreign tours to Japan, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and other countries. At the same time he also closely collaborated with the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, with which he often gave performances abroad introducing many gifted young soloists (such as Isabelle van Keulen and Radek Baborák).

From 1993 to 2004 he also worked as the Music Director of the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Constance, Germany, with which he gave concerts regularly at the Tonhalle in Zurich and at the KKL in Lucerne, and also toured Switzerland and Italy. Having made his U.K. debut with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in 1990, Petr Altrichter made his London debut with the English Chamber Orchestra 1993. He then conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994 to a great critical acclaim. He was subsequently appointed its Principal Conductor, a post he held from 1997 until 2001. With this orchestra he appeared at the 2000 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and made several highly-praised recordings on the orchestra’s own label, RLPO live.

In 2001 Altrichter was invited to become the Chief Conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and he remained there for seven years, returning to the orchestra with which he had been associated since his student days and which he continues to guest conduct up to this day. He is also a regular guest of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he has maintained a steady artistic relationship since his beginnings there as an assistant conductor, and of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he recorded an award-winning CD with Antonín Dvořák’s music. Since the 2018/2019 season, he has been a permanent guest conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he has been working for many years.

In 2015 he toured Germany with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and in late 2015 and early 2016, he toured China with the same orchestra. At the beginning of the 2017/2018 season, he conducted the Czech Philharmonic at the Dvořák Prague International Festival and later toured very successfully in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan with the same orchestra. In the spring of 2017 he toured Japan with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. In 2018 he toured the United Kingdom with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. In May 2019 he will be touring with the Czech Philharmonic in China.

Altrichter has appeared as a guest conductor with many leading international orchestras, including Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. In the United Kingdom he has collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestras he has guest conducted also include the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in Riga, the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen and the Odense Symphony Orchestra.

He is a frequent guest at festivals such as Prague Spring, Janáček May in Ostrava, Smetana’s Litomyšl, Moravian Autumn in Brno, and the Bratislava Music Festival. He has made guest appearances at major festivals in Salzburg, Edinburgh, Avignon, Athens, Cheltenham, Paris, Madrid, Chicago, Zurich, Lucerne, Seville, Palermo, and elsewhere.

The bulk of Petr Altrichter’s repertoire consists of Czech music (Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Bohuslav Martinů), Russian music (especially Dmitri Shostakovich), and the works of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Outstanding soloists and performers from around the world (Garrick Ohlsson, John Lill, Tabea Zimmermann and others) value his flexibility in leading orchestral accompaniments, and they seek out collaboration with him.

Jan Martiník  bass
Jan Martiník

Young czech Bass Jan Martiník was born in 1983 in Ostrava where he studied on Janáček Conservatory and on the University of Ostrava with Eliška Pappová. 2003 he won the International Singing Competition Antonín Dvořák in Karlovy Vary in the category Junior and was also rewarded with the second prize in the category "Lied". Jan Martiník is laureate of the International Competition Jelena Obraztsova, where he won the special prize for the best Tchajkovsky romance. 2007 he was finalist in Placido Domingo´s Competition "Operalia" and in 2009 in Cardiff Singer of the World, where he won the category "Song".

While studying at the university he appeared in roles at the NDM Ostrava, including Pistola (Falstaff), Leporello (Don Giovanni) and Truffaldino (Ariadne auf Naxos). At the National Theatre Prague he sung roles including Masetto (Don Giovanni), Larkens and José Castro (La fanciulla del West), Leporello (Don Giovanni) in the new production in Estates theatre.

From 2008 to 2011 Jan Martiník was a member of Komische Oper Berlin, where he sung roles including Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Colline (La bohème), Surin (Pique Dame) and Nachtwächter (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). In Volksoper Vienna he sung Betto (Gianni Schicchi), 1.Nazarener (Salome) as well as Zuniga in Carmen. Since 2012/13 Jan Martiník is a member of Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin, where he performes roles including Colline (La Bohéme), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Eremit (Der Freischütz), as well as Father Trulove (The Rake´s Progress).

In concerts the young Bass was working with well known orchestras such as Czech Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Brimingham Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, as well as the King´s Consort and the Collegium 1704. Amongst other pieces of the concert repertoire he has performed Jesus in St. Matthews Passion, as well as the Aria Part, the Bass Parts in Mozart, Dvořák and Verdiʼs Requiem, Dvořák Te Deum, Beethovens 9. Symphony and Haydns Schöpfung. Jan Martiník is already known for his sincere interpretations of Schubertʼs Winterreise and Dvořák Biblical Songs

The beauty of his voice matches with a splendid technique and a comical talent, which makes him one of the leading singers of the young generation.

The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno  choir
The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno

The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno stands at the pinnacle of the field of choral music at home and in a worldwide context. Conductors, orchestras, and soloists who have worked with the choir speak of it in superlatives. Above all, music critics acclaim its compact sound and broad range of expression. The choir appears at most of Europe’s prestigious festivals and at important concerts. Because of its excellence, each year it gives more than 90 concerts at home and abroad. It collaborates with the world’s top orchestras and conductors. It has an extensive discography and has earned a number of important awards: a 2007 Echo Klassik Award from Germany as ensemble of the year, a 2011 Tokusen Award from Japan for a recording of Dvořák’s Requiem, and a 2019 Classic Prague Award in the Vocal Performance category for its interpretation of Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. The man behind the choir’s successes is its founder, choirmaster, and director Petr Fiala. The assistant choirmaster is Michael Dvořák.

Lucie Hilscherová  mezzo-soprano
Lucie Hilscherová

The Czech mezzo-soprano Lucie Hilscherová makes guest appearances at the National Theatre in Prague, the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, the Silesian Theatre in Opava, the State Theatre in Košice, and the Mannheim National Theatre. She has also appeared as Háta in The Bartered Bride in Tokyo (2010, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Suntory Hall, conductor Leoš Svárovský) and London (2011, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall, conductor Jiří Bělohlávek).

She is in demand for concert performances of the lieder and oratorio repertoire, and she also enjoys interpreting the works of contemporary composers. She has collaborated with important orchestras and conductors, appearing at such festivals as Musikfest Stuttgart, Beethovenfest Bonn, Grafenegg Musik-Sommer, Prague Spring, the Easter Festival of Sacred Music in Brno, Smetana’s Litomyšl, the St. Wenceslas Music Festival, and the Peter Dvorský International Music Festival in Jaroměřice.

Jan Mráček  violin
Jan Mráček

The Czech violinist Jan Mráček was born in 1991 in Pilsen and began studying violin at the age of five with Magdaléna Micková. From 2003 he studied with Jiří Fišer, graduating with honors from the Prague Conservatory in 2013, and until recently at the University of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna under the guidance of the Vienna Symphony concertmaster Jan Pospíchal.

As a teenager he enjoyed his first major successes, winning numerous competitions, participating in the master classes of Maestro Václav Hudeček – the beginning of a long and fruitful association. He won the Czech National Conservatory Competition in 2008, the Hradec International Competition with the Dvořák concerto and the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009, was the youngest Laureate of the Prague Spring International Festival competition in 2010, and in 2011 he became the youngest soloist in the history of the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 2014 he was awarded first prize at Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition at the Vienna Konzerthaus. When the victory of Jan Mráček was confirmed, there was thunderous applause from the audience and the jury. The jury president announced, “Jan is a worthy winner. He has fascinated us from the first round. Not only with his technical skills, but also with his charisma on stage.”

Jan Mráček has performed as a soloist with world’s orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, St Louis Symphony, Symphony of Florida, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Romanian Radio Symphony, Lappeenranta City Orchestra (Finland) as well as the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK), Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava and almost all Czech regional orchestras.

Jan Mráček had the honor of being invited by Maestro Jiří Bělohlávek to guest lead the Czech Philharmonic in their three concert residency at Vienna’s Musikverein, and the European Youth Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda and Xian Zhang on their 2015 summer tour. He has been a concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic since 2018.

In 2008 he joined the Lobkowicz Piano Trio, which was awarded first prize and the audience prize at the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Pörtschach, Austria in 2014. His recording of the Dvořák violin concerto and other works by this Czech composer under James Judd with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra was recently released on the Onyx label and has received excellent reviews.

Jan Mráček plays on a Carlo Fernando Landolfi violin, Milan 1758, generously loaned to him by Mr Peter Biddulph.

In 2021 he received Jiří Bělohlávek Award from the Czech Philharmonic.

Petr Fiala  choirmaster
Petr Fiala

Choirmaster Petr Fiala graduated from the Brno Conservatoire (piano, composition, conducting) and the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in the studio of Jan Kapr. Besides teaching (he has been a professor at the Brno Conservatoire) and composing (he has written about 180 compositions), he has been devoting himself intensively to the work of a choirmaster and conductor for over 50 years. Petr Fiala is a laureate of many national and international competitions. He receives invitations to guest conduct Czech and foreign orchestras and choirs. In 1990 he founded the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno, and under his leadership it has earned itself a place among Europe’s best choral ensembles. In 2009 the Czech Episcopal Conference honoured Fiala with the Order of Sts. Cyril and Methodius for outstanding achievements as a conductor and composer. In 2013 he received the Brno City Prize in the field of music for his many years of artistic activity and for representing the city of Brno, and in 2016 he won the South Bohemia Region Prize for significant representation of the South Bohemia Region in the area of culture.

Aleš Briscein  tenor
Aleš Briscein

Aleš Briscein studied clarinet, saxophone and opera singing at the Prague Conservatory. He has participated in prestigious festivals (Edinburgh International Festival or Prague Spring) and collaborated with outstanding orchestras and conductors, including Christoph von Dohnányi, Valery Gergiev, Sir John Eliot Gardiner or Tomáš Netopil.

Recent highlights include Der fliegende Holländer in Prague, War and Peace in Geneva, Makropulos Affair at Salzburg Festival, Dalibor and Die Königskinder in Frankfurt, Die tote Stadt in Berlin and Dresden, From the House of the Dead in Munich, Wozzeck in Vienna, Jenůfa in Bologna, Così fan tutte and Mazeppa in Berlin, Lohengrin in Erl and Two Widows in Angers and Nantes. His concert repertoire includes, among others, Mahler’s 8th symphony, Beethoven's 9th symphony and Missa solemnis, Dvořák’s Stabat mater, as well as Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, or Stravinsky’s Les Noces.

Compositions

Leoš Janáček
Šumařovo dítě, balada pro orchestr podle básně Svatopluka Čecha

Ve výčtu nemnoha symfonických děl Leoše Janáčka najdeme také tři symfonické básně: Šumařovo dítě, Taras Bulba a Balada blanická. První z nich má podtitul „orchestrální balada“ a vznikla v roce 1913 podle stejnojmenné básně Svatopluka Čecha. Janáčka zaujal sociální námět předlohy a skladbu postavil na hudebním vyjádření dvou výrazových poloh – bolesti a vykoupení. Děj je jednoduchý: po zemřelém obecním muzikantovi (šumaři) zůstane malé dítě. Místní rychtář není ochoten vyřešit, kdo se bude o opuštěné dítě starat. Jedné noci přijde duch šumaře a dítě si odnese, aby ho ušetřil stejného utrpení, které zakusil na zemi jeho otec.

Leoš Janáček
Glagolitic Mass, a cantata for soloists, choir, orchestra and organ

Among great creative figures, Leoš Janáček is remarkable in that the older he got, the more “youthful”, original, and modern the music that he wrote became. This was perhaps because he had lost everything. Released by the cruelty of fate from his ties and concerns for his parents and his children, he was truly able to find himself. He cast aside conventions and tried to get to the heart of things.

Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass is one of the most powerful sacred compositions in music history. The 72-year-old composer wrote the music to the text in Old Church Slavonic in 1926 at his favourite spa, Luhačovice. “The rain in Luhačovice is pouring, just pouring. I look out of the window at the gloomy mountain Komoň. The clouds come rolling in, and the wind tears and scatters them. […] The darkness becomes denser and denser. Now I look out into the black of night; lightning slashes into the darkness.” That is how Janáček described the atmosphere that August, when he began writing his Glagolitic Mass. The decision was made quickly. Although he had taken an interest in the Old Church Slavonic text of the Mass a few years beforehand and had made a few sketches, the music that he ultimately began writing in Luhačovice had nothing in common with those sketches. For Janáček, starting the new work was quite emotional. His ideas had to mature, but once creative fervour had taken hold, he composed quickly. He sketched out the entire Mass in just three weeks! By October 1926, he had finished it. He made more quite substantial changes after the premiere, which took place on 5 December 1927 in Brno. Janáček was able to make cuts. He is never verbose; he is precise.

For example, in the movement “Věruju” (Credo) he shortened the orchestral interlude that contained a very powerful passage inducing the atmosphere before the choir begins singing about Christ’s crucifixion. Janáček originally scored this harsh passage for three (!) sets of tympani, and he combined them with expressive music for brass and organ. In a letter to Kamila Stösslová he wrote: “…so I’m doing a bit of a depiction of the legend that when Christ was stretched out on the cross, the heavens were torn. So I wrote rumbling and lightning…” His wife Zdena supposedly told him: “Leoš, that’s impossible; you’re cursing at the Lord God there.” And a while later Janáček said: “So I’ve gotten rid of the tympani there…”

Although the Glagolitic Mass is a musical setting of a liturgical text, the work is not confessional in character. To Ludvík Kundera’s review, in which he called the composer an “old man” and a “firm believer”, Janáček’s reply was “No old man, no believer, you youngster”. This is often quoted, but we must take it with a grain of salt. Janáček was unquestionably a spiritual person. He was raised in the environment of the church at the Benedictine Monastery in Old Brno. However, he was not a practicing Catholic. We know only that he brought his children up in faith and prayer. He apparently felt distanced from the Catholic Church, so he was attracted to the idea of writing a Mass, but to the Old Church Slavonic text.

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