Change of conductor and programme: Due to health issues, Robin Ticciati will be replaced by conductor Vassily Sinaisky. Overture to Fauré's Pénélope will be replaced by the overture to Hector Berlioz's Le Corsaire.
Pénélope, overture to the opera
Le Corsaire, overture to the opera
Four Fragments from Psyché for orchestra and women’s choir
Daphnis et Chloé, suite from the ballet No. 2
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Jaroslav Brych first completed studies in the French horn performance at the Pardubice Conservatory in Otakar Tvrdýʼs class and then conducting in the Prague Academy of Performing Arts at Václav Neumann, Josef Veselka and Radomil Eliška. He repeatedly participated in Helmuth Rillingʼs courses of conducting in Stuttgart.
In the years of 1984 to 1997, he was the choirmaster of the Charles University Choir, from 1987 to 1994, he worked as a conductor and principal conductor of the Czech Army Symphonic Orchestra, in the years of 1992 to 1993, he was the conductor of the Opera Mozart Prague, since 1994 he had been Pavel Kühnʼs second choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, in the years of 1996–2005 itʼs principal choirmaster. In the years of 2006–2012, he was the choirmaster of the Prague Chamber Choir. Nowadays, he is the choirmaster of the Foerster Chamber Choir, he occasionally cooperates with the Prague Philharmonic Choir, Kühn Choir of Prague, Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and other Czech orchestras. Apart from conductor and choirmaster activities, he teaches at the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague and at the Pardubice Conservatory.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC) is a leading European vocal ensemble, and as one of the Czech Republic´s foremost artistic institutions operates under the trusteeship of the Czech Ministry of Culture. In the course of the choir´s long history since its foundation in 1935, it has been directed by a succession of some of the most distinguished Czech choirmasters (including among others Jan Kühn, Josef Veselka and Pavel Kühn). Since 2007 its principal choirmaster has been Lukáš Vasilek.
The PPC´s repertoire is centered primarily around oratorio and cantata works. In their presentation, the choir has worked with eminent international orchestras (e.g. the Czech Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Israel Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker, among others), and conductors (including Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Netopil, Gianandrea Noseda, Philippe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta or Sir Simon Rattle). Beyond its standard choral repertoire, the PPC is likewise active in the domain of opera, working regularly with the National Theatre in Prague, and since 2010 holding the status of choir in residence at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Apart from these commitments, the PPC engages in a number of its own projects. Since 2011 it has organized its own choral concert series in Prague, with a programme focused notably on presentations of less well known choral works, either a cappella or with chamber-scale instrumental accompaniment. The PPC has taken some of these choral projects abroad (including among other occasions its tours in the USA and Mexico in 2014, and in Russia in 2018). The choir regards as an inseparable part of its activity educational endeavours targeting the young generations. In this context, it has been involved in organizing a Choral Academy for students of singing, a project aimed at enabling young artists to acquire practical skills through work with a professional vocal ensemble; and with focus on young children, running a series of educational concerts and a programme of on-the-spot singing workshops in schools.
The PPC has to its credit an extensive discography, with many titles released by major international labels (e.g., Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon). In recent years the choir has taken part in several unique recording projects, two of them in association with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The first of these, a recording of Antonín Dvořák´s Stabat Mater (Decca, 2017), with Jiří Bělohlávek conducting, received the prestigious Diapason d´or de l´année award for the year´s best album in the sacred music category. The second, a recording of Bohuslav Martinů´s The Epic of Gilgamesh (Supraphon, 2017), under the baton of Manfred Honeck, won several awards in the United Kingdom, plus another Diapason d´or. The album featuring Bohuslav Martinů´s Kytice (Supraphon, 2017), on which the PPC collaborated with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tomáš Netopil, was cited as recording of the month by the prestigious British web magazine MusicWeb International. Its recording of Bohuslav Martinů´s chamber cantatas (Supraphon, 2016) scored top rankings in the influential British magazines, Gramophone (Editor´s Choice) and BBC Music Magazine (Choral & Song Choice), in the latter along with nomination for its annual award in the choral music category.
The PPC´s many commitments in the 2018/2019 season include among others concert appearances at the Dvořák Prague, Beethovenfest Bonn and Prague Spring festivals, a tour in Belgium, a performance in New York´s Carnegie Hall (Mahler´s Symphony No. 2, with the Czech Philharmonic and its principal conductor, Semyon Bychkov; this will be followed up by the recording of the same symphony for Decca Classics), and further work with the Israel Philharmonic, this time under the baton of Manfred Honeck. The PPC´s 2018/2019 concert season will be rounded off by a concert at the Smetana Litomyšl Festival, where it will perform with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev Mussorgsky´s opera Boris Godunov; and finally, appearances, for the tenth time already, at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
“Her sound has passion, grit and electricity, but also a disarming warmth and sweetness that can unveil the music’s hidden strains of lyricism...”
- New York Times
Isabelle Faust captivates her listeners through her insightful and faithful interpretations, based on a thorough knowledge of the historical context of the works as well as her attention to current scholarship.
At an early age, Isabelle Faust won the prestigious Leopold Mozart and Paganini competitions and was soon invited to appear with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. 2016 marks her first year as “Artistic Partner” for the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
Isabelle Faust performs a wide-ranging repertoire, from Johann Sebastian Bach all the way through to contemporary composers such as Ligeti, Lachenmann and Widmann. To highlight this versatility, in addition to her mastery of the great symphonic violin concertos, Isabelle Faust also performs works such as Kurtágʼs Kafka Fragments with the soprano Anna Prohaska, or Schubert’s octet on historical instruments. She will premiere several new works for violin and orchestra during the next seasons, including concerti by the composers Ondřej Adámek, Marco Stroppa, Oscar Strasnoy and Beat Furrer.
Over the course of her career, Isabelle Faust has regularly performed or recorded with world-renowned conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, Philippe Herreweghe, Daniel Harding, Bernard Haitink and Andris Nelsons. During recent years Isabelle Faust developed a close relationship with the late Claudio Abbado and performed and recorded under his baton. Their recording of Beethovenʼs and Bergʼs violin concertos with the Orchestra Mozart received a “Diapason dʼOr” (France), “Echo Klassik” (Germany), “Gramophone Award 2012” (UK) as well as a “Record Academy Award” (Japan).
Faust has recorded many discs for Harmonia Mundi with her recital partner Alexander Melnikov. These include their latest album with Brahms’s sonatas for violin and piano, as well as Schumann’s piano trios. Both, her recording of Mozart’s violin concerti with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini, as well as Bach’s harpsichord sonatas with Kristian Bezuidenhout were released in 2016/2017.
Together with Anton Webern, the Austrian composer Alban Berg (1885–1935) is the most important disciple of Arnold Schoenberg, the founder of dodecaphony. However, he did not accept all the aesthetic principles of his teacher and he forged his own path in music.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra came into being late in Berg’s life, when due to the ban of his work in Nazi Germany he suffered mentally and physically. The impetus for writing this violin concerto was deep grief. The work is dedicated to “the memory of an angel” – the deceased eighteen-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler, a former muse of many Viennese artists. The song is a good example of the above-mentioned treatment of Schoenberg’s dodecaphony by Berg. Although the concerto has a well-defined series of twelve tones with which the composer works, in several places it indicates tonal centers, by which it breaches the strict dodecaphonic rules and approaches the major-minor system. It is interesting that the first movement contains a folk song from Carinthia and the final section of the two-movement composition features a quote and the subsequent development of themes from Bach’s chorale Es ist genug.
Gabriel Fauré was a prominent organist, composer and teacher. In 1905, he became Director of the Paris Conservatory. He was one of the most progressive French composers of his time. Fauré’s only opera Pénélope is, like Césare Franck’s Psyché, a celebration of love, in this case a faithful love. It is the story of Pénélope, Queen of Ithaca, who was waiting for twenty years for the return of her husband, King Ulysses. Fauré worked on the opera each summer between 1907 and 1912. The opera opens with an emotionally charged prelude based on two main motifs of the opera – a melancholy sequence of chords representing Pénélope and the majestic theme of Ulysses. For the concert performance of the opera, Fauré closed the prelude with a lyrical coda using the soft love theme from the end of the opera.
The Belgian composer César Franck had lived in Paris since 1843 and worked as an organist and music teacher. In both of these fields he achieved considerable respect, as evidenced by his appointment as a professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872. His symphonic poem Psyché (the most complete and by its form the most original of his five symphonic poems) is based on the Greek myth of the love between the nymph Psyché and Éros. This piece often appears in an abridged version consisting of four most important fragments. The first section presents Psychée’s sensual dream about Éros. In the second section, Psyche is tenderly woken up by zephyrs. The third fragment depicts the journey of Psyche through Éros’s garden, in which she gets close to her beloved. Here the ethereal singing of a choir is heard, celebrating the mighty power of love. The composition concludes with a conversation between lovers, which results in a brilliant apotheosis of their love.
At the same time when Fauré composed his Pénélope, another ancient love motif was being processed into the form of a musically-dramatic work by his most famous pupil, Maurice Ravel. Ravel wrote the ballet Daphnis et Chloé between 1909 and 1912 upon commission from Sergei Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes in Paris. Ravel set to music the love story of a goatherd and shepherdess who, with the help of gods, overcame all pitfalls. He worked on it very hard, re-writing it time and again. The premiere, therefore, had to be postponed, and instead of the originally planned spring of 1910 it took place on 8 June 1912. The ballet is Ravel’s longest work, from which he later extracted music to make two orchestral suites in three movements. The second of the suites includes much of the last part of the ballet. It opens with a description of a daybreak, after which Daphnis and Chloe give thanks to the gods for their help. The suite is closed by ecstatic Bacchanalia.
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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