Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36
Concerto for piano and orchestra in A Minor, Op. 16
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28
Pablo de Sarasate
Carmen Fantasy for violin and orchestra, Op. 25
A musician of tremendous emotional power, depth and expressiveness, Ivo Kahánek has gained his reputation as one of the most exciting pianists of his generation and is considered the best Czech contemporary pianist. He is recognised as one of the impressive Romantic pianists and also as a specialist in Czech piano music.
He won the Prague Spring International Music Competition in 2004 and gained awards at other leading international piano competitions (Maria Canals Piano Competition in Barcelona, Vendome Prize in Vienna, Stiftung Tomassoni Wettbewerb in Cologne, Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Marienbad, Concertino Praga, etc.).
After his successful debuts at Beethovenfest Bonn and Prague Spring Festival he was invited by the BBC to perform the Incantations – Fourth Piano Concerto by Bohuslav Martinů at the BBC Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiří Bělohlávek. The concert took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London in August 2007 and was broadcast live by the BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Television as well as the Czech National Radio station “Vltava”. This critically acclaimed Proms debut is now being offered by Deutsche Grammophon as a digital download. It’s no wonder that Ivo Kahánek was selected by Sir Simon Rattle to perform at two concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in November 2014, followed by enthusiastic reactions of critics and the general public alike. Moreover, Ivo Kahánek performs regularly with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and has made highly appreciated performances with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Glasgow, WDR Orchestra Cologne, Philharmonie Essen, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Brno Philharmonic and many others. He has performed with internationally renowned artists, e.g. conductors Pinchas Steinberg, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andrey Boreyko, Jakub Hrůša, Zdeněk Mácal, Tomáš Netopil, violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Alissa Weilerstein, Pavel Haas Quartet, Tetzlaff Quartet etc.
In 2017 he performed in concert tours of Germany, Monaco, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, playing piano concertos by Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Martinů and Bartók. Moreover, he will give solo recitals in London, Monte Carlo, Porto, Prague, Herceg Novi and many cities.
So far Ivo Kahánek has released nine CDs under the Supraphon Music label (which he has entered an exclusive contract into). His solo CD (Janáček-Martinů-Kabeláč) has received top rates in prestigious musical journals (Le Monde de la Musique, Classics Today, Fanfare). Besides that he frequently collaborates with Czech Radio and Czech Television. His last solo record was devoted to Fryderyk Chopinʼs music (Sonata No. 2 in B minor, 4 Scherzi). A recording of songs by Bohuslav Martinů is to be released by Supraphon with the exquisite soprano, Martina Janková, as well as a CD with the piano and chamber works by Viktor Kalabis.
A graduate of both the Janáček Conservatoire in Ostrava and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Ivo Kahánek also graduated from the Advanced Instrumental Studies course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and participated in master classes with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Christian Zacharias, Alicia de Larocha, Imogen Cooper, Peter Frankl and many others.
Jiří Vodička, concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic, soloist, and chamber musician, is one of the most prominent and most sought-after Czech violinists. Already as a child he made a name for himself by winning prizes in many competitions, notably in the Jaroslav Kocian international violin competition, the Prague Junior Note, and the Slovak competition Čirenie talentov. In 2002 he won first prize in the international violin competition Beethoven’s Hradec, and in the same year he was awarded a prize as the best pupil attending Václav Hudeček’s violin classes. He later performed with Hudeček in dozens of concerts throughout the Czech Republic. In 2004 he carried off the prize as overall winner of the International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists in Weimar in Germany. In 2008 he brought back first and second prizes from the world-famous Young Concert Artist competition, which took place in Leipzig and New York.
Exceptionally, Jiří Vodička was accepted at an institute of higher education (the Institute of Art Studies at the University of Ostrava) at the age of only 14. He studied there under the renowned teacher, Zdeněk Gola, and graduated with a master’s degree in 2007.
Jiří Vodička regularly performs as a soloist with many leading orchestras both in the Czech Republic and abroad, including PKF – Prague Philharmonia, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, and, among those in other countries, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen. He also worked with such leading conductors as Jiří Bělohlávek, Jakub Hrůša, and Tomáš Netopil.
In 2014 he recorded his debut solo album Violino Solo with the Supraphon company. It contains some of the most difficult compositions for solo violin and met with a positive response from critics both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Many of his concerts have been broadcast by Czech TV, Czech Radio, and the German ARD broadcasting company.
As a chamber artist he performs together with the leading Czech pianists Martin Kasík, Ivo Kahánek, Ivan Klánský, and Miroslav Sekera. In 2011 he was invited by the famous violinist Gidon Kremer to perform at his Kammermusikfest festival in Lockenhaus, Austria, together with many world-famous artists. He is regularly invited to perform at leading festivals, such as the Prague Spring, Janáček’s May, the Grand Festival of China, and the Choriner Musiksommer. Since 2012 he has been a member of the Smetana Trio, with whom he has recorded two CDs for Supraphon, and which has won the prestigious BBC Music Magazine and Diaposon d’Or awards.
In 2015 he became first violin with the Czech Philharmonic. He teaches at the Prague Conservatory and at Ostrava University.
He plays an Italian instrument made by Joseph Gagliano in 1774.
“Undoubtedly a brilliant conductor of truly rare substance.“
– Michael Bastian Weiss, AZ Kultur, 25 February 2015.
Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare’s profound musicianship, technical brilliance and charismatic presence on the podium has elevated him as one of the most sought after young conductors, working regularly with the world’s leading orchestras.
Highlights of the 2017/2018 season will include return visits to the Vienna Philharmonic for concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus and on tour with Elina Garanca, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Czech Philharmonic and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, plus debuts with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Staatskapelle Dresden, Minnesota Orchestra and his Berlin subscription debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. He will also commence a Bruckner symphony cycle with the Aalborg Symfoniorkester in Denmark.
In May 2012, Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition, and in July 2012, he was personally invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia. This led to a close association and, in July 2015, he was honoured to accept the position of Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival. In the summer of 2015, he conducted performances of Gounod Romeo and Juliette and a performance of Beethovenʼs Symphony No. 9 in memory of Lorin Maazel.
Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu. He has conducted all the major orchestras in Venezuela, including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Having also served as Principal Horn of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, he took part in many prestigious tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle and Lorin Maazel.
One of the artists who first introduced the sensuous world of Spanish music to wider European audiences of the nineteenth century was the world-famous violin virtuoso hailing from Navarre, Pablo de Sarasate. He composed a number of works for his concert performances – often these were virtuoso adaptations of music from successful operas or arrangements of Spanish dances. In his Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25, dating from 1882, we find both: de Sarasate adopted five numbers, most of them dances, from Bizet’s opera of the same name.
The Frenchman, Camille Saint-Saëns, among his other works wrote two brilliant small concert compositions abounding in Hispanic colour – the Caprice andalous, Op. 122 and the Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28. Saint-Saëns originally intended the rondo to serve as the finale of his Violin Concerto No. 1, written in 1858 and dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate, then aged 15, but ultimately decided to conclude the brief concerto with a reprise of its first movement. Only several years later – in 1863 – did Saint-Saëns return to the virtuoso rondo, and added a slow introduction.
With its exotic colour, unusual harmonies and fiery rhythms, the music of the Iberian Peninsula continued to enchant subsequent generations of French composers, including Maurice Ravel, himself a Basque via his mother. It was Ida Rubinstein, the dancer, who steered Ravel towards composing a work based on the rhythms of Spanish dance, when in 1928 she commissioned him to create orchestral arrangements of six pieces from Iberia, a cycle of works for the piano written by the Spanish impressionist, Isaac Albéniz. While working, Ravel learned that there already was an orchestral arrangement, and that copyright issues impeded other arrangements. Although the composer of the existing arrangement, the Spanish conductor Enrique Fernández Arbós, enthusiastically consented to Ravel’s undertaking, the latter in the meantime had decided to compose his own work based on an ostinato rhythm, Boléro.
It was their interest in the distinctive tradition of Russian folklore and Orthodox choral singing that brought together a group of amateur composers whom their artistic adviser, the music critic Vladimir Stasov, later dubbed the “Mighty Handful”. From this group, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov would become the most respected professional composer and teacher. Written in 1887–1888 and quoting Russian Easter chants, his Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36, captures the unique atmosphere of the paschal service, from its mysterious beginning, which brings the news of the Saviour’s resurrection, to its festive climax, a truly popular celebration of life’s victory over death.
Considered a leading figure of Norwegian romantic music and the founder of the nation’s modern school of composition, Edvard Hagerup Grieg sought to include techniques derived from Norwegian folk music in the romantic musical style of his period. These can be heard in one of his first truly mature works, the Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, written in 1868. Norwegian inspirations are particularly conspicuous in the final movement: its energetic main theme is derived from the halling, a folk dance, and there are figurations reminiscent of performances on the traditional Hardanger fiddle.
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