Symphony No. 45 in F Sharp Minor (“Farewell”)
Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46
Totentanz for mezzo-soprano, baritone and orchestra (2013)
The Dutch mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn was born in Delft and studied violin and voice at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. After obtaining her solo violin diploma she continued her vocal studies with Udo Reinemann, Jard van Nes and Dame Janet Baker. Over the years Christianne has won numerous awards, including the prestigious ECHO Rising Stars Award 2005/2006, the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2005, and the Nederlands Muziekprijs in 2008. In 2007 she was selected as a BBC New Generation Artist.
Christianne is a passionate interpreter of art songs. Accompanied by the pianists Joseph Breinl and Julius Drake, with whom she has a longstanding duo partnership, she has appeared in the world’s leading concert venues. She regularly performs chamber music with musicians such as the violist Antoine Tamestit, her brother the double bassist Rick Stotijn and the Oxalys Ensemble.
The conductor Bernard Haitink has had a profound influence on Christianne’s career. Under his direction she has performed with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra.
Christianne has also worked with world-class conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Ivan Fischer, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, Mark Elder and Jaap van Zweden, performing repertoire including: Berliozʼs La Mort de Cléopâtre and Les Nuits dʼété, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Britten’s Phaedra, Mussorgskyʼs Songs and Dances of Death, Mahlerʼs Rückert Lieder and Kindertotenlieder, Neruda Songs by Peter Lieberson, Fünf neapolitanische Lieder by Hans Werner Henze, Wagnerʼs Wesendonck Lieder and Sieben frühe Lieder by Alban Berg.
She has performed diverse world premières of contemporary works. For instance, Michel van der Aa jointly dedicated his song cycle Spaces of Blank to Christianne and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2009. In 2013 she sang the world première of Totentanz by Thomas Adès at the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Christianne also appears regularly on the operatic stage. She has sung the role of Pauline in Pique Dame at the Paris Opera, Isabella in LʼItaliana in Algeri at the Festival dʼAix-en-Provence, Ottavia in Poppea at the Dutch National Opera, the Teatro Campoamor in Oviedo and the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao. She sang Cornelia in Giulio Cesare at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels and at the Dutch National Opera. Other major engagements have included the title role in Tamerlano at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and the role of Brangäne in a concertante performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. In 2014 she appeared as Marfa in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina at Oper Stuttgart.
Christianne Stotijn’s recordings are brought out by the Onyx label. In 2010 her recording of Tchaikovsky songs received the BBC Music Magazine Award. For the MDG label Christianne recorded a work close to her heart: Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke by Frank Martin. This recording earned her the ECHO Award “Liedeinspielung des Jahres 2008”.
Bjørn Waag studied singing, conducting and philosophy and worked as culture editor for the oldest daily newspaper in Norway. He was a Master’s student with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Ernst Haefliger.
Mr. Waag, who has sung over 130 roles, was a member of the Theater Bremen, the National Theatre Mannheim, the German National Theatre of Weimar and the Basel Opera House. Guest performances took him to such important companies as the Bavarian State Opera, State Theatre Stuttgart, almost all German opera houses, the Teatro La Fenice and the Maggio Musicale Florence. Contemporary music has played an important part throughout his career: composers like Trojahn, Huber, Zimmermann and Heusinger wrote roles especially for him. Important collaborations have included ones with stage directors Jürgen Gosch, Elisabeth Stöppler, Claus Guth, Jossi Wieler and Vera Nemirova. He has also collaborated with conductors including Dennis Russell Davies, Michael Boder and Eliahu Inbal.
In 2003, Mr. Waag took over the overall management of the vocal department at the HFM Basel. In 2012/13, he performed the title role in Trojahnʼs Orest and sang Alberich and Gunther in Wagnerʼs Ring Cycle at the newly built Linz opera house.
In 2018, he performed Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw at Staatstheater Dessau. He was also Beckmesser in the first performance of Wagnerʼs Meistersinger at Opera Poznań. He participated in numerous CD recordings with works by Wagner, Schoenberg, Wolf-Ferrari and Laporte.
Thomas Adès was born in London in 1971. His compositions include two operas, Powder Her Face (Cheltenham Festival/Almeida Theatre, London, 1995), and The Tempest (Royal Opera, Covent Garden, 2004). Other orchestral works include Asyla (CBSO, 1997), Tevot (Berlin Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, 2007), Polaris (New World Symphony, Miami 2011), Violin Concerto Concentric Paths (Berliner Festspiele and London Proms, 2005), In Seven Days (Piano concerto with moving image – LA Philharmonic and RFH London, 2008), and Totentanz for mezzo-soprano, baritone and orchestra (London Proms, 2013).
Chamber works include the string quartets Arcadiana (1993) and The Four Quarters (2011), Piano Quintet (2001), and Lieux retrouvés for cello and piano (2010). Solo piano works include Darknesse Visible (1992), Traced Overhead (1996), and Three Mazurkas (2010). Choral works include The Fayrfax Carol (Kingʼs College, Cambridge, 1997), America: a Prophecy (New York Philharmonic, 1999) and January Writ (Temple Church, London, 2000).
From 1999 to 2008 he was Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival.
As a conductor he appears regularly with, among others, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, Melbourne and Sydney Symphonies, BBC Symphony, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. As an opera conductor he has conducted The Rakeʼs Progress at the Royal Opera, London and the Zürich Opera, and in 2012 made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera New York conducting The Tempest. He also conducted this production of The Tempest at the Vienna Staatsoper in 2015 with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Future plans include Totentanz with the Boston and Chicago Symphonies and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics.
Recent piano engagements include solo recitals at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium), New York and the Barbican in London, and concerto appearances with the New York Philharmonic.
Prizes include: Grawemeyer Award for Asyla (1999); Royal Philharmonic Society large-scale composition awards for Asyla, The Tempest and Tevot; Ernst von Siemens Composersʼ prize for Arcadiana; British Composer Award for The Four Quarters; and Best Opera Grammy and Diapason dʼor de lʼannée (Paris) for The Tempest. He coaches Piano and Chamber Music annually at the International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove.
violin, artistic director of the project
Josef Špaček is fast emerging as one of the most accomplished violinists of his generation. He studied with Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School in New York, Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with Jaroslav Foltýn at the Prague Conservatory. He was a laureate of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and won top prizes at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.
Highlights during the 2017/2018/2019 seasons include a return visit to the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Marc Albrecht, as well as debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Capitole de Toulouse and Thomas Søndergård, the Bamberger Symphoniker and Manfred Honeck, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Maxim Emelyanchev, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Michael Sanderling, the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and David Zinman, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Aziz Shokhakimov, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo and Tomáš Netopil, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Christian Vásquez, the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and Daniel Blendulf and the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra and Lio Kuokman. He continues to appear as a soloist of the Czech Philharmonic for concerts, both in Prague and on tour, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, Jakub Hrůša and Thomas Adès.
Previous highlights include subscription concerts with the Czech Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, a return visit to the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino and James Conlon, his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek, his Berlin debut with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Thomas Sanderling, his Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård, his Tokyo debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša and debuts with the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and Gerard Korsten, the Sønderjylland Symphony Orchestra and Johannes Wildner and the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and Adrien Perruchon (recorded by Mezzo Live HD TV), as well as recital debuts in among others Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego.
In addition to the above-mentioned orchestras, Josef Špaček has appeared across Europe, the US and Asia with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Essener Philharmoniker, Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich, Orchestre National de Belgique, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
The late Jiří Bělohlávek was an avid supporter of Josef Špaček and regularly invited him. Other conductors he works with include Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach, Asher Fisch, Valery Gergiev, Roy Goodman, Jakub Hrůša, Manfred Honeck, Eliahu Inbal, Jun Märkl, Rossen Milanov, Tomáš Netopil, Thomas Sanderling and Thomas Søndergård.
Josef Špaček gives recitals and takes part in chamber music festivals in Europe (among others at the Rudolfinum in Prague, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Evian Festival, Kaposfest and Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (i.a., Kennedy Center, La Jolla, ChamberFest Cleveland and Nevada Chamber Music Festival).
Supraphon released a highly praised recording of the violin concertos by Dvořák and Janáček, and of the Fantasy by Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek (“Recording of the Week” of The Sunday Times, “Recording of the Month and of the Year” of MusicWeb International and 5* in Diapason), as well as a recital CD with works for violin and piano by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev with pianist Miroslav Sekera. In 2010 he recorded works by H. W. Ernst for Naxos. His first CD, released in 2006, includes a complete recording of the Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.
He has served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history. The orchestra has named him “Associate Artist” as of January 2016.
Josef Špaček performs on the ca. 1732 “LeBrun; Bouthillard” Guarneri del Gesù violin, generously on loan from Ingles & Hayday.
The German composer, Max Bruch, wrote his first symphony aged fourteen. During his life, he held various posts as composer and teacher throughout Germany. In 1880–1883, he led the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. For twenty years (1890–1910) he taught composition at Berlin’s Universität der Künste, where his pupils included Ottorino Respighi and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Although he composed more than 200 works (during his lifetime he was particularly noted as a choral composer), only a handful remain on the repertory today. Bruch’s sense of melody was much influenced by his interest in the folk music of various countries.
Bruch wrote his Scottish Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in E-flat major, Op. 46 in 1879–1880 and dedicated it to the celebrated violin virtuoso, Pablo de Sarasate. A four-movement fantasy on Scottish folk melodies, the work gives a prominent place to the harp, evoking not only traditional Scottish music but also, it would appear, telling famous stories from Scottish history – Bruch was a passionate reader of Sir Walter Scott. Each movement is built around one old folk tune, with Scots Wha Hae, a war song of rousing patriotism, serving this role in the final movement.
Thomas Adès, a composer, conductor and native of London, has written several dozen works – chamber, orchestral and operatic – and is one of the most distinctive figures of contemporary classical music. Important institutions and ensembles, including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Berlin Philharmonic; New York’s Carnegie Hall; and the Salzburg Festival have commissioned works from him. Adès’s rich musical language goes beyond the deep-rooted practices; it is extremely fluid and unpredictable, creating a sound that is often unusual and surprising, but this is not to the detriment of the consistency of his musical material. The resulting emotional effects are often profound. The composer himself frequently talks of the “magnetism” affecting the relationships between the notes and the possibilities this opens for him in his work.
The composer found the inspiration for this 2013 work, Totentanz, in the medieval paintings on canvas that wound their way around the walls of St Mary’s Church in Lübeck, North Germany (unfortunately, during World War II, the paintings were destroyed, together with the organ that had been played by Dietrich Buxtehude, among others). The paintings depicted Death gradually enthralling everyone on the social ladder, from prominent figures to those who have no secular power or influence. Thus, in turn we encounter the Pope, an emperor, a cardinal, a king, a monk, a knight, a mayor, a physician, a usurer, a merchant, a parish official, a craftsman, a peasant, a girl and a child. Death, however, pays no attention to the important social standing of some of its victims: it is He who beats the rhythm.
After the encounter between Death and the merchant, about halfway through the work, the “dance of death” becomes frenetic; this is followed by an eerie section where the diffident parish official who has just begun his service must give himself over to Death. The work climaxes in a lyrical, almost Schubertian duet between Death and an innocent child who is not yet able to walk but still must dance. In the very conclusion of the work, the word “tanzen”, repeated many times, reminds us that this is a dance where no one has any choice. Totentanz, after the original German texts that accompanied the paintings noted above, was written for a mezzo-soprano, a baritone and a large orchestra, in which the percussion plays a prominent part. Both of the soloists of tonight’s concert performed at its premiere at the 2013 BBC Proms festival.
Joseph Haydn has gone down in history as one of the most prolific composers and, what is more, he fundamentally influenced the evolution of a number of musical forms, especially the symphony and the string quartet. Of his 104 symphonies, about 25 were written during the 1770s. They tend to be distinguished by a strong emotional charge and compelling expression, corresponding to the atmosphere of the contemporary “Sturm und Drang” movement. But Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor “Farewell”, Hob I/45, written in 1772, also had an ulterior motive: the composer wanted to suggest to his then employer, Count Esterházy, not to keep him at the Count’s summer residence any longer, as Haydn and the other musicians could not wait to be reunited with their families.
The urgency of the first movement – an Allegro assai full of dramatic contrasts – is accentuated by a general pause, which is followed by an entirely new musical idea. The slow movement is not particularly striking in terms of melody or dynamics and, furthermore, Haydn asks the strings to play con sordino. Its harmonies vary significantly and the movement only returns to its home key, A major, shortly before the conclusion. This is followed by the dance movement, Menuetto: Allegretto, whichincludes a trio in the unusual key of F sharp major. The Finale: Presto – Adagio explains the symphony’s sobriquet “Farewell”: a fast section is followed by a long Adagio, in which the instruments gradually fall silent. Today, we can still admire Haydn’s daring in concluding a symphony against the listener’s expectations, with slow music fading to nothingness.
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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