Symphony No. 6 H 343
Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Symphony No. 3 H 299
Legendary pianist Mitsuko Uchida brings a deep insight into the music she plays through her own quest for truth and beauty. Renowned for her interpretations of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Beethoven, she has also illuminated the music of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez for a new generation of listeners.
In 2017/2018, Mitsuko Uchida will embark on a two-year Schubert Sonata series, featuring 12 of Schubert’s major works which she will tour throughout Europe and North America. Main venues will include the Royal Festival Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Berlin Philharmonie and the Vienna Musikverein. In the same season, she will also appear with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, the Chicago Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel in addition to directing the Cleveland Orchestra in Mozart concerti.
Artist in Residence at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie in 2016/2017, Mitsuko Uchida played the opening piano recital in January 2017. Last season marked the start of a three-year collaboration with the Southbank Centre in London and since 2016, Mitsuko Uchida is an Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, directing Mozart concerti from the keyboard in tours of major European venues and Japan. With a strong commitment to chamber music, Mitsuko Uchida collaborates closely with the world’s finest musicians. Recently, Mitsuko Uchida partnered with Jörg Widmann for a series of concerts at the Wigmore Hall, Elbphilharmonie and Carnegie Hall and has collaborated with Dorothea Röschmann, the Ebène Quartet and Magdalena Kožená.
Mitsuko Uchida’s loyal relationship with the finest orchestras and concert halls has resulted in numerous residencies. She has been Artist-in-Residence at the Cleveland Orchestra and at the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Salzburg Mozartwoche and Lucerne Festival. Carnegie Hall dedicated to her a Perspectives series entitled “Mitsuko Uchida: Vienna Revisited“ and the Concertgebouw a Carte Blanche series.
Mitsuko Uchida records exclusively for Decca. Her extensive discography includes the complete Mozart and Schubert piano sonatas. Since 2011 Uchida has been recording Mozart’s Piano Concerti with the Cleveland Orchestra live in concert and directing from the piano. The first release won a Grammy Award in 2011. The last instalment featuring concerti KV 453 and KV 503 was released in autumn 2016. Her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra won four awards, including The GramophoneAward for Best Concerto. The Schumann and Berg album, a collaboration with Soprano Dorothea Röschmann, won a Grammy Award in 2017.
Highly committed to aiding the development of young musicians, Mitsuko Uchida is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and Director of the Marlboro Music Festival. In June 2009 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In May 2012 she was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal and in 2014 received an Honorary Degree from the University of Cambridge. A guest of honour at the Salzburg Mozartwoche in 2015, Mitsuko Uchida was awarded the Golden Mozart Medal. In October 2015, she received the Premium Imperiale Award from the Japan Arts Association.
“The Czech Philharmonic is very close to my heart artistically and personally. With the leading orchestra of our country, I have repeatedly experienced moments of beauty and deep feeling on the podium. I regard it as an honor that I may continue to be a part of the innermost musical family of the Czech Philharmonic, now alongside the new Chief Conductor, Semyon Bychkov, and together with my wonderful colleague Tomáš Netopil. I am looking forward to our joint projects, whether they will involve performing the classics from this country and around the world or excursions into the realm of lesser-known repertoire and contemporary music. It is my wish that together, our whole institution might continue successfully and harmoniously along the artistic path begun by Jiří Bělohlávek.“
Jakub Hrůša made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic in 2004 when he stepped in at short notice to conduct a programme of Janáček, Martinů and Dvořák. He had just graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague where Jiří Bělohlávek was amongst his teachers. Hrůša has subsequently conducted the Orchestra in forty concerts at home and on tour and, at the start of the 2015/16 season was appointed Permanent Guest Conductor. This season he conducts the opening concerts of the Czech Philharmonic season and has been named Principal Guest Conductor with effect from the 2018/19 season.
A regular guest with leading orchestras in both Europe and the USA, Jakub Hrůša is also Chief Conductor of Bamberg Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. He served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of PKF – Prague Philharmonia from 2009 to 2015. Recent orchestral highlights include debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, as well as return engagements with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. This season he will make his debuts with the San Francisco Symphony and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras.
Equally at home in operatic repertoire, Hrůša is a regular guest of the National Theatre in Prague and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and between 2010 and 2012 he was Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour. For Glyndebourne Festival, he has conducted Janáček‘s The Cunning Little Vixen, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Turn of the Screw, Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Puccini’s La bohème. Elsewhere he has conducted Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair (Wiener Staatsoper), Jenůfa (Finnish National Opera), and Dvořák’s Rusalka (Opéra national de Paris), alongside works by Puccini (Il trittico for Oper Frankfurt) and Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov for Royal Danish Opera). During the 2017/18 season, he returns to Opéra national de Paris for Lehár’s The Merry Widow, makes his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Bizet’s Carmen, and conducts a new production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa for Glyndebourne Festival.
In the studio, Jakub Hrůša has recorded the Tchaikovsky and Bruch Violin Concertos with the Czech Philharmonic and Nicola Benedetti for Universal; live recordings for Octavia Records of works by Berlioz, Strauss and Suk with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra; three discs for Pentatone with PKF-Prague Philharmonia; and six discs of Czech music for Supraphon. Marking the start of his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Hrůša and the Orchestra recorded Smetana’s Má vlast, the first disc in a new partnership with Tudor.
In recognition of his championing of Janáček’s music abroad, Jakub Hrůša was awarded the inaugural Sir Charles Mackerras Prize. He is also President of the International Martinů Circle.
The inception of Arnold Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto, Op. 42 almost coincided with that of Bohuslav Martinů’s Third Symphony, and it was also written in the United States. Although these are different musical worlds, the personal styles of both composers are the result of their autonomous search for a modern musical language, while coming to terms with the legacy of music history. The originally intended simple structure of this concerto eventually developed into a work incorporating the fate of those persecuted by Nazism. It differs from Schoenberg’s other American compositions, in which he ceased to strictly apply the principles of dodecaphony, yet there are also tonal sections, references to folk rhythms and so on. By its structure it has returned to historical forms; although the concerto is conceived as a single-movement form, it is divided into four parts.
The influence of Johannes Brahms, whom Schoenberg always admired, is reflected in the relationship between the solo instrument and the orchestra as well as the treatment of the piano part. Schoenberg marked each section of this autobiographical composition as follows: “Life was so easy”, “Suddenly hatred broke out”, “A grave situation was created”, and “But life goes on”. All this is interconnected by a basic twelve-tone row; the stylized rhythm of the ländler or waltz represents Schoenberg’s reminiscence of his native city of Vienna. The concerto was performed in the world premiere on 6 February 1944 in New York at the Radio City Music Hall by the NBC Symphony under Leopold Stokowsky with Eduard Steuermann as the soloist.
Bohuslav Martinů’s Sixth Symphony was originally entitled “Nouvelle Symphonie fantastique” as a reference to Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony, but the composer changed its name to Fantaisies Symphoniques. Martinů personally wished to create a work for the conductor Charles Munch, and he dedicated the symphony to him as well. Its composition took almost two years, during which its concept changed dramatically. The symphony was completed in May 1953 and was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Munch on 7 January 1955.
Martinů’s decision to write it as a free fantasy enabled the complete freedom of the art of variations, in which the whole construction is being built up from a simple idea. Like the Third Symphony, the Sixth Symphony is in three movements, and there are other similarities between these two compositions. The four-tone first theme of the first movement, which is played by solo cello, has been taken from Dvořák’s Requiem – it is the same theme that had already appeared in the Third Symphony. A quotation or reference is also to be found in the second movement; this time it is the harmonious link used by Leoš Janáček in his symphonic poem Taras Bulba. The Music Critics Circle of New York City honored the Fantasies Symphoniques as the best orchestral work performed for the first time in New York in 1955.
Bohuslav Martinů’s Third Symphony came into being during his summer retreat in Connecticut in 1944. He composed it spontaneously, without a commission, but at first the creative process was not successful. His concentration was disturbed by news from the war and homesickness. However, the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 brought about a turning point in the war and the hopelessness turned into hope. Perhaps that is why the symphony was particularly dear to Martinů’s heart and he was very proud of it. Its premiere took place in a more joyful period, on 12 October 1945 in Boston. Third Symphony is in three movements; its center of gravity is the final movement. The first movement is based on a three-tone theme which slowly turns into a motif from Dvořák’s Requiem, also used in the symphonic poem Asrael by Josef Suk. The composition ends in conciliatory tones, deep in thought.
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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