Czech Philharmonic performs with conductor Tomáš Netopil and cellist Trul Mørk at the Grafenegg Festival in Austria.
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Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Truls Mørk’s compelling performances, combining fierce intensity, integrity and grace, have established him as one of the most pre-eminent cellists of our time.
He has appeared with orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris, Staatskapelle Dresden, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and Cleveland orchestras amongst others. Conductor collaborations include Myung-Whun Chung, Mariss Jansons, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, and Christoph Eschenbach.
Forthcoming highlights include concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Vladimir Jurowski), Berliner Philharmoniker (Alan Gilbert), Philharmonia Orchestra (Jakub Hrůša), Wiener Symphoniker and Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (both with James Gaffigan), hr-Sinfonieorchester (David Zinman), and Münchner Philharmoniker (Lionel Bringuier). Truls Mørk will tour with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Mariss Jansons) to London and Paris, and with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Neeme Järvi), where he performs Brahms’ Double Concerto with Vadim Repin. In North America, Mørk collaborates with Vadim Repin in summer 2013 performing Brahms’ Double Concerto at the Mostly Mozart Festival under David Afkham, and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano) as well as a return to The Philadelphia Orchestra (Yannick Nézet-Séguin) which will include a performance at Carnegie Hall. Mørk makes a return to both the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony in 2014, which will be followed by a European tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis.
Truls Mørk continues to give regular recitals at major venues and festivals throughout the world.
As part of the 2011 Bergen International Festivalhe performed the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas over two evenings, together with the Variations for cello and piano – last presented at the Festival in this format by Jacqueline du Pré in 1970.
Truls Mørk is a committed performer of contemporary music and in spring 2012 gave the UK premiere of Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizon with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Other premieres have included Pavel Haas’ Cello Concerto with the Wiener Philharmoniker (under Jonathan Nott), Krzysztof Penderecki's Concerto for Three Cellos with the NHK Symphony Orchestra (Charles Dutoit) and Haflidi Hallgrimsson’s Cello Concerto, co-commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony and Scottish Chamber orchestras.
Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizon was recorded for Ondine with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgårds and nominated for a Grammy Award. Mørk’s recording of the highly acclaimed Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Cello Concerti disc for Virgin Classics with Les Violons du Roy under Bernard Labadie was awarded a 2011 ECHO Klassik Award. Other recordings include the Brahms Double Concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly and Vadim Repin on Deutsche Grammophon, and Haflidi Hallgrímssonʼs works for cello and orchestra for Ondine. For Virgin Classics, amongst others he has also recorded Schumannʼs Cello Concerto with Paavo Järvi and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the complete Bach Cello Suites as well as the Britten Cello Suites, which won a Grammy Award in 2002.
Initially taught by his father, Truls Mørk continued his studies with Frans Helmerson, Heinrich Schiff and Natalia Schakowskaya. His numerous awards include the Norwegian Critics’ Prize in 2011 and the 2010 Sibelius Prize. Truls Mørk plays on the rare 1723 Domenico Montagnana ‘Esquire’.
For Dvořák, 1889, in which he finished Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88, was a successful year indeed. He was offered the post of professor of composition at the Prague Conservatory and the National Theatre premiered his opera The Jacobin. The general interest in his music was further boosted by his fruitful visits to England.
Dvořák was absorbed in work on his Eighth Symphony from 28 August to 8 November, with the bulk of the time spent at his summer residence in Vysoká, the place he felt the most at ease. Yet the idyllic creative atmosphere was disturbed by a dispute with his “chief” publisher, Simrock, which ultimately resulted in an interruption of their co-operation for three years. Dvořák’s opus 88 was hence published by the London-based Novello. The symphony was subsequently given the subtitle “English”. In its basic features – four movements and their tempo scheme – Dvořák’s Eighth retains the structure of a classical symphony. Nevertheless, the work is striking owing to numerous innovations and a varied succession of changing moods. As the composer himself put it, he strove to treat themes and motifs in other than the “usual, universally used and acknowledged forms”.
Symphony No. 8 was premiered, with Dvořák himself conducting, on 2 February 1890 at the Rudolfinum in Prague within the popular Umělecká beseda society concerts. On 24 April of the same year it was performed in London at a Philharmonic Society concert at St. James’s Hall. An English reviewer wrote: “Although, just like Brahms, striving to adhere to the Beethoven school, Dvořák is the only one who is able to employ a distinctly new element in a symphony.” The Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick described the piece as follows: “This is one of Dvořák’s finest pieces……His works demonstrate an original personality, and this personality breathes the refreshing spirit of something novel and original.”
Noteworthy too is Dvořák’s commentary following the London premiere: “The concert turned out splendidly, dare I say as well as any other before… I was called several times to the stage – by and large, it was as nice and sincere as at the premieres at home in Prague. So I am satisfied and thank God that it has turned out so well!”
In 1891, Antonín Dvořák was offered the directorship of the New York Conservatory. After some hesitation, the composer accepted this challenge – which was interesting in both artistic and financial terms – and the next year sailed with his family across the Atlantic. Beyond leading the institution, his duties included teaching composition, and he also had the ambition of laying down the ideological foundations of American art music. Dvořák spent more than two-and-a-half years in America and wrote important instrumental works there. These include, in addition to his String Quartet No. 12 in F Major “American”, his most often played orchestral compositions, namely, Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World” and the work that opens this evening, Cello Concerto in B Minor.
Dvořák completed his only concert work for the cello whilst still in New York, but reworked its conclusion on returning to his homeland. Although the work adopts the traditional three-movement concerto form, it is conceived rather symphonically. It starts with an extensive orchestral introduction, presenting the two contrasting themes of the first movement, which is in loose sonata form. The cello then resolutely introduces a new exposition of the first theme, which the soloist continues to work with, until the second theme is outlined. The sonata development is very brief and the recapitulation, full of virtuoso runs for the solo instrument, has also been treated very freely by the composer. The second movement takes a symmetric ternary form with a dramatic middle section and lyrical outer sections. Here the writing for the cello is characterised by semitone “sighs” and numerous double-stops. The final movement is a rondo and has been read as a joyful harbinger of the composer’s return to the motherland. Immediately upon its premiere, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto gained significant popularity and to this day continues to be a favourite in the repertoires of the world’s greatest cellists.
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