Czech Philharmonic performs with Petr Altrichter and German cellist Isang Enders in Seoul, South Korea, as a part of the orchestra's 2017 tour of Asia.
Seoul Arts Center
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Overture to The Bartered Bride
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88
Isang Enders has quickly established himself as a dynamic artist in search of new-concepts and works for the violoncello. Born into a German-Korean musician family in Frankfurt in 1988, Isang Enders began studying with Michael Sanderling at the age of twelve. His playing has since been influenced by his studies with Gustav Rivinius, Truls Mørk, and above all, by the mentoring of the American cellist Lynn Harrell.
At the age of twenty, Isang Enders was appointed principal cello of the Dresden Staatskapelle, making him the youngest section leader in Germany. During his four years with the orchestra, he also co-founded the Gohrisch Shostakovich Festival alongside Tobias Niederschlag.
Isang Enders recently made his debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra, enjoyed collaborations with the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker and Stavanger Symphony orchestras and performs regularly with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked with eminent conductors including Myung-Whun Chung, Christoph Eschenbach, Pablo Heras-Casado, Eliahu Inbal, Zubin Mehta and Vasily Petrenko.
He has most recently performed Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto in both Stavanger and Paris, and performed the Korean debut of Dutilleux’s Cello Concerto as well the Shostakovich Cello Concerto with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a dedicated chamber musician, he continues to work closely with the pianist Igor Levit, with whom he has toured extensively, as well as Kit Armstrong and Sunwook Kim.
Last season he made his debut at the Bach Festival in Montreal, and spent the summer at the Malboro Music Festival in the US. He performs regularly as a recitalist at Heidelburger Fruhling and Rheingau Musikfestivals.
His highly-acclaimed and early recording of the Bach Cello Suites on Berlin Classics was a triumph. One critic describes him as a “reflective and highly intelligent young man”. Isang Enders is signed to Berlin Classics and SONY Music Entertainment and plays an instrument by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume (Paris, 1840).
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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