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Respected Czech violinist Ivan Ženatý joins the Czech Philharmonic and conductor Petr Altrichter to perform Josef Suk's Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra at the Leoš Janáček International Music Festival in Ostrava.
The Ostrava House of Culture
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Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra in G minor, Op. 24
- Petr Altrichter / conductor
Petr Altrichter is one of the most distinguished Czech conductors, and he has earned an illustrious reputation for the dynamism and depth of his interpretations of symphonic music. He was raised in a musical family and played musical instruments from a young age. Having graduated from the Conservatory in Ostrava as a French horn player and conductor, he continued his studies at the Janáček Academy of the Performing Arts in Brno in orchestral conducting under Otakar Trhlík and František Jílek and choral conducting with Josef Veselka and Lubomír Mátl. After completing his studies in Brno, he worked as a choirmaster and conductor with the Brno Academic Choir, and contributed to the winning of many prizes at foreign choral competitions and festivals (Middlesbrough, Debrecen…).
Altrichter attracted international attention in 1976, when he won second prize and a special prize of the jury at the renowned International Conducting Competition in Besançon, France. Based on this achievement he began to work with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as an assistant of Václav Neumann, which started his artistic career. Not long after that, he began to receive invitations to conduct orchestras abroad. After working with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, in 1988 he became the principal guest conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and in 1991 he was appointed its chief conductor. With that orchestra, he made frequent foreign tours to Japan, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and other countries. At the same time he also closely collaborated with the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, with which he often gave performances abroad introducing many gifted young soloists (such as Isabelle van Keulen and Radek Baborák).
From 1993 to 2004 he also worked as the Music Director of the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Constance, Germany, with which he gave concerts regularly at the Tonhalle in Zurich and at the KKL in Lucerne, and also toured Switzerland and Italy. Having made his U.K. debut with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in 1990, Petr Altrichter made his London debut with the English Chamber Orchestra 1993. He then conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994 to a great critical acclaim. He was subsequently appointed its Principal Conductor, a post he held from 1997 until 2001. With this orchestra he appeared at the 2000 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and made several highly-praised recordings on the orchestra’s own label, RLPO live.
In 2001 Altrichter was invited to become the Chief Conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and he remained there for seven years, returning to the orchestra with which he had been associated since his student days and which he continues to guest conduct up to this day. He is also a regular guest of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he has maintained a steady artistic relationship since his beginnings there as an assistant conductor, and of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he recorded an award-winning CD with Antonín Dvořák’s music. Since the 2018/2019 season, he has been a permanent guest conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he has been working for many years.
In 2015 he toured Germany with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and in late 2015 and early 2016, he toured China with the same orchestra. At the beginning of the 2017/2018 season, he conducted the Czech Philharmonic at the Dvořák Prague International Festival and later toured very successfully in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan with the same orchestra. In the spring of 2017 he toured Japan with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. In 2018 he toured the United Kingdom with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. In May 2019 he will be touring with the Czech Philharmonic in China.
Altrichter has appeared as a guest conductor with many leading international orchestras, including Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. In the United Kingdom he has collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestras he has guest conducted also include the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in Riga, the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen and the Odense Symphony Orchestra.
He is a frequent guest at festivals such as Prague Spring, Janáček May in Ostrava, Smetana’s Litomyšl, Moravian Autumn in Brno, and the Bratislava Music Festival. He has made guest appearances at major festivals in Salzburg, Edinburgh, Avignon, Athens, Cheltenham, Paris, Madrid, Chicago, Zurich, Lucerne, Seville, Palermo, and elsewhere.
The bulk of Petr Altrichter’s repertoire consists of Czech music (Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Bohuslav Martinů), Russian music (especially Dmitri Shostakovich), and the works of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Outstanding soloists and performers from around the world (Garrick Ohlsson, John Lill, Tabea Zimmermann and others) value his flexibility in leading orchestral accompaniments, and they seek out collaboration with him.
- Ivan Ženatý / violin
Music critics, fellow musicians and audiences call Ivan Ženatý “the most important Czech violinist of this time.”
Mr. Ženatý reaches a broad public without abandoning the world of classical music for even a moment. Besides the technical perfection one would expect, he is also appreciated for his taste, style and captivatingly beautiful tone. With his exceptional wealth of repertoire including more than 50 violin concertos, he is a favoured guest artist with many international orchestras. Known for his versatility, his engagements also include solo recitals and chamber music collaborations.
His international career developed as a result of winning a prize in the Tchaikovsky International Violin Competition followed immediately by debut engagements with the Moscow and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. Other successes include first prize at the Prague Spring Competition, as well as being a chosen laureate of the UNESCO International Rostrum of Young Performers. In the subsequent years Ivan Ženatý made his orchestral and solo debuts in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Zurich, Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires, Madrid and Jerusalem.
The musicianship of Ivan Ženatý has been influenced the most by his personal encounters with Nathan Milstein, Ruggiero Ricci and André Gertler. Studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow under the tutelage of Igor Bezrodny had the greatest impact on his technical approach to the violin. The great Czech musical tradition was passed on to Ivan Ženatý through his mentor Josef Suk, which resulted in many years of professional partnership and culminated in a recording of the complete works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Other great musicians, with which Ivan Ženatý collaborated, include Yehudi Menuhin, Yo-Yo Ma, Serge Baudo, Valery Gergiev and Neville Marriner.
Ivan Ženatý’s recordings have always been enthusiastically received by listeners and music critics. His prolific output of over 40 CDs includes the complete works of Telemann, Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Schulhoff, Dvořák and Grieg. His new recording of the complete works of Dvořák has attracted extraordinary attention, as has his recording of both violin concertos by Josef Bohuslav Foerster with the BBC Symphony Orchestra London and its music director Jiří Bělohlávek.
A natural counterbalance to Ivan Ženatý’s concert and recording activities is his work as an acclaimed teacher. Mr. Ženatý has taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden and in the fall of 2012 he was invited to join the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music. His summer activities will include teaching at the Meadowmount School of Music.
Thanks to the Harmony Foundation of New York, Ivan Ženatý plays a rare Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu violin made in 1740.
- Josef Suk / Fantazie pro housle a orchestr g moll op. 24
- / Sinfonietta
Janáček had to wait sixty-two years for his first major success as a composer – in music history, one can hardly find a similar case of a composer’s career blooming so late. No one would dare call into question Janáček’s late works, as was done in Smetana’s case. The Great War meant the end of the Old World and its sophisticated cultural elite. The world had changed, and this was also reflected in the arts, including music. While most composers (often far younger than Janáček) were unwilling or unable to adapt their works to the spirit of the new era, Janáček bloomed like a rose of Jericho.
He became the pride of the Czechoslovak Republic, and in the course of just under a decade, he churned out his masterpieces – Taras Bulba, Sinfonietta, The Diary of One Who Disappeared, the two string quartets, the Glagolitic Mass, the Concertino for piano and chamber ensemble, and the Capriccio for piano (left hand) and wind ensemble. This is no mere listing of compositions; these works belong to the worldwide twentieth-century concert repertoire. Following the success of his long rejected opera Jenůfa, in just seven years he wrote four more operas – Káťa Kabanová, The Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropulos Affair, and From the House of the Dead. They have all entered the standard repertoire on stages around the world. Janáček still remains the most frequently performed Czech opera composer abroad.
“I have arrived here with the youthful spirit of our republic, with youthful music. I am not one of those who look back; rather I prefer to look forward”, said Janáček in England in April 1926 when he was composing the Sinfonietta. And the Sinfonietta is a truly perfect combination of everything for which a citizen of the First Czechoslovak Republic was striving: the glory of the nation, the development of the Sokol movement, and the security of the republic. After the Prague premiere, in the newspaper Lidové noviny Boleslav Vomáčka described the composing of the Sinfonietta on the basis of information he had received directly from Janáček: the composer is said to have gone with misgivings to hear fanfares “of a kind he had never heard before” played by a brass band of soldiers in “historical costumes” in the South Bohemian town of Písek. The experience was brought back to his mind by the newspaper Lidové noviny, which asked him to “write ‘a few notes’ on their behalf for a Sokol ceremony”. Janáček thought it over only briefly, “then the idea flashed into his mind: Sokol members – red shirts – fanfares! And he immediately sketched out some fanfares, but from them, the music suddenly began to grow, movement by movement, until after the short period of just three weeks, the maestro had before him the finished score of the Sinfonietta.” Music for a special occasion thus gave rise to a great work that has enormously enriched the Czech symphonic repertoire.
- Vítězslav NOVÁK / Lady Godiva