Photo illustrating page  Czech Philharmonic Katia and Marielle Labèque

Czech Philharmonic

Katia and Marielle Labèque

Czech Philharmonic

American composer and guitarist Bryce Dessner lives in Paris and has shared many years of friendship with Semyon Bychkov.

Programme

Bryce Dessner
Symphonic composition for orchestra (world premières)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Concerto No. 10 in E Flat Major for two pianos and orchestra, K 365

Antonín Dvořák
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (“From the New World”)

Performers

Katia and Marielle Labèque pianos

Semyon Bychkov conductor

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Katia and Marielle Labèque
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
3 Feb 2021  Wednesday — 10.00am Final rehearsal
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3 Feb 2021  Wednesday — 7.30pm
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4 Feb 2021  Thursday — 7.30pm
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5 Feb 2021  Friday — 7.30pm
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Price from 290 to 1400 Kč

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American composer and guitarist Bryce Dessner lives in Paris and has shared many years of friendship with Semyon Bychkov. He plays the guitar with The National rock band and at the same time he is a distinguished composer, whose works have been premièred by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Kronos Quartet, Katia and Marielle Labèque. He has worked closely with Philipp Glass and Steve Reich as well as with Paul Simon and the film director Alejandro González Iñárritu, composing the music for his film The Revenant. The two pianos in Mozart’s Concerto in E Flat Major are also the driving force for the entire first half of the programme, because Bryce Dessner’s work for Katia and Marielle Labèque inspired maestro Bychkov’s deeper interest in the composer’s music.

To celebrate 125 years since the Czech Philharmonic was founded, Semyon Bychkov has chosen to perform the three greatest symphonies of Antonín Dvořák, who stood at the orchestra’s helm during its first concert. To be specific, Dvořák’s New World Symphony was one of the works performed on 4 January 1896. After the symphony’s world première in New York, a New York Times critic wrote: “In the first place, Dr. Dvorak has shown his thorough mastership of symphonic writing by avoiding the pitfall which has invariably entrapped the American composer. […] What he has done is to saturate himself with the spirit of negro music and then to invent his own themes. He has made himself completely the master of the fundamental melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic peculiarities of negro tunes.”

Performers

Katia & Marielle Labèque   pianos
Katia & Marielle Labèque

“The best piano duo in front of an audience today”

New York Times

 

“The Labèque sisters are tremendous. They are great performers, and great interpreters. And they are wonderful supporters of music – not only modern music, but just music. It is great to work with them”

Philip Glass

 

“Whether Mozart or Stravinsky, their musical line always sounds as if it’s being woven for the very first time... But the illusion of improvisation is the genius of their performances. In all their recordings there is a deceptive sprezzatura that is born of throwing the preparation to the winds and hanging onto each others ears.”

The Times

 

Katia and Marielle Labèque are sibling pianists renowned for their ensemble of synchronicity and energy. Their musical ambitions started at an early age and they rose to international fame with their contemporary rendition of Gershwinʼs Rhapsody in Blue (one of the first gold records in classical music) and have since developed a stunning career with performances worldwide.

They are regular guests with the most prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Filarmonia della Scala, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Marin Alsop, Alain Altinoglu, Semyon Bychkov, Sir Colin Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Gustavo Gimeno, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Pietari Inkinen, Louis Langrée, Zubin Mehta, Juanjo Mena, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Matthias Pintscher, Georges Prêtre, Sir Simon Rattle, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas and Jaap van Zweden.

They have appeared with Baroque music ensembles such as The English Baroque Soloists with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini, Musica Antica with Reinhard Goebel and Venice Baroque with Andrea Marcon, il Pomo d’Oro with Maxim Emelyanychev and also toured with The Age of Enlightenment & Sir Simon Rattle.

Katia and Marielle have had the privilege of working with many composers including Thomas Adès, Louis Andriessen, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, György Ligeti, Nico Muhly and Olivier Messiaen. At Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles they presented the world premiere of Philip Glass’s new Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel. In spring 2017 also saw the world premiere of Bryce Dessner’s concerto at Royal Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and John Storgards and in June 2020 a new concerto written by Nico Muhly, will receive its world premiere at Lincoln Center with New York Philharmonic and Jaap van Zweden.

The Labèques play in festivals and renowned venues worldwide including the Vienna Musikverein, Hamburg Musikhalle, Munich Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Royal Festival Hall, La Scala, Berlin Philharmonie, Blossom, Hollywood Bowl, Lucerne, BBC Proms, Ravinia, Tanglewood and Salzburg. An audience of more than 33,000 attended a gala concert with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at Berlin’s Waldbühne, now available on DVD (EuroArts). A record audience of more then 100.000 attended the Vienna Summer Night Concert in Schönbrunn (now available on CD and DVD by Sony). More than 1.5 million viewers followed the event worldwide on TV.

For their own label, KML Recordings, they have released a CD Box “Sisters”. Previous releases include a Gershwin/Bernstein album, and their project Minimalist Dream House (50 years of Minimalist music). The DVD “The Labèque Way, a letter to Katia and Marielle by Alessandro Baricco” produced by El Deseo (Pedro and Augustin Almodóvar) and filmed by Félix Cábez is released by EuroArts. Their biography “Une vie à quatre mains” by Renaud Machart is published by Buchet-Chastel.

Labèque’s label KML Recordings joined the historical label Deutsche Grammophon, their first collaboration being Stravinskyʼs Rite of Spring and Debussyʼs Epigraphes Antiques, followed by “Love Stories” with music by Leonard Bernstein and David Chalmin, “Amoria” a journey to their Basque roots covering five centuries of music, “Moondog”, a tribute to Louis Thomas Hardin, one of the true geniuses of his time. They just released a new album “El Chan” dedicated entirely to American composer Bryce Dessner, including his Concerto for two pianos with Orchestre de Paris conducted by Matthias Pintscher. The album is dedicated to the film director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritú, who created the album cover artwork.

Most recent performances include concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Camerata Salzburg, Elb Philharmonie Hamburg and Thom Yorke, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Semyon Bychkov, Dresden Staatskapelle at Easter Festival Salzburg with Andres Orozco-Estrada , Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic, including return visits to the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl and Cincinnati Symphony. At the invitation of the Philharmonie Hall in Paris for a special “Week End”, attention was focused on “Amoria”, “Invocations” and their new project for two guitars and two pianos with David Chalmin and Bryce Dessner including a piece written for them by Thom Yorke “Don’t fear the Light” with Thom Yorke as special guest.

Semyon Bychkov  conductor
Semyon Bychkov

Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov was born in Leningrad in 1952, immigrated to the United States in 1975, and has been based in Europe since the mid-1980s. Like the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the cultures both of the East and the West.

Following his early concerts with the Czech Philharmonic in 2013, Bychkov and the Orchestra devised The Tchaikovsky Project, a series of concerts, residencies and studio recordings which allowed them the luxury of exploring Tchaikovsky’s music together. Its first fruit was released by Decca in October 2016, followed in August 2017 by the release of the Manfred symphony. The project culminates in 2019 with residencies in Prague, Vienna and Paris, and Decca’s release of all Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini.

Fourteen years after leaving the former Soviet Union, Bychkov returned to St Petersburg in 1989 as the Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, the same year as he was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. His international career had taken off several years earlier when a series of high-profile cancellations resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1997, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and the following year, Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.

Bychkov conducts the major orchestras and at the major opera houses in the U.S. and Europe. In addition to his title with the Czech Philharmonic, he holds the Günter Wand Conducting Chair with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he appears annually at the BBC Proms, and the honorary Klemperer Chair of Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. He was named “Conductor of the Year” at the 2015 International Opera Awards. On the concert platform, the combination of innate musicality and rigorous Russian pedagogy has ensured that Bychkov’s performances are highly anticipated. With repertoire that spans four centuries, the coming season brings two weeks of concerts with the New York Philharmonic, which includes the US première of Thomas Larcher’s Symphony No. 2, and the Cleveland Orchestra where he will conduct Detlev Glanert, Martinů and Smetana. In Europe, his concerts include performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Royal Concertgebouw.

Bychkov’s recording career began in 1986 when he signed with Philips and began a significant collaboration which produced an extensive discography with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Subsequently a series of benchmark recordings – the result of his 13-year collaboration (1997–2010) with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne – include a complete cycle of Brahms’s Symphonies, and works by Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, Detlev Glanert and York Höller. His recording of Wagner’s Lohengrin was voted BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year in 2010; and his recent recording of Schmidt’s Symphony No. 2 with the Vienna Philharmonic was selected as BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month.

Compositions

Bryce Dessner — Symphonic composition for orchestra

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 10 in E Flat Major for two pianos and orchestra, K 365

Antonín Dvořák — Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (“From the New World”)

Počátkem 90. let stál Dvořák na vrcholu svých uměleckých sil a byl již světově uznávaným skladatelem. Dostával nabídky na vytvoření skladeb, na koncertní turné či na posty učitelské a ředitelské. Génius Antonín Dvořák se postupně vypracoval z „pouhého“ českého skladatele na skladatele světového, kterého vydávaly renomované nakladatelské domy a s kterým se přátelil Brahms či Čajkovskij.

Symfonie č. 9 e moll „Z Nového světa“ představuje vrcholné mistrovské dílo, kombinující dosavadní Dvořákovy postupy v kompozici. Psát cokoli o ní se zdá být vzhledem k jejímu častému provozování nadbytečné. Dílo se od svého prvního uvedení stalo nesmírně populárním a v roce 1969 si vzal s sebou nahrávku symfonie americký kosmonaut Neil Armstrong při první cestě člověka na měsíc. Pro Dvořáka se stalo vytvoření tohoto díla však také jakýmsi symbolem jeho vlastní první cesty za oceán, do Nového světa. V roce 1892 přijímá pozvání do Spojených států a na tři roky se stává ředitelem Národní konzervatoře v New Yorku. Po krátké době pobytu za mořem, v zimě 1893, začíná pracovat na své další, v pořadí již deváté symfonii. Je na ní znát, jak silně na skladatele Amerika zapůsobila, zároveň však zůstává dílem českého mistra na vrcholu tvůrčích sil. Novosvětská měla být důkazem skladatelovy teorie o možnostech využití charakteristických prvků černošské a indiánské hudby pro vznik tzv. americké národní školy, která v době Dvořákova pobytu ve Spojených státech fakticky neexistovala. 

Odborníci vedou již více než sto let debaty o tom, zda Dvořák v symfonii použil konkrétní nápěvy černošských písní či nikoliv. Dvořák sám se k této věci vyjádřil rozporuplně. Jednou tvrdil: „Právě dokončuji novou Sinfonii e moll. Dělá mi velkou radost a bude se od mých dřívějších lišit velice podstatně. Inu, vliv Ameriky, každý kdo má ‚čuch‘, musí vycítit.“ Podruhé se vyjádřil zdánlivě protikladně: „Je to a zůstane to pořád českou muzikou.“ Každopádně konkrétní melodie vědomě nepřebíral: „Je to jen duch černošských a indiánských melodií, jejž jsem se snažil reprodukovat ve své nové symfonii. Neupotřebil jsem jediné z oněch melodií.“  Otázkou také zůstává, do jaké míry mohl vlastně Dvořák za tak krátkou dobu pobytu v Americe původní americkou hudbu opravdu poznat, a nakolik bylo pouze jeho přáním vytvořit něco pro Ameriku, která se k němu v počátcích tak štědře zachovala a která ho jistě velmi fascinovala. Dirigent Leonard Bernstein označil dílo jako skutečně mezinárodní ve své podstatě. Navzdory všem těmto dohadům má 9. symfonie asi mnohem více společného s českou hudbou než s hudbou americkou. Stavebně se vyznačuje velmi přesnou, téměř učebnicovou formou jednotlivých vět.

Podvědomě však Dvořák minimálně jednu ze známých melodií „odcitoval“, vždyť téma z první věty symfonie připomíná nápadně černošský spirituál Swing Low Sweet Chariot.  Druhá věta Largo je zase možná inspirována Písní o Hiawathovi. Tato rozsáhlá básnická skladba amerického básníka Henryho Wadswortha Longfellowa čerpá z příběhů o legendárním indiánském náčelníkovi Hiawathovi a její významnou složkou jsou také působivé popisy přírodních krás divoké americké přírody. Hlavní téma slavného Dvořákova Larga – široká, vznešeně prostá melodie (přednášená anglickým rohem na pozadí sordinovaných smyčců) – má možná svůj předobraz v putování Hiawathy a jeho ženy Minnehahy rozlehlou, nedotčenou americkou krajinou. Střední část věty může být zase odrazem nálady ve scéně pohřbu Minnehahy. Třetí věta symfonie má pak podle skladatele také „něco z indiánského charakteru“. V závěrečné čtvrté větě Dvořák kombinuje všechna témata z celé symfonie. Toto perfektní zvládnutí formy ve spojitosti s nápaditou melodikou, harmonií a instrumentačním mistrovstvím tvoří dohromady skutečně geniální jedinečné dílo. Závěrem uveďme citát z New York Times z roku 1893:  „My, Američané, bychom měli děkovat tomuto českému mistru a ctít ho za to, že nám ukázal, jak máme zacházet s naším vlastním hudebním dědictvím.