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Juanjo Mena, the Spanish conductor at the helm of the BBC Philharmonic, is taking us on a trip to Spain, blazing with colours, sounds, and fragrances. The programme opens with Danzas fantásticas (1919), the best-known work by Joaquín Turina.
Danzas fantásticas, op. 22
Concierto de Aranjuez (arranged for harp)
Iberia, Part II of the cycle Images pour orchestre
Jana Boušková harp
Juanjo Mena conductor
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Juanjo Mena, the Spanish conductor at the helm of the BBC Philharmonic, is taking us on a trip to Spain, blazing with colours, sounds, and fragrances. The programme opens with Danzas fantásticas (1919), the best-known work by Joaquín Turina. Although originally written for piano solo, it is the orchestral version that has become famous.
Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez takes us to the gardens of the royal palace in Aranjuez, which King Philip II had built in the sixteenth century. Rodrigo perfectly succeeded at evoking the sounds of nature through music. He describes the first movement as being “full of rhythm and energy”, the second movement is a dialogue between the harp and soloists in the orchestra on oboe, bassoon, English horn, and French horn. The third movement is an imitation of a courtly dance. The premières took place in 1940 in Barcelona and Madrid with solo guitar. It was not until 1974 that Rodrigo transcribed the work for harp at the request of Nicanor Zabaleta. Famous versions of the Concierto de Aranjuez have also been recorded by flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía and jazz trumpet player Miles Davis, who took inspiration from the slow movement.
Iberia from Debussy’s orchestral work Images leads us through the streets and the paths of Spain, the fragrances of the night, and the morning of a festive day. The concert will then conclude with one of the most famous compositions, Ravel’s Bolero. It would not have taken much and this classical “hit” might never have seen the light of day. At the request of Ida Rubinstein, Ravel had originally just wanted to orchestrate Albéniz’s Iberia, but he was long unable to acquire the rights to it. By the time he finally succeeded, Ravel already had a different plan: “Write a theme that lasts about a minute and repeat it for eighteen minutes.”
Jana Boušková studied at the Prague Conservatory and graduated from the Ostrava University in Libuše Váchová’s class. She was then accepted to the prestigious Indiana University and studied with Susann McDonald. She is the only Czech harpist to win the world’s top International Harp Competition which takes place in the USA (1992). In the same year, she won the 2nd prize at the International Harp Contest in Israel, which has the longest tradition among harp competitions, being also the only Czech harpist to be invited to this competition. She also won the Concours International de Musique de Chambre (France) and the Torneo Internazionale di Musica (Italy). She received the “Lady Pro” award for the top ten most significant Czech female personalities as the first ever classical musician.
Jana Boušková performs as a soloist and with chamber ensembles in the Czech Republic and abroad at prestigious concert stages such as the Alice Tully Hall – Lincoln Center (New York), the Theatre Châtelet in Paris, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Prague Spring Festival and the Berliner Festtage. As a soloist she has appeared with many Czech and international orchestras at the Carnegie Hall in New York, Berlin Philharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Symphony Center in Chicago, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Rudolfinum in Prague and many others.
Besides the solo career Jana Boušková devotes herself to pedagogical activity and teaches simultaneously at the Royal Academy in Brussels and at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She is the Czech Philharmonic principal harp player and is being regularly invited to participate in world renowned harp congresses and symposiums and leads masterclasses all over the world. She teaches at prestigious schools including the Indiana University in the USA and Haute Ecole de Musique in Geneva.
The vast repertoire of Jana Boušková includes compositions of all eras. Numerous Czech and foreign contemporary composers have written music directly for her. She has recorded more than twenty CDs for Czech and international labels and made recordings for radio and television companies. Jana Boušková is the official player of the prestigious Lyon & Healy harp producer and plays the instrument by this US company, which she won in the International Harp Competition in 1992.
One of Spain’s most distinguished international conductors, Juanjo Mena is currently Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival. He has been Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, Artistic Director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Chief Guest Conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked with many prestigious orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Bamberger Symphoniker, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as with all the major orchestras in Spain.
He has conducted most of the leading orchestras in North America, including the Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
A guest of international festivals, he has appeared at the Stars of White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Hollywood Bowl, Grant Park (Chicago), Tanglewood and La Folle Journée (Nantes). He has led the BBC Philharmonic on tours of Europe and Asia, including performances in Cologne, Munich, Vienna, Madrid, Beijing and Seoul, and annual concerts at the BBC Proms in London.
His operatic work includes The Flying Dutchman, Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Fidelio and Erwartung and productions including Eugene Onegin in Genoa, The Marriage of Figaro in Lausanne and Billy Budd in Bilbao.
He has made several recordings with the BBC Philharmonic, including recent releases of Ginastera’s orchestral works to mark the composer’s centenary, three discs of works by Manuel de Falla, one of which was a BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month, a Gabriel Pierné release which was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice, and works by Albéniz, Arriaga, Montsalvatge, Weber and Turina which have gained excellent reviews from the specialist music press. He has also recorded Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony for Hyperion with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, an interpretation which is said to “utterly redefine the terms under which past/current/future Turangalîlas need to be judged”. (Gramophone, October 2012).
Highlights of Maestro Mena’s 2020-21 season include return visits to the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Bamberger Symphoniker, NHK Tokyo, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Exotická barevnost, nezvyklá harmonie a ohnivá rytmika hudby Pyrenejského poloostrova okouzlovala francouzské tvůrce také následujících generací, zvláště ty ovlivněné uměleckým světem impresionismu. Stopy iberských inspirací nalezneme mimo jiné v takových významných dílech, jako byly orchestrální triptych Images a klavírní cyklus Estampes Clauda Debussyho či orchestrální skladby Maurice Ravela Španělská rapsodie a Bolero, které je též na programu dnešního koncertu.
Ke kompozici díla vycházejícího z rytmu španělského tance nasměrovala Ravela, který sám byl po matce Bask, tanečnice Ida Rubinstein, která si u něj v roce 1928 objednala pro svou baletní společnost orchestraci šesti kusů z cyklu klavírních skladeb Iberia španělského impresionisty Isaaca Albénize. V průběhu práce se Ravel dozvěděl, že orchestrální verze již existuje a autorská práva neumožňují vznik jiných aranží. Autor této úpravy, španělský dirigent Enrique Fernández Arbós, sice nadšeně udělil Ravelovi souhlas s instrumentováním, Ravel se ale mezitím rozhodl zkomponovat pro Idu Rubinstein vlastní skladbu v rytmu španělského tance bolera.
Mimořádně úspěšná premiéra baletního představení v choreografii Bronislavy Nižinské se konala v pařížské opeře 22. listopadu 1928 a předznamenala nesmírnou popularitu, jíž se toto Ravelovo dílo dodnes těší. Skladba je založena na ostinátním rytmu malého bubnu. Nad tímto rytmem se střídají dvě melodie, které v nezměněné podobě prostupují celým dílem – jedna diatonická a rytmicky symetrická, druhá se synkopami a jazzově sníženými tóny. Zaznívají ovšem v obměňované instrumentaci a v neustále zesilované dynamice a postupně mohutnícím obsazení.