Photo illustrating page  Semyon Bychkov  Czech Philharmonic

Czech Philharmonic • Semyon Bychkov


Czech Philharmonic

Brahms’s German Requiem is a deeply personal work. He began contemplating it already in 1854, when his friend Robert Schumann attempted suicide. Brahms discovered the title two years later in Schumann’s estate. Brahms’s first attempt at composing a Requiem turned into the Piano Concerto in D Minor (1857).

Subscription series C
Duration of the programme 1 hod 20 min

Programme

Johannes Brahms
A German Requiem, Op. 45 (68')

Performers

Chen Reiss soprano
Boris Prýgl bass

Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno
Petr Fiala choirmaster

Semyon Bychkov conductor

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Semyon Bychkov

Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall

17 Jun 2021  Thursday 7.30pm
Cancelled
18 Jun 2021  Friday 7.30pm
Cancelled
19 Jun 2021  Saturday 3.00pm
Cancelled
Price from 220 to 1100 Kč

Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.:  +420 227 059 227

E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer service is available on weekdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.:  +420 227 059 227

E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer service is available on weekdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Brahms’s German Requiem is a deeply personal work. He began contemplating it already in 1854, when his friend Robert Schumann attempted suicide. Brahms discovered the title two years later in Schumann’s estate. Brahms’s first attempt at composing a Requiem turned into the Piano Concerto in D Minor (1857). It was only after the death of Brahms’s mother eight years later that the work was actually composed. It originally had only six movements and was written for baritone, choir, and orchestra. As the fifth movement, Brahms later inserted a soprano solo to the text “I will console you as one is consoled by his mother.”

Brahms himself picked out the texts from Luther’s German translation of the Bible and he avoided the usual liturgical sequence, the Dies Irae, the fury and horror of which had been set to music colourfully by other composers. Rather than emphasising the theme of the Last Judgement, Brahms instead wished to give comfort to those who remained alive. In a letter to Clara Schumann, Brahms actually mentions a “Human Requiem”. The emphasis on the human dimension of music and the content make the German Requiem one of the kindest and most popular compositions of its kind.

The public reacted coolly to a performance of the first three movements in Vienna in 1867, but the premières of six movements in Bremen and then of the complete seven-movement work in Leipzig two years later were received with clear enthusiasm, setting the German Requiem on its way to the hearts of listeners around the world.

Performers

Chen Reiss   soprano
Boris Prýgl  bass
Boris Prýgl

Bass-baritone Boris Prýgl ranks among the most talented Czech young singers. He successfully went through the Young Artists program of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, where he has assumed the roles of Morales in Carmen, Ping in Turandot, the prince Ottokar in Der Freischütz, the Hunter in Rusalka, etc. His artistic commitments in the 2021/2022 season include the roles of Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at the National Theatre in Prague and Don Giovanni at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, a concert with Pretty Yende at the Smetana Hall in Prague, Dvořák's Rusalka (Gamekeeper) with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, an advent recital in Prague, and others.

Boris Prýgl is a laureate of several singing competitions and the absolute winner of the 2015 Antonín Dvořák Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary. In July 2017, he was a finalist of Belvedere and Plácido Domingo’s Operalia. In September 2019, he was granted the award of the then Director of the Vienna State Opera Dominique Meyer at the Stella Maris Vocal Competition. He graduated from the Academy of Music in Bratislava and gained his first stage experience at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.

The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno  choir
The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno

The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno stands at the pinnacle of the field of choral music at home and in a worldwide context. Conductors, orchestras, and soloists who have worked with the choir speak of it in superlatives. Above all, music critics acclaim its compact sound and broad range of expression. The choir appears at most of Europe’s prestigious festivals and at important concerts. Because of its excellence, each year it gives more than 90 concerts at home and abroad. It collaborates with the world’s top orchestras and conductors. It has an extensive discography and has earned a number of important awards: a 2007 Echo Klassik Award from Germany as ensemble of the year, a 2011 Tokusen Award from Japan for a recording of Dvořák’s Requiem, and a 2019 Classic Prague Award in the Vocal Performance category for its interpretation of Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. The man behind the choir’s successes is its founder, choirmaster, and director Petr Fiala. The assistant choirmaster is Michael Dvořák.

Petr Fiala  choirmaster
Petr Fiala

Choirmaster Petr Fiala graduated from the Brno Conservatoire (piano, composition, conducting) and the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in the studio of Jan Kapr. Besides teaching (he has been a professor at the Brno Conservatoire) and composing (he has written about 180 compositions), he has been devoting himself intensively to the work of a choirmaster and conductor for over 50 years. Petr Fiala is a laureate of many national and international competitions. He receives invitations to guest conduct Czech and foreign orchestras and choirs. In 1990 he founded the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno, and under his leadership it has earned itself a place among Europe’s best choral ensembles. In 2009 the Czech Episcopal Conference honoured Fiala with the Order of Sts. Cyril and Methodius for outstanding achievements as a conductor and composer. In 2013 he received the Brno City Prize in the field of music for his many years of artistic activity and for representing the city of Brno, and in 2016 he won the South Bohemia Region Prize for significant representation of the South Bohemia Region in the area of culture.

Semyon Bychkov  conductor
Semyon Bychkov

“This was a testament not only to Mahler, but also to Mr. Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic... this was a moving and intelligent reading of the Resurrection, dramatic in the opening and finale, sweet and playful in the inner movements, and sublime in the setting of Urlicht...”

The New York Times

Semyon Bychkov's tenure as Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic was initiated with concerts in Prague, London, New York and Washington marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovak independence in 2018. Since the culmination of The Tchaikovsky Project in 2019 – a 7-CD box set released by Decca Classics and a series of international residencies – Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic have been focusing on the symphonic works of Mahler with performances and recordings scheduled both at home and abroad.

During the 2021/22 season, Mahler’s First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Symphonies will all be heard internationally including on tour at the Grafenegg Festival in Austria during the summer. The Czech Philharmonic’s 126th season’s subscription concerts in October will open with Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. In the spring, a Czech Festival at Vienna’s Musikverein featuring Smetana’s Má vlast – recorded by Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic during lockdown - alongside works by Kabeláč, Dvořák, Martinů and Janáček will be followed by an extensive European tour including concerts at the Philharmonie in Berlin, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and two concerts at London’s Barbican Centre.

Especially recognised for his interpretations of the core repertoire, Bychkov has also worked closely with many extraordinary contemporary composers including Luciano Berio, Henri Dutilleux and Maurizio Kagel. In recent seasons he has collaborated with René Staar, Thomas Larcher, Richard Dubignon, Detlev Glanert and Julian Anderson, conducting premières of their works with the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms. Highlights of the new season include the German première of Larcher’s Piano Concerto with dedicatee Kirill Gerstein in Berlin, the Czech première of Bryce Dessner’s Mari and the world première of Anderson’s Prague Panoramas, also presented in Prague. The three new works are amongst fourteen commissions initiated by Bychkov at the start of his tenure with the Czech Philharmonic.

In common with the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov has one foot firmly in the culture of the East and the other in the West. Born in St Petersburg in 1952, Bychkov emigrated to the United States in 1975 and has lived in Europe since the mid-1980's. Singled out for an extraordinarily privileged musical education from the age of 5, Bychkov studied piano before winning his place at the Glinka Choir School where, aged 13, he received his first lesson in conducting. He was 17 when he was accepted at the Leningrad Conservatory to study with the legendary Ilya Musin and, within three years had won the influential Rachmaninov Conducting Competition. Denied the prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic, Bychkov left the former Soviet Union.

By the time Bychkov returned to St Petersburg in 1989 as the Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, he had enjoyed success in the US as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic. His international career, which began in France with Opéra de Lyon and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, took off with a series of high-profile cancellations which resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras. In 1989, he was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris; in 1997, Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne; and the following year, Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.

Bychkov’s symphonic and operatic repertoire is wide-ranging. He conducts in all the major houses including La Scala, Opéra national de Paris, Dresden Semperoper, Wiener Staatsoper, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Teatro Real. Madrid. While Principal Guest Conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, his productions of Janáček’s Jenůfa, Schubert’s Fierrabras, Puccini’s La bohème, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov each won the prestigious Premio Abbiati. New productions in Vienna included Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne, Wagner’s Lohengrin and Parsifal, and Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina; while in London, he made his debut with a new production of Strauss’ Elektra, and subsequently conducted new productions of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten and Wagner’s Tannhäuser. Recent productions include Wagner’s Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival and Strauss’s Elektra at the Wiener Staatsoper.

On the concert platform, the combination of innate musicality and rigorous Russian pedagogy has ensured that Bychkov’s performances are highly anticipated. In the UK, in addition to regular performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, his honorary titles at the Royal Academy of Music and the BBC Symphony Orchestra - with whom he appears annually at the BBC Proms – reflect the warmth of the relationships. In Europe, he tours frequently with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Munich Philharmonic, as well as being a frequent guest of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Orchestre National de France and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; in the US, he can be heard with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Symphony, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras. This season, in addition to extensive concert commitments with the Czech Philharmonic, Bychkov's guest conducting engagements include further performances of Mahler’s symphonies with the Orchestre de Paris, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Berlin, Oslo and LA Philharmonic Orchestras, and Strauss’s Elektra at the Opéra national de Paris.

Bychkov made extensive recordings for Philips with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Later, his 13-year collaboration (1997-2010) with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne produced a series of benchmark recordings that included works by Strauss (Elektra, Daphne, Ein Heldenleben, Metamorphosen, Alpensinfonie, Till Eulenspiegel), Mahler (Symphony No. 3, Das Lied von der Erde), Shostakovich (Symphony Nos. 4, 7, 8, 10, 11), Rachmaninov (The Bells, Symphonic Dances, Symphony No. 2), Verdi (Requiem), a complete cycle of Brahms Symphonies, and works by Detlev Glanert and York Höller. His recording of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin was recommended by BBC’s Radio 3’s Building a Library (2020); Wagner’s Lohengrin was BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Year (2010); and Schmidt’s Symphony No. 2 with the Vienna

Philharmonic was BBC Music Magazine’s Record of the Month (2018).

In 2015, Semyon Bychkov was named Conductor of the Year by the International Opera Awards.

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