Czech Philharmonic management has spoken with Zuzana Růžičková several times about programming some of the works of her husband, Viktor Kalabis. Strážnice Festival is one of his most popular works, and Jakub Hrůša decided to perform it as a tribute to this pair of extraordinary musicians.
Strážnice Festival, a suite for large orchestra, Op. 9
Piano Concerto in G Minor, Op. 33
Symphony No. 5, H 310
Widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time and as a uniquely significant interpreter of piano repertoire from every age, Pierre-Laurent Aimard enjoys an internationally celebrated career.
He performs throughout the world each season with major orchestras under conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Jurowski, Peter Eötvös, Sir Simon Rattle and Riccardo Chailly. He has been invited to create, direct and perform in a number of residencies, with projects at Carnegie Hall, New Yorkʼs Lincoln Center, Viennaʼs Konzerthaus, Berlinʼs Philharmonie, the Lucerne Festival, Mozarteum Salzburg, Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Tanglewood Festival and Londonʼs Southbank Centre. Aimard is also the Artistic Director of the prestigious and historic Aldeburgh Festival. Pierre-Laurent was Artist-in-Residence with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra for the 2015/16 season, performing all of the Beethoven piano concertos under the baton of Philippe Jordan. He remained committed to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries with a major Stockhausen project for Musica Viva in Munich followed by concerts in Paris and Amsterdam, and a performance of Lachenmann’s Ausklang in Luxembourg. Other highlights included solo recitals in Amsterdam, Sydney, Tokyo and London.
Born in Lyon in 1957, Pierre-Laurent Aimard studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Yvonne Loriod and in London with Maria Curcio. Early career landmarks included winning first prize in the 1973 Messiaen Competition and being appointed, three years later, by Pierre Boulez to become the Ensemble intercontemporainʼs first solo pianist.
Aimard has had close collaborations with many leading composers including György Kurtag, Stockhausen, Carter, Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin and had a long association with Ligeti, recording his complete works for piano. Most recently he performed the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Responses: Sweet disorder and the carefully careless, as well as Carter’s last piece Epigrams for piano, cello and violin, which was written for Pierre-Laurent and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2013. Through his professorship at the Hochschule Köln as well as numerous series of concert lectures and workshops worldwide, he sheds an inspiring and very personal light on music of all periods. During the 2008/09 season Aimard was an Associate Professor at the Collège de France, Paris and he is a member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste. He was the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award in spring 2005 and was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America in 2007. In 2015 he launched a major online resource centred on the performance and teaching of Ligeti’s piano music with filmed masterclasses and performances in collaboration with Klavier-Festival Ruhr.
Pierre-Laurent has made many highly successful recordings. His first DG release, Bachʼs Art of Fugue, received both the Diapason dʼOr and Choc du Monde de la Musique awards, debuted at No.1 on Billboardʼs classical chart and topped iTunes’ classical album download chart. In recent years Pierre-Laurent has been honoured with ECHO Klassik Awards, most recently in 2009 for his recording of solo piano pieces, Hommage à Messiaen, a Grammy award in 2005 for his recording of Ives’ Concord Sonata and Songs and he was also presented with Germany’s Schallplattenkritik Honorary Prize in 2009. Further releases for DG – of The Liszt Project in 2011 and Debussy Préludes in 2012 – were joined by a new recording of Bach’s Wohl Tempered Klavier Book 1, which was released in 2014.
“The Czech Philharmonic is very close to my heart artistically and personally. With the leading orchestra of our country, I have repeatedly experienced moments of beauty and deep feeling on the podium. I regard it as an honor that I may continue to be a part of the innermost musical family of the Czech Philharmonic, now alongside the new Chief Conductor, Semyon Bychkov, and together with my wonderful colleague Tomáš Netopil. I am looking forward to our joint projects, whether they will involve performing the classics from this country and around the world or excursions into the realm of lesser-known repertoire and contemporary music. It is my wish that together, our whole institution might continue successfully and harmoniously along the artistic path begun by Jiří Bělohlávek.“
Jakub Hrůša made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic in 2004 when he stepped in at short notice to conduct a programme of Janáček, Martinů and Dvořák. He had just graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague where Jiří Bělohlávek was amongst his teachers. Hrůša has subsequently conducted the Orchestra in forty concerts at home and on tour and, at the start of the 2015/16 season was appointed Permanent Guest Conductor. This season he conducts the opening concerts of the Czech Philharmonic season and has been named Principal Guest Conductor with effect from the 2018/19 season.
A regular guest with leading orchestras in both Europe and the USA, Jakub Hrůša is also Chief Conductor of Bamberg Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. He served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of PKF – Prague Philharmonia from 2009 to 2015. Recent orchestral highlights include debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, as well as return engagements with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. This season he will make his debuts with the San Francisco Symphony and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras.
Equally at home in operatic repertoire, Hrůša is a regular guest of the National Theatre in Prague and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and between 2010 and 2012 he was Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour. For Glyndebourne Festival, he has conducted Janáček‘s The Cunning Little Vixen, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Turn of the Screw, Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Puccini’s La bohème. Elsewhere he has conducted Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair (Wiener Staatsoper), Jenůfa (Finnish National Opera), and Dvořák’s Rusalka (Opéra national de Paris), alongside works by Puccini (Il trittico for Oper Frankfurt) and Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov for Royal Danish Opera). During the 2017/18 season, he returns to Opéra national de Paris for Lehár’s The Merry Widow, makes his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Bizet’s Carmen, and conducts a new production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa for Glyndebourne Festival.
In the studio, Jakub Hrůša has recorded the Tchaikovsky and Bruch Violin Concertos with the Czech Philharmonic and Nicola Benedetti for Universal; live recordings for Octavia Records of works by Berlioz, Strauss and Suk with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra; three discs for Pentatone with PKF-Prague Philharmonia; and six discs of Czech music for Supraphon. Marking the start of his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Hrůša and the Orchestra recorded Smetana’s Má vlast, the first disc in a new partnership with Tudor.
In recognition of his championing of Janáček’s music abroad, Jakub Hrůša was awarded the inaugural Sir Charles Mackerras Prize. He is also President of the International Martinů Circle.
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