Slavonic Dances, Op. 46
Rondo for Cello and Orchestra in G Minor, Op. 94
Lachian Dances (selection)
Hungarian Dances (selection)
Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor
Vilém Vlček received his first cello lessons at the age of six from Martin Škampa. In 2010 he enrolled in the class of Martin and Mirko Škampa at the Academic Secondary School of Music in Prague. Since then he has participated in master classes of Frans Helmerson, Alisa Weilerstein, Danjulo Ishizaka, Denis Severin, Jakob Koranyi, Michal Kaňka, Tomáš Jamník and others. Since 2018 he has been studying in the class of Danjulo Ishizaka at the Musik-Akademie Basel.
Vilém’s first significant achievement was first prize in the National Competition of Elementary Music Schools in 2008, followed by first prizes at other national and international competitions such as the Wettbewerb Violoncello in Liezen, Austria (2010, 2012), Talents for Europe in Dolný Kubín, Slovakia (2010), Heran Cello Competition (laureate title, 2013), National Competition of Czech Conservatories (absolute winner in cello, 2014), Concertino Praga (laureate and EMCY prize together with the pianist Ondřej Zavadil, 2015), Jan Vychytil Cello Competition (absolute winner, 2017) and Bohuslav Martinů Foundation Competition (laureate, 2017). In 2018 he became the winner of the Interpretation Competition of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and a laureate of the International Music Competition Beethovenʼs Hradec.
He has performed as a soloist with many renowned orchestras such as the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, North Bohemian Philharmonic Orchestra of Teplice, Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, Württemberg Philharmonic Orchestra, Kaunas Symphony Orchestra, Europera Youth Orchestra and Zielona Gora Philharmonic Orchestra, and collaborated with conductors such as Jiří Bělohlávek, Petr Altrichter, Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, Jiří Rožeň, David Švec and Nicolas Ellis.
Since August 2016, he has been a member of the LGT Young Soloists, with whom he appeared at nearly 50 concerts in Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, United Arab Emirates, Germany, China, Singapore, USA, France and Israel.
Vilém Vlček plays a cello made in 1754 by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini kindly on loan from the State Collection of Musical Instruments.
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 he played musical instruments from a young age. Having graduated from the conservatoire in Ostrava as a French horn player and conductor, he continued his studies at the JanáčekAcademy of the Performing Arts in Brno in the fields of orchestral conducting under the guidance of Otakar Trhlík and František Jílek and choral conducting with the teachers Josef Veselka and Lubomír Mátl. After his studies in Brno, he worked as a choirmaster and conductor with the Brno Academic Choir, and he played a part in the earning of many prizes at foreign choral competitions and festivals (Middlesbrough, Debrecen…).
Maestro Altrichter attracted international attention in 1976, when he earned the title of laureate and a special prize from the jury at the renowned conducting competition in Besançon, France. On the basis of that prize, he became Václav Neumann’s assistant conductor with the Czech Philharmonic, and he started his own artistic career. Not long after that, he began to receive invitations to conduct orchestras abroad. After a period of activity with the Brno Philharmonic, in 1988 he became a conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and in 1990 he became its principal conductor. With that orchestra, he made frequent foreign tours to Japan, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and other countries. At the same time, he was engaged in long-term collaboration with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in Pardubice, with which he often gave performances abroad introducing appearances with many gifted young soloists (such as Isabelle van Keulen and Radek Baborák) who are now firmly established on concert stages around the world.
From 1993, he was the music director of the Southwest German Philharmonic Orchestra of Constance, with which he gave concerts regularly at the Tonhalle in Zurich and at the KKL in Lucerne, and he also toured Switzerland and Italy. Petr Altrichter made his debut in the United Kingdom with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993, and his London debut with the English Chamber Orchestra followed soon thereafter. In 1997 he was appointed as the principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic after having guest conducted the orchestra with great success during the previous season. He also made an appearance with that orchestra in 2000 at the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and he made a number of highly acclaimed recordings for the orchestra’s own label – RLPO Live.
In 2001 Altrichter was invited to take the helm of the Brno Philharmonic, and he remained there for seven years, returning to the orchestra with which he had been associated since his student days, and he still continues to guest conduct there regularly. He is also a regular guest of the Czech Philharmonic, with which he has maintained a steady artistic relationship since his beginnings there as an assistant, and of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic, and the Slovak Philharmonic, with which he recorded a warmly received award-winning CD with repertoire by Antonín Dvořák. Since the 2018/2019 season, he has been a permanent guest conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic, with which he has been working for many years.
In 2015 he toured Germany with the Czech Philharmonic, 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 Music 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, and on May 2019 he toured with the Czech Philharmonic in China.
He has guest conducted major orchestras abroad 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. Among the orchestras he has guest conducted are the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Krakow Philharmonic, 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, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen, and the Odense Symphony Orchestra.
The festivals at which he is a frequent guest include 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. Important soloists and performers from around the world (Garrick Ohlsson, John Lill, Tabea Zimmermann…) value his flexibility in leading orchestral accompaniments, and they seek out collaboration with him.
Antonín Dvořák composed his Slavonic Dances upon commission from the Berlin publisher Fritz Simrock who had already achieved considerable commercial success with Dvořák’s Moravian Duets. Simrock wanted him to compose a set of pieces for piano four hand which would be a Czech counterpart to Johannes Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. Dvořák, however, reached out for inspiration to the whole Slavic world. His series of dances represents the idea of Pan-Slavism, i.e., the idea of Slavic reciprocity which was widely spread among intellectuals from the defeated Slavic nations in the late 19th century. Dvořák worked on these eight piano pieces from March to May 1878. The series was a great success, and Simrock therefore asked Dvořák for its orchestration. The orchestral version was met with even greater enthusiasm and marked the beginning of Dvořák’s international fame.
In 1891 Dvořák received an offer to become the Director of the New York Conservatory. After much hesitation he accepted this challenge, exciting both from artistic and financial points of view, and the following year he and his family sailed to the other side of the Atlantic. Just before his departure, Dvořák went on a farewell tour of Bohemian and Moravian cities together with the violinist Ferdinand Lachner and the cellist Hanuš Wihan. For the purposes of this tour he composed Rondo for Cello in G minor, Op. 94 with piano accompaniment. In 1894 he arranged Rondo’s piano accompaniment for small orchestra.
Undoubtedly the most famous opus of Russian composer and acclaimed chemist Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin was his only opera Prince Igor. Its story is based on an Old Russian epic poem The Tale of Igor’s Campaign from the 12th century. Borodin himself wrote the libretto for the opera Prince Igor, showing a considerable literary talent. Igor is a prince of Kievan Rus who sets out on a military campaign against the nomadic Cuman (“Polovtsian”) tribe who are a threat to his country. However, the expedition is unsuccessful and Igor, together with his son Vladimir and all of his entourage, fall into captivity. The Polovtsian leader, Khan Konchak, respects Igor for his military success and wants to become his friend and ally, which Igor refuses. The colorfully instrumented Polovtsian dances are the most impressive number of the entire opera. In them, dancing Polovtsians present to the captured Igor the beauty of women and the bellicosity of men, showering praise on their Khan.
Johannes Brahms was German and had nothing in common with Hungary in terms of his origin. However, in 1850 he became acquainted with the Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi who introduced him to the musical culture in Hungary, including the music of Hungarian Gypsies. Later, the main source of information for Brahms about this area was another Hungarian violinist, Joseph Joachim, who became his long-time close friend and collaborator. Hungarian Dances are Johannes Brahms’s most popular composition in the Hungarian-Gypsy style. They consist of 21 numbers written in 1869 and 1880 originally for piano four hand; later they were arranged for solo piano. Brahms himself subsequently wrote orchestral arrangements for Nos. 1, 3 and 10.
The Moravian composer Leoš Janáček was a devout admirer of Dvořák. Under the influence of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, which he knew very well and which he conducted in Brno, Janáček compiled an orchestral suite of dances from his native region of Lachia (Moravian Wallachia in the Czech part of Silesia). In addition to other activities, Janáček was a musical theorist and folklorist who conducted field research of Moravian, Silesian and Slovak folk songs and dances, reflecting them theoretically and using them as a source of inspiration in his own compositions. Therefore it is no wonder that Janáček, unlike Dvořák, based his orchestral dances directly on the folklore material collected by himself. Janáček was interested not only in the musical structure of the dances, but also in their choreography. He allegedly asked his wife and daughter to learn these dances and perform them when he was composing his Lachian Dances in 1889 and 1890 in order to refresh his memory.
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