The Czech Phil: Live in your living room I • John Eliot Gardiner


The first concert of the series Czech Philharmonic Live In Your Living Room will present music by Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek, Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů. One of the brightest stars of the classical music scene will conduct the first and the third composition: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

  • Duration of the programme 1 hod 25 min

Programme

Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek
Symphony in D major (27')

Leoš Janáček
Capriccio for Piano Left Hand and Wind Ensemble (17')

Bohuslav Martinů
Sinfonietta La Jolla for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, H 328 (20')

Performers

Igor Ardašev piano (Janáček)
Ivo Kahánek piano (Martinů)

John Eliot Gardiner conductor (Voříšek, Martinů)
Ondřej Vrabec conductor (Janáček)

Marek Eben presenter

Photo illustrating the event The Czech Phil:  Live in your living room I John Eliot Gardiner

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall


Tickets and contact information

Concert will be broadcast on ČT art and streamed on facebook pages of the Czech Philharmonic and other partners on 29th November at 8.15pm. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland it will be available only on Takt1.

Concert will be broadcast on ČT art and streamed on facebook pages of the Czech Philharmonic and other partners on 29th November at 8.15pm. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland it will be available only on Takt1.

Concert is organized in collaboration with the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation.

Performers

Igor Ardašev  piano
Igor Ardašev

Igor Ardašev has brought international fame to Czech piano art for decades. A philosophically oriented virtuoso, he has given independent recitals, as well as concerts in a duo with his wife, Renata Ardaševová-Lichnovská, within which they play piano four hands or two pianos. He has also performed with prominent Czech and international orchestras (Czech Philharmonic, Prague Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, etc.).

Igor Ardašev studied at the Brno Conservatory and the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (under the tutelage of Inessa Janíčková). From 1989 to 1992, he further honed his skills with Paul Badura-Skoda in Austria and Rudolf Serkin in the USA. In the 1980s and 1990s, he garnered numerous prestigious accolades, including the laureate titles at the P. I. Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Prague Spring International Music Competition, the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and the Concours International Marguerite Long Jacques Thibaud in Paris. Moreover, he came first at the 1990 Maria Callas International Grand Prix in Athens.

Igor Ardašev has been invited to appear at international festivals (Prague Spring, Janáček May, Festspiele Europäische Wochen Passau, Musikfestival Schloss Moritzburg, Rudolf Firkušný Festival, Concentus Moraviae, etc.). He has also devoted to chamber music, regularly collaborating with František Novotný. Highly acclaimed is the album featuring the complete Beethoven sonatas he has made with the violinist Ivan Ženatý. His discography includes recordings of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Janáček’s Jealousy (with Rudolf Firkušný), Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances and Smetana’s My Country arranged for piano (with Renata Ardaševová), and works by Liszt, Martinů, Ježek, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky and Beethoven.

Since 2012, he has taught at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts. In 2019, he received the City of Brno Prize for outstanding achievements in music.

Ivo Kahánek  piano
Ivo Kahánek

A musician of tremendous emotional power, depth and expressiveness, Ivo Kahánek has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting artists of his generation and is the Czech Republic's most acclaimed pianist.  He is universally recognised as one of the foremost interpreters of Romantic piano music and is a particular specialist in Czech repertoire. He possesses a rare gift of creating an immediate and compelling emotional connection with his audiences.

Kahánek came to public attention after winning the Prague Spring International Music Competition in 2004. He was subsequently a prize winner at many other competitions (Maria Canals Piano Competition in Barcelona, Vendome Prize in Vienna, Stiftung Tomassoni Wettbewerb in Cologne, Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Marienbad etc.).

After his successful debuts at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn and the Prague Spring Festival in Prague Kahánek was invited to perform Martinů's Fourth Piano Concerto ("Incantations") at the 2007 Proms Festival with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiří Bělohlávek. In 2014, Kahánek was selected by Sir Simon Rattle to perform two critically acclaimed concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic, becoming only the second Czech pianist after Rudolf Firkušný to perform with this legendary orchestra. Ivo Kahánek performs regularly with the Czech Philharmonic and has also appeared on stage in front of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Glasgow etc.

Ivo Kahánek has already released thirteen CDs on the Supraphon Music label (with which he has an exclusive contract since 2007) of works by Chopin, Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů, Klein, Kabeláč, Francaix, Ibert and more. His most recent recording of the piano concertos by Dvořák and Martinů, where he is accompanied by the Bamberger Philharmoniker under the baton of Jakub Hrůša, was selected as the recording of the month in the BBC Music Magazine, gaining several other awards.

Ivo Kahánek is a graduate of the Janáček Conservatoire in Ostrava, the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

John Eliot Gardiner  conductor
John Eliot Gardiner

Sir John Eliot Gardiner stands as an international leader in today's musical life, respected as one of the world's most innovative and dynamic musicians, constantly at the forefront of enlightened interpretation. His work as Artistic Director of his Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique has marked him out as a central figure in the early music revival and a pioneer of historically informed performance. As a regular guest of the world's leading symphony orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic, Gardiner conducts repertoire from the 17th to the 20th century.

The extent of Gardiner's repertoire is illustrated in the extensive catalogue of award-winning recordings with his own ensembles and leading orchestras on major labels (including Decca, Philips, Erato and 30 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon), as wide-ranging as Mozart, Schumann, Berlioz, Elgar and Kurt Weill, in addition to works by Renaissance and Baroque composers. Since 2005 the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras have recorded on their independent label, Soli Deo Gloria. His many recording accolades include two GRAMMY awards and he has received more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist.

Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras perform regularly at the world's major venues and festivals, including Salzburg, Berlin and Lucerne festivals, Lincoln Center and the BBC Proms where Gardiner has performed over 60 times since his debut in 1968. Gardiner has conducted opera at the Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Opéra national de Paris and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he has appeared regularly since his debut in 1973. From 1983 to 1988 he was artistic director of Opéra de Lyon, where he founded its new orchestra.

Gardiner's book, Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, was published in October 2013 by Allen Lane, leading to the Prix des Muses award (Singer-Polignac). From 2014 to 2017 Gardiner was the first ever President of the BachArchiv Leipzig. Among numerous awards in recognition of his work, Sir John Eliot Gardiner holds honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, the universities of Lyon, Cremona, St Andrews and King’s College, Cambridge where he himself studied and is now an Honorary Fellow; he is also an Honorary Fellow of King's College, London and the British Academy, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, who awarded him their prestigious Bach Prize in 2008. Gardiner was made Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2011 and was given the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2005. In the UK, he was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1990 and awarded a knighthood for his services to music in the 1998 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Ondřej Vrabec  conductor
Ondřej Vrabec

Ondřej Vrabec is an extraordinary figure on the Czech music scene. After over two decades he continues to successfully advance his artistic career as an award-winning conductor, seasoned solo horn player at the Czech Philharmonic, sought-after chamber musician, respected teacher at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and, newly, as Chiefconductor of the Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, supplementing his studies with numerous master classes. As a conductor, Ondřej Vrabec performs with many orchestras around the world (e.g. Japan Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Budapest Dohnányi Orchestra, Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra, London Soloists Chamber Orchestra) as well as in the Czech Republic, including the Czech Philharmonic (chief conductor’s assistant from 2014 to 2017). For many years he was a member of an international team of conductors at the renowned festivals of contemporary music Ostrava Days and NODO.

Compositions

Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek
Symphony in D major

JAN VÁCLAV HUGO VOŘÍŠEK
(1791–1825)

A native of Vamberk, a town in eastern Bohemia, Jan Václav Hugo Voříšek was just getting started as a promising pianist, organist, conductor, and composer, but his career was cut short by tuberculosis, which took his life when he was just 34 years of age. A member of the generation of Czech musicians of the early Romantic period, he went to Vienna, as Jan Ladislav Dusík and Václav Jan Tomášek had done, and there he furthered his education and also gained access to the right musical and societal circles. As a performer and a concert organiser, he was deeply committed to the development of Vienna’s concert life, and in his efforts he always supported his Czech compatriots and their music. In ca. 1820 he was regarded as one of the best pianists in Vienna, and most of his preserved mature works for piano are dated from that period. In 1821 he composed his Symphony in D Major, his only work in the symphonic genre. Stylistically, he combines Beethoven’s Classicism and Schubert’s early Romanticism, and his wealth of melodic invention is especially close to Schubert’s style.

Leoš Janáček
Capriccio for Piano Left Hand and Wind Ensemble

LEOŠ JANÁČEK
(1854–1928)

To those who survived the First World War, the martial rhetoric that many politicians and journalists are using today in reference to the Covid pandemic surely would have sounded like blasphemy. The terrible military conflict destroyed tens of millions of lives and completely overthrew the Old World. Of course, the war did not only kill; it also maimed people and utterly changed their lives. This was also the case with Otakar Hollmann (1894–1967), who had studied violin and composition in Vienna before the war. His age meant that he was perfect cannon fodder – at the front in 1916, his right wrist was severely wounded, and that left him permanently disabled, ending his violin playing. Hollmann did not give up, however, and in Prague after the war he began studying piano with Adolf Mikeš and composition with Vítězslav Novák. He was not satisfied with arrangements of piano music originally intended for two hands, so he approached contemporary Czechoslovak composers with a request for repertoire for the left hand. (He was far from being the only person in this situation – there was also, for example, the Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, for whom Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, and Maurice Ravel composed works.) Among the composers who ultimately complied with Hollmann’s request were Václav Kaprál, Erwin Schulhoff, Josef Bohuslav Foerster, and Bohuslav Martinů. Leoš Janáček (1854–1928) initially reacted bluntly to the request for a composition for a one-handed pianist: “Childish – what do you want to play with one hand? Dancing is hard for someone who only has one leg!” However, in the half year after completion of the Sinfonietta, from the spring until the autumn of 1926, a work was maturing within Janáček, and in spite of it being limited to the pianist’s left hand, it has not fallen to the wayside as a curiosity, but has maintained its place in the concert repertoire to this day. In a letter dated 11 November 1926, Janáček told Hollmann: “I’ve composed a Capriccio. You know, writing for just one hand was almost like a childish prank. It was necessary to find other reasons and motivations that are substantial and inwardly felt. When these reasons and motivations arrived and clashed with each other – then a work came into being.” In his letters to Kamila Stösslová, Janáček referred to the work with the title Vzdor (Defiance), and this is where we must look for the composition’s aforementioned internal motivation: Janáček’s protest against the senselessness and horrors of war. The work’s hero, embodied by the piano, struggles defiantly against one of war’s evils. In the four-movement composition, the piano plays in equal partnership with flute (piccolo), two trumpets, three trombones (instruments with valves are preferred because of the rapid passagework), and a tenor tuba, for which the composer permitted French horn as a substitute. The unusual instrumentation may have been an evocation of military music. The Capriccio was premiered on 2 March 1928 in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House with Otakar Hollmann joined by seven members of the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Jaroslav Řídký. Janáček, who was in attendance for the rehearsals and premiere of his Capriccio, commented with his typical Brno sense of humour that the trombone players of the famed Czech Philharmonic were forced to practise their parts at home.

Bohuslav Martinů
Sinfonietta La Jolla pro klavír a komorní orchestr H 328

BOHUSLAV MARTINŮ
1890–1959

After the troops of Nazi Germany occupied Paris in 1940, Bohuslav Martinů left the city where he had been residing since 1923 and moved to the south of France. For some time, he remained in Aix-en-Provence, but later he and his wife departed for Portugal, and after a three-month wait, they managed to board one of the last ships to America. In the New World, a new stage of the Czech composer’s creative life began.

After the Second World War ended, Bohuslav Martinů was filled with hope that he would soon be returning to his homeland, where he had been offered a professorship to teach an advanced course in composition at the Prague Conservatoire. As it turned out, unfortunately, those hopes were in vain. The world began to change after the war, and before long the Iron Curtain divided Europe, so Martinů never saw Czechoslovakia again (where musicologists and music critics had been engaging in personal attacks on him). In America, he began to feel frustration and isolation from his European friends. He further postponed a permanent return to Europe, however, because in 1948 he accepted the attractive offer to teach composition at Princeton University, a prestigious school in New Jersey where he became a very popular teacher. At this time, he wrote his Sinfonietta La Jolla for piano and chamber orchestra, H 328 (1950), which is usually regarded as the last work of Martinů’s Neoclassical creative period, the beginnings of which already appear in the 1930s. The composition was commissioned by the Musical Arts Society of La Jolla, a town on the California coast. Although Sinfonietta La Jolla, with its classical three-movement slow-fast-slow structure, is designated as a composition for piano and orchestra, it is by no means a concerto – here, instead of serving as a solo instrument, the piano plays the role of a prominent member of a chamber ensemble, adding a noteworthy tone colour to the orchestra as a whole. The Musical Arts Society was satisfied with the work they had commissioned; the successful premiere of the Sinfonietta took place on 13 August 1950 in La Jolla, and a recording of the work was issued soon thereafter.

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