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

The Czech Phil: Live in your living room I

John Eliot Gardiner

Czech Philharmonic

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.

Czech Philharmonic
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
29 Nov 2020  Sunday — 8.15pm
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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 clearly belongs to the most significant personalities of the emerging generation of European pianists. A Brno native, he practiced his piano skills with Inessa Janíčková at the Brno Conservatoire as well as at Janáček Academy of Arts. Today he has an imposing list of successful recitals behind him (Europe, America, Japan) as well as numerous excellent recordings.
The most interesting include solo projects (Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Beethoven, Dvořák, Ježek, Janáček, Martinů) as well as a four-hand version of Janáček's overture Jealousy realized together with Rudolf Firkušný. His discography was recently also complemented by notable recordings of Dvořák's Slavonic Dances and Smetana's My Country in the four-hand version with his life- and artistic partner, wife Renata Ardaševová.

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 Republicʼs 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 Concertino Praga and, in 2004, the Prague Spring International Music Competition. 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, and others).

After his successful debuts at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn and the Prague Spring Festival in Prague Kahánek was invited to perform Martinůʼs Fourth Piano Concerto (“Incantations”) at the 2007 Proms Festival with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiří Bělohlávek. The performance was broadcast live by the BBC as well as the Czech National Radio station “Vltava”. This truly memorable Proms debut is currently available on Deutsche Grammophon as a digital download.

In 2014, Kahánek was selected by Sir Simon Rattle to perform two critically acclaimed concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic. He is 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 recently appeared with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Glasgow, Essener Symphoniker, WDR Cologne, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Brno Philharmonic and many others. He has collaborated with some of the world’s greatest conductors, including maestros Semyon Bychkov, Jakub Hrůša, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Rafael Payare, Pinchas Steinberg, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jiří Bělohlávek, Tomáš Netopil, Andrey Boreyko, Libor Pešek or Zdeněk Mácal. A passionate chamber musician, he has worked with other instrumentalists, including violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Alissa Weilerstein, violist Paul Neubauer, and the Pavel Haas and Tetzlaff Quartets, or the soprano Martina Janková and tenor Pavel Černoch.

In 2020 he will be touring the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, and elsewhere, presenting himself as a soloist in piano concertos by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonín Dvořák, Bohuslav Martinů, and Béla Bartók accompanied by the Czech Philharmonic, the Essen Philharmonic, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, and other orchestras. In addition, of course, he will be giving many recitals in cities including Berlin, London, Jeddah, Bratislava, and Prague. He will also appear at international festivals including the BBC Proms (London), the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival, Smetanaʼs Litomyšl and in the subscription series of such orchestras as the Czech Philharmonic, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in Pardubice, and the Slovak State Philharmonic in Košice.

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. A recording of songs by Martinů with singers Martina Janková and Tomáš Král was awarded the prestigious Diapason d’Or and the Selection of the month in the Opernwelt and Opera News magazines. 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, Choix de Classique HD, and it was also the recording of the week on BBC Radio 3. At the same time it was included in the nominations for the ICMA Award as well as the BBC Music Magazine Award. He also regularly appears on both Czech Radio and Czech Television.

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
conductor

In spite of his age, the conductor and horn player Ondřej Vrabec (born 1979) is one of the most seasoned Czech artists. Though the majority of his recent musical activities is represented by conducting, he benefits from his rich artistic experience derived from intensive concert career of a soloist, chamber and orchestra player dated long before the threshold of his adulthood. He joined the horn section of the Czech Philharmonic at the young age of seventeen to be definitely appointed its solo horn player two years later.

He is a graduate of the Prague Conservatory (horn – Bedřich Tylšar, conducting – Vladimír Válek, Hynek Farkač, Miriam Němcová, Miroslav Košler) and of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (conducting – Radomil Eliška, Jiří Bělohlávek, František Vajnar and others). He has complemented his studies with frequent master courses (such as the London Master Classes and HornClass); the most precious impulse for forming his artistic approach was the cooperation with the elite of the world wind instrument school (Sergio Azzolini, Maurice Bourgue) and the artistic support of several prominent contemporary conductors (Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Jiří Bělohlávek, Benjamin Zander, among others).

Ondřej Vrabec was the absolute winner of the Competition of Conservatories in Ostrava and a finalist of several other chamber music competitions (Concertino Praga, Mozart Society Competition, etc.) In 2007, he ranked fourth in the Prague Spring International Conducting Competition and won an honorable mention from the jury as well as two other special awards for the most successful Czech participant. In 2015, he was a finalist of the Tokyo International Conducting Competition and earned an honorable mention. As a soloist he has performed with many Czech and foreign orchestras (such as the Czech Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Chamber Orchestra, Solistes Européens Luxembourg, NCPA Orchestra Beijing, Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Košice Philharmonic Orchestra, Rzeszow Philharmonic and Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra) under the direction of world-famous conductors such as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Edo de Waart, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ian Volkov and Lü Jia. He also often gives solo recitals.

He is an active chamber musician (especially with the Brahms Trio Prague and the PhilHarmonia Octet and formerly with the Maurice Bourgue Ensemble, the Juventus Quintet and the Czech Philharmonic Horn Club). He has made many recordings for Czech Radio and released a number of gramophone titles. The profile compact disc of the Brahms Trio Prague, realized in a unique manner under the music and sound direction of Ondřej Vrabec himself, has met with many positive responses of critics both at home and abroad. A reviewer of the prestigious American Fanfare Magazine called this recording of Trio in E flat major, Op. 40 by Johannes Brahms “the best I know...”

As a conductor, Ondřej Vrabec regularly collaborates with leading Czech orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic, where he is the Assistant to the Chief Conductor. As such, he was actually the most frequently performing conductor of the Czech Philharmonic after Jiří Bělohlávek. He also conducted some foreign orchestras (such as the Japan Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra, Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra Košice, Galeria Wind Orchestra Tokyo, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, State Philharmonic Oradea, Uzhgorod Philharmonic and Lviv Virtuosos Academic Chamber Orchestra) and has appeared at international festivals such as the Prague Spring, Mitte Europa, and Český Krumlov. He is a permanent member of the team of conductors of the Ostrava Days International New Music Festival, one of the biggest contemporary music events around the globe. His opera performances include world premieres of operas Lists of Infinity by Martin Smolka and Encounter by Mojiao Wang and also two complete productions ofLe nozze di Figaro at the Opera in Ústí nad Labem and at the Prague Comedy Theater. Together with the legendary choreographer Yuri Vámos he prepared a ballet version of The Midsummer Night Dream for the National Moravian-Silesian Theater. He led the Prague Philharmonia’s historic first tour to South Korea (2011) and China (2012–2013).

In association with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra he has recorded three CDs, namely the complete symphonic works by British composer Andrew Downes (Artesmon / Czech Philharmonic), Planets by Gustav Holst and Symphony No. 2 by Arthur Honegger (Octavia Records, Japan). He has recorded a DVD Metamorphoses from his tour with the Czech Philharmonic Collegium and the popular group Čechomor (Album of the Year 2002 – Universal Music) and a CD with concertos for violin and viola by Karl Stamitz with Gabriela Demeterová (Supraphon). He also leads rehearsals of the Czech Philharmonic on behalf of world-famous maestros (Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Manfred Honeck, Jiří Bělohlávek).

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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