Czech Philharmonic • Concert for subscribers


Eight concerts and one public dress rehearsal – the Czech Phil’s gift to its subscribers who stayed with the orchestra in the 125th season through all the cancelled concerts and TV broadcasts, who kept their fingers crossed and sent beautiful supportive messages. Tickets are available also for general public.

  • Duration of the programme 1 hours

Programme

Dmitri Shostakovich
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102 (20')

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian" (27')

Performers

Kirill Gerstein piano

Semjon Bychkov conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic Concert for subscribers

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

Dress rehearsal


Prices from 200 Kč Tickets and contact information

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.

 

Performers

Kirill Gerstein  piano
Kirill Gerstein

The multifaceted pianist Kirill Gerstein has rapidly ascended into classical music’s highest ranks. His early training and experience in jazz has contributed an important element to his interpretive style. 

Mr. Gerstein is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award. Since receiving the award in 2010, Mr. Gerstein has shared his prize through the commissioning of boundary-crossing works by Timo Andres, Chick Corea, Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, and Brad Mehldau. Mr. Gerstein was awarded First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, received a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant. 

In the 2018/2019 season Gerstein gives the world premiere performance of Thomas Adès’ new Piano Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer, with performances in Boston and in Carnegie Hall, New York. Elsewhere in this season, Gerstein appears with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder. He performs in China with the Shanghai and Guangzhou Symphony Orchestras, with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paolo. He plays recitals in London, Stuttgart, Lisbon, Singapore, Melbourne and Copenhagen, as well as chamber performances with the Hagen Quartet, Veronika Eberle and Clemens Hagen in Lucerne, and with actor Bruno Ganz for recitals in Germany and Austria. 

In autumn 2018 Gerstein’s recording of Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, with the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko was released on LAWO Classic’s. Future recording releases this season include Busoni’s Piano Concerto on myrios classics in spring 2019 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Nos. 1–3 in summer 2019, part of Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project recorded for Decca with the Czech Philharmonic. 

Born in 1979 in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and while studying classical music, taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection. After coming to the attention of vibraphonist Gary Burton, who was performing at a music festival in the Soviet Union, Mr. Gerstein came to the United States at 14 to study jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. After completing his studies in three years and following his second summer at the Boston University program at Tanglewood, Mr. Gerstein turned his focus back to classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky and earned both Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees by the age of 20. He continued his studies in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov and in Budapest with Ferenc Rados. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany. 

A committed teacher and pedagogue, Gerstein taught at the Stuttgart Musik Hochschule from 2007–2017 and from autumn 2018 he teaches as part of Kronberg Academy’s newly announced Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Artists.

Semyon Bychkov  conductor
Semyon Bychkov

Celebrating both his fifth season as Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic and his 70th birthday, Semyon Bychkov will celebrate his birthday with three concerts in November pairing Beethoven’s Fifth with Shostakovich’s Fifth. It is a season which opens in Prague with the official concert to mark the Czech Republic’s Presidency of the EU and continues with concert performances of Dvořák’s Rusalka as part of the Dvořákova Prague International Music Festival. Later in the season, Bychkov will conduct Rusalka at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Bychkov's tenure at the Czech Philharmonic was initiated in 2018 with concerts in Prague, London, New York and Washington marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovak independence. With the culmination of The Tchaikovsky Project in 2019, Bychkov and the Orchestra turned their focus to Mahler. In 2022, Pentatone has already released two discs in the ongoing complete symphonic cycle – Mahler’s Fourth and Fifth Symphonies.

Bychkov's repertoire spans four centuries. The unique combination of innate musicality and rigorous Russian pedagogy ensure that his performances are highly anticipated. In addition to being a guest with the major orchestras and opera houses across Europe and the US, Bychkov holds honorary titles with the BBC Symphony Orchestra – with whom he appears annually at the BBC Proms – and the Royal Academy of Music from whom he recently received an Honorary Doctorate. In 2015, he was named "Conductor of the Year’ by the International Opera Awards.

Bychkov began recording for Philips in 1989 and released discs with the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Subsequently a series of benchmark recordings with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne included a complete cycle of Brahms Symphonies, together with works by Strauss, Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Verdi, Glanert and Höller. His 1992 recording of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin was BBC’s Radio 3’s Building a Library recommended recording (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 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, he 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 in 1975. He returned in 1989 as Principal Guest Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic and, the same year, was named Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris. In 1997, Bychkov was appointed Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and in 1998, Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.

Compositions

Dmitri Shostakovich
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102

Allegro
Andante
Allegro

Shostakovich was one of the greatest symphonists not only of the twentieth century, but also of all of music history. His fifteen symphonies composed between 1925 and 1971 mirror half a century of life in the Soviet Union when the crushing weight of history in that part of the world was destroying human lives. After the First World War—the self destruction of worldwide European hegemony—there were many Russian artists reporting on the dramatic developments in their ingenious works (the writer Bulgakov, for example), and Shostakovich was unquestionably among them. We can hardly imagine Shostakovich composing outside of Russia. Unlike Stravinsky or Prokofiev who were successful abroad, Shostakovich was a “chronicler”, and in his works we read and hear a description of what was happening to people in the Soviet Union. His music depended largely on it political and cultural context, so it cannot be seen in black and white—the search for a compromise between the free expression of an artistic idea and the unimaginably powerful pressure of the all-important state ideology led to the creation of highly disparate works. The fact that we can recognise the same composer in his propaganda music and in his Thirteenth Symphony (“Babi Yar”) is proof of Shostakovich’s musical genius.

Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Piano Concerto No. 2 as a gift for his son Maxim, who performed it on 10 May 1957, the day of his 19th birthday, at his graduation concert from the Moscow Conservatoire. This enchantingly fresh composition, bristling with energy, is immediate, playful, and at first glance seems to be free of the multiple layers of intellectual content that are so typical of Shostakovich’s other, more serious works. But here, too, there are hidden planes of meaning. Shostakovich seems to have inserted all kinds of family references into the music—jokes that only the father and son could fully understand. Of course, every pianist notices the obvious passage in the third movement, where Shostakovich quotes an etude from the collection The Piano Virtuoso by Charles-Louis Hanon. This joke must have resonated wonderfully in conservatoire circles, because in those days Hanon etudes were mandatory at Russian music schools, and the students had to memorise them. So we might also imagine the father trying to compose while the sound of his son banging on the piano keys could be heard from the adjacent room…

The composition is written in the usual three-movement concerto form, and it calls for a relatively small orchestra. Although music critics have condemned the work many times, it has won over the hearts of audiences and performers, and it is performed frequently. The energetically burlesque outer movements frame a perfectly contrasting bittersweet andante that is dramatically at the heart of the concerto and guarantees the work its lasting popularity.

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Symphony No. 4 in A Major (“Italian”), Op. 90

Allegro vivace
Andante con moto
Con moto moderato
Saltarello. Presto

On 3 February 1809, a son named Felix was born to the wealthy family of the banker Abraham Mendelssohn. He began playing piano and violin at the age of seven, at age nine he made a public appearance, and already at 12 he began composing. Wisely, Felix’s father did not stand in the way of the development of his son’s talent; to the contrary, he actively supported the boy—perhaps as a banker, he was well aware of how fleeting wealth was, and that the only thing that could immortalise his name was an act of artistic creativity. Felix was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by plenty in what was then one of Germany’s richest families, and never in his life did he have to concern himself with earning a living. Already as a child, he was composing symphonies, cantatas, songs, choruses, and attempts at musical drama. Many of these compositions (including symphonies!) were performed soon after they were written at regular Sunday household concerts, for which leading professional musicians were hired, so the young composer received immediate feedback—what would Antonín Dvořák have given to have had something like that! After the travels of his youth (Germany, England, Scotland, Italy), he became the conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, and he served in that capacity continuously from 1835 (with the exception of the years 1841–1842) until the end of his life. As its conductor, he improved the Leipzig orchestra, establishing its outstanding reputation, which continues to this day.

Mendelssohn composed five mature symphonies. The Symphony in A Major (“Italian) was the third to be written, but based on the opus numbers assigned by the composer, it was his fourth. Mendelssohn’s first sketches for the symphony date from his journey to Italy in 1830/31. The Hamburg native was enthralled by sunny Italy’s joyous atmosphere and temperament. The young Felix sent home letters full of colourful accounts of everything he experienced and saw abroad, and he showed his talent as an artist by supplementing his descriptions with lovely drawings. The composer noted his sources of inspiration: “For most of my music I am indebted to things that are not, in fact, musical: ruins, paintings, the beauty of nature.” He also wrote that he did not begin sketching the symphony until he had visited Naples, because he said that experience must not be left out. Of course, there is no descriptive narrative of concrete scenery. Instead, the composer poured into his music the impressions that Italy made on him, so we can view the symphony’s individual movements as four pictures of Italian life through the eyes of a young German intellectual. The sunny Allegro vivace takes us to the joyous merriment of Rome’s carnivals. The Andante con moto was inspired by a religious procession with a dignified atmosphere interrupted only by two melodic, pastoral episodes, during which it is as if the observer momentarily diverted his gaze, dreaming of the beauties of nature. The minuet Con moto moderato was apparently inspired by Goethe’s poem Lilis Park, then in the trio, according to the scholar Thomas Grey, the composer expresses his homesickness (French horns symbolising Germany’s forests and hunting). The concluding Presto is filled with the rhythms of Italian folk dancing, the Roman saltarello and the wild Neapolitan tarantella.

Mendelssohn composed his “Italian Symphony” after returning to Berlin in 1832. The composer conducted the first performance in March 1833 in London. Although the public received the symphony enthusiastically, the composer was not satisfied with it, and he soon began work on its revision. He never finished the new score, and he never had the work published during his lifetime. It did not appear in print until four years after his death.

The best of the Rudolfinum


5 times a year directly to your e-mail.
Join 9500+ readers.

Your e-mail is safe with us. One-click logout.

Close
What are you looking for?