Tomáš Netopil divides his time between symphonic and opera conducting, and he wishes to show his “operatic face” to the Czech Philharmonic audience. For the players of the orchestra, the suite from the High Baroque opera Hippolyte et Aricie represents an interpretive challenge. Just as it is a good idea for early music ensembles to take an occasional excursion into the world of Romanticism, Baroque music also belongs on the programmes of modern orchestras, and the opera Hippolyte et Aricie is one of the supreme works of its genre. Jean-Philippe Rameau wrote it at the age of fifty-one as a respected music theorist and teacher. The new work caused a true sensation, and according to the critics, it contained “enough music to compose ten operas”.
Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and First Piano Concerto have in common his attempt to come to terms with the compositional style of Haydn and Mozart in a worthy manner. Beethoven managed not only to grasp the greatness of the two composers, but also to channel his own original, sometimes unbridled musical language into the classical form. This can be best heard in the Menuetto of the Fourth Symphony, a full-fledged, brilliant scherzo notwithstanding its measured proportions. The Fourth Symphony is Tomáš Netopil’s contribution to the complete performances of Beethoven’s symphonies for the composer’s 250th birthday. In February, the phenomenal Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder will also begin a cycle of all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos, which he will be performing as a soloist with the Czech Philharmonic, and next season as a conductor as well.
Hippolyte et Aricie, orchestral suite from the opera
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60
Rudolf Buchbinder is firmly established as one of the world’s foremost pianists and is frequently invited by major orchestras and festivals around the world. His comprehensive repertoire encompasses numerous 20th-century compositions. Rudolf Buchbinder’s emphasis lies in his meticulous study of musical sources. He owns 35 complete editions of Beethoven’s sonatas and has an extensive collection of autograph scores, first editions and original documents. In addition, he possesses copies of the autograph scores and piano parts of both Brahms concertos.
More than 100 recordings document the scope and diversity of Rudolf Buchbinder’s repertoire. Notable recordings to his credit include Haydn’s complete works for piano, which caused a stir and earned him the Grand Prix du Disque, as well as Waltzing Strauss, a CD featuring piano transcriptions. Today Rudolf Buchbinder favours live recordings, a preference which has resulted in a CD with the Brahms piano concertos (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Nikolaus Harnoncourt) and in two DVDs featuring six Mozart concertos with Buchbinder as pianist and conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic at the 2006 Vienna Festwochen. Another live recording of the two Brahms piano concertos, released in 2010, was made together with the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta.
In May 2011, Rudolf Buchbinder’s performances as pianist and conductor in Beethoven’s five piano concertos at Vienna’s Musikverein together with the Vienna Philharmonic were released on DVD and Blu-ray. In November 2012, Rudolf Buchbinder presented a live recording of Mozart concertos with Concentus Musicus Wien and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
The interpretation of the “new testament” of the piano repertoire has developed into a core interest for Rudolf Buchbinder. He continues to set standards with his performances of the complete 32 sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven in more than 40 cities, among them Vienna, Munich, Zurich, St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires, Beijing and Milan. In the 2012/2013 concert season Rudolf Buchbinder performs his entire Beethoven cycle in Berlin.
Throughout the 2010/2011 season he maintained a particularly close cooperation with the Staatskapelle Dresden as the orchestra’s first Artist in Residence. His cycle of all Beethoven piano sonatas at the Semperoper in Dresden was recorded live and released in May 2011 as a CD box by Sony/RCA Red Seal. In 2012 it won the prestigious Echo Klassik Award in the category “Instrumentalist of the Year” and the Choc de l’année 2012.
Rudolf Buchbinder is the founding artistic director of the Grafenegg Music Festival near Vienna, which has quickly gained its rank among the major orchestra festivals in Europe since its foundation in 2007. In his biography Da Capo (which includes an introduction by German music critic Joachim Kaiser), Rudolf Buchbinder offers insights into his life as one of today’s most distinguished pianists.
Tomáš Netopil took up the position of General Music Director of the Aalto Theatre and Philharmonie Essen at the start of 2013/2014. In addition to his concert season at the helm of Essen Philharmoniker, his opera productions in 2018/2019 include Der Freischütz , Salome, Così fan tutte and Rusalka whilst in 2017/2018 he conducted The Bartered Bride, Salome, Lohengrin, Die Walküre, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Netopil made his debut with Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden in 2008 since when he has conducted La clemenza di Tito, Rusalka, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Juive, and Busoni’s Doktor Faust and he will conduct a new production of The Bartered Bride for them in Spring 2019. This season, he will also conduct a new production of Jenůfa for Netherlands Opera and returns to Wiener Staatsoper for Idomeneo: in 2017/2018 he conducted a new production of Der Freischütz, and has previously conducted Káťa Kabanová, Rusalka and The Cunning Little Vixen in Vienna. He has also conducted Falstaff and The Makropulos Case for Vlaamse Opera.
An inspirational force in Czech music, Tomáš Netopil is one of the two Principal Guest Conductors of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. In August 2017 he conducted two Dvořák and Mozart concerts alongside Diana Damrau at the Grafenegg Festival. In early Spring 2018 he led the orchestra on an extensive UK tour, and conducted Má vlast in the opening concert of the 2018 Prague Spring Festival, which was televised live.
About his debut at the Dvořák's Prague festival in 2017 with Essener Philharmoniker Bachtrack wrote: “The music lit up the stage like a rousing march, providing a dazzling showcase for Netopilʼs facility for creating three-dimensional soundscapes with the orchestra. With Strauss, they showed an impressive ability to segue almost instantly from dramatic dissonance to charming melodies.” He then conducted Dvořákʼs Te Deum in the closing concert of the festival with Vienna Symphony Orchestra, whom he subsequently conducted at Vienna Konzerthaus and later on at the Vienna Musikverein.
On the concert platform, in the 2018/2019 he returned to the Zürich Tonhalle. Highlights of recent seasons have included Orchestre de Paris, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, whilst future dates include Leipzig Gewandhaus and RAI Torino.
Tomáš Netopil’s discography for Supraphon includes Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass (in its never-before-recorded original 1927 version), Dvořákʼs complete cello works, Martinůʼs Ariane and Double Concerto, and Smetana’s Má vlast with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. He has also recorded Suk’s Asrael Symphony with Essener Philharmoniker.
From 2008–2012 Tomáš Netopil held the position of Music Director of the Prague National Theatre. Tomáš Netopil studied violin and conducting in his native Czech Republic, as well as at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm under the guidance of Professor Jorma Panula. In 2002 he won the 1st Sir Georg Solti Conductors Competition at the Alte Oper Frankfurt.
Ludwig van Beethoven provides a link between the classical symphony and the large-scale choral symphonies of the romantics. No. 4 in B flat Major Op. 60 from 1806 is among his lesser-known symphonies and stands in the shade of its better known counterparts, Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major (Eroica) and Symphony No. 5 in C Minor. This is what Robert Schumann meant when he called Beethoven’s Fourth “a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants”. Adhering to the classical four-movement form, the symphony is cheerful, witty, idyllic, sparkling with a plethora of ideas and “joie de vivre”. Allegedly, this reflects the composer’s frame of mind at a time when his health improved and he was enchanted by Countess Josephine Brunsvik. A more realistic view of the circumstances would emphasise that the work was commissioned by patron of the arts Franz Joachim von Oppersdorff, to whom it was dedicated. It was first performed, for a private company, in the Lobkowitz palace in Vienna in March 1807, conducted by the composer himself, who also conducted its first public performance in Vienna’s Burgtheater.
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