Czech Philharmonic • New Year’s Concert


“This cold New Year’s Eve I invite you to accompany me on a journey to Spain,” says the Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena. “Joining us on this journey are two exceptional soloists: we welcome the global ambassador of Spanish guitar Pablo Sáinz-Villegas and the versatile mezzo-soprano Clara Mouriz.”

  • Duration of the programme 1 hour 35 minutes

Programme

Manuel de Falla
Interlude and Dance from the opera La vida breve (8')
“Vivan los que rien, mueran los que lloran”, Salud’s aria from the opera La vida breve (5')

Joaquín Rodrigo
Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra (21')

— Intermission —

Joaquín Turina
Danzas fantásticas (Fantastic Dances, selection), Op. 22 (5')
Orgía (Orgy)

Xavier Montsalvatge
Cinco canciones negras (Five Black Songs, selections) (11')

Manuel de Falla
El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat, Suites Nos. 1 and 2, selections)
Suite No. 1 (11')
Suite No. 2 (12')

Performers

Pablo-Sáinz Villegas guitar
Clara Mouriz mezzo-soprano

Juanjo Mena conductor

Jiří Vejvoda host

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic New Year’s Concert

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall


Price from 300 to 2900 CZK 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.

 

The recommended dress code for the evening concert from 20.00 is Black Tie.

Pablo Sáinz-Villegas will play Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, possibly the most famous guitar concerto and one of the most original masterpieces of the twentieth century, thanks to the extraordinary beauty of its central Adagio. Clara Mouriz will add a touch of authenticity to the music from Manuela de Falla ballet The Three Cornered Hat, with its sensuous orchestration and unmistakeable Spanish dance rhythms. The pace slows down somewhat for a selection of Montsalvatge’s sumptuous Canciones Negras, for which Clara Mouriz’s voice is so perfectly suited. “Instead of New Years’ fireworks, you will be dazzled by the earthy energy of Turina’s Danzas Fantásticas. I look forward to celebrating the New Year at the Rudolfinum with you and with the wonderful Czech Philharmonic!” adds Juanjo Mena.

 

The concert is organised by the Czech Philharmonic and Prague Sounds.

Performers

Pablo Sáinz-Villegas  guitar

Praised as “the soul of the Spanish guitar”, he has become a worldwide sensation known as this generation’s great guitarist. Pablo Sáinz-Villegas has been acclaimed by the international press as the successor of Andrés Segovia and an ambassador of Spanish culture in the world. Since his early debut with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos at Lincoln Center, he has played in more than 40 countries and with orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the National Orchestra of Spain. Pablo’s “virtuosic playing characterized by irresistible exuberance” (The New York Times) make him one of the most acclaimed soloists by prestigious conductors, orchestras, and festivals.

Plácido Domingo hailed him as “the master of the guitar” from the beginning of their multiple collaborations together. They released “Volver”, a duo album with Sony Classical and their performances have taken place in an unique stages around the world such as the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid to an audience of over 85,000 people, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and on a floating stage on the Amazon River televised internationally for millions. An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Pablo Sáinz-Villegas has recently released “The Soul of Spanish Guitar” a solo album with some of the masterpieces written for the guitar.

Pablo Sáinz-Villegas has appeared on some of the world’s most prominent stages including the Carnegie Hall in New York, the Philharmonie in Berlin, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, the Musikverein in Vienna and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He has also continued touring with his trio band at stages as iconic as the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York.

Regularly invited to perform at corporate and governmental events, he has played at special events for the Real Madrid Foundation and on several occasions before members of the Spanish Royal Family as well as other heads of state and international leaders such as the Dalai Lama.

As a passionate promoter of the development of new repertoire, he has made numerous world premieres including the first composition for guitar by fivetime Academy Award-winner John Williams. Sáinz-Villegas was inspired to take guitar lessons at age six and gave his first public performance at just seven years old. Over the years, he accomplished an impressive collection of over 30 international awards, including the Segovia Award which he won at age 15 and the coveted gold medal at the inaugural Parkening International Guitar Competition.

As a lifelong dreamer, educator and philanthropist, he founded in 2006 the non-profit project “The music without borders legacy”, with the mission of bringing music to humanize people’s environment and to promote the understanding among different cultures. 

Pablo acts as a jury member of the renowned “Virtuoso show” aired in November and December 2022 in Hungary, Slowenia, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Clara Mouriz  mezzo-soprano

Spanish mezzo-soprano Clara Mouriz has established herself as a versatile performer, who is equally at home in recital, opera and on the orchestral stage. A former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, she was mentored by Joyce DiDonato and Felicity Lott as a recipient of the Wigmore Hall / Independent Opera Fellowship, and has also received the International Handel Competition Audience Price and the honorary title of ‘Associate of the Royal Academy of Music’ in London.

An outstanding recitalist, Clara has appeared in radio broadcasts and at concert halls across Europe and North America, alongside a number of leading pianists including Joseph Middleton, Julius Drake, Graham Johnson, Simon Lepper, Malcolm Martineau, Melvyn Tan and Roger Vignoles. She is also one of the founding members of the Myrthen Ensemble, and has recorded for Signum alongside Mary Bevan, Allan Clayton, Marcus Farnsworth and Joseph Middleton. A regular artist at Wigmore Hall, Clara returns in May with a Ravel programme performed with Joseph Middleton, Roderick Williams, Adam Walker and Guy Johnston.

Clara made her BBC Proms debut in 2013, performing Falla’s Three Cornered Hat with the BBC Philharmonic under Juanjo Mena with whom she has also recorded works by Montsalvatge and Turina for Chandos to critical acclaim. Clara has appeared with most of the main European orchestras, and at the beginning of her career she had the opportunity to work under the baton of the celebrated Rafael Frübeck de Burgos and Sir Colin Davis and later on with conductors including Daniel Harding, Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Andrew Davis or Alexander Shelley.

Opera and concert appearances include Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro in San Sebastián’s Quincena Musical and Madrid’s El Escorial festivals as well as Teatre Principal de Palma; Elena in the recovered score of Carnicer’s Elena e Malvina with ONE Spanish National Orchestra under Guillermo García Calvo; the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola for AGAO, Pamplona under Nicola Valentini; Berlioz’s L’ Enfance du Christ with OSPA Principado de Asturias Symphony under Pablo González; Michael Haydn’s Requiem with EO Basque National Orchestra under Christian Zacharias; Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Montsalvatge’s Cinco Canciones Negras with ONE Spanish National Orchestra under Juanjo Mena; Falla’s Amor Brujo with BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Carlos Miguel Prieto, performing the same work with the Rheinsche Philharmonie and the English Chamber Orchestra and Ravel’s Scheherazade with BOS Bilbao Symphony Orchestra under Erik Nielsen.

Juanjo Mena  conductor

Juanjo Mena began his conducting career in his native Spain as Music Director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. His uncommon talent was soon recognized internationally with appointments as Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic and Chief Guest Conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. In 2011 he was named Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, taking the orchestra on tours of Europe and Asia and conducting annual televised concerts at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. His BBC tenure featured “thrilling” (The Guardian) performances of Bruckner Symphonies, a cycle of Schubert Symphonies and set new standards for the interpretation of Spanish and South American repertoire. He currently holds the position of Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, the longest running choral festival in North America.

Juanjo Mena has led Europe’s top ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich among others. He also appears regularly with all the major orchestras in his native Spain. He has conducted most of North America’s leading orchestras, including the Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Toronto Symphonies, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is a regular guest conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo.

Juanjo Mena’s 2022/2023 season starts with him leading the Teatro Real Orchestra (the Royal Opera of Madrid) in its historic Carnegie Hall debut. Other guest performances this season include his debut with the Dallas Symphony and the Czech Philharmonic and returns to the Minnesota Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony, Lucerne Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Danish National Orchestra and the Oslo Philharmonic. May 2023 marks Juanjo Mena’s final performances as Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, concluding his pivotal six-year tenure at the organization during which he has expanded commissioning of new works and put the community at the heart of the Festival. 

Mena’s rich discography with the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos includes Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6, an acclaimed Gabriel Pierné release selected as a Gramophone Editor’s Choice, Ginastera’s orchestral works and new reference recordings of lesser-performed Spanish repertoire including Arriaga’s orchestral pieces, works by Albéniz, Montsalvatge and Turina, and three discs of works by Manuel de Falla. In 2012 Juanjo Mena recorded Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony with the Bergen Philharmonic for the Hyperion label, a disc said to “utterly redefine the terms under which past/current/future Turangalîlas need to be judged” (Gramophone).

Jiří Vejvoda  

Compositions

Manuel de Falla
La vida breve & The Three-Cornered Hat

Manuel de Falla got his first inspiration as a composer from Filipe Pedrell (1841–1922), who is regarded as the father of Spanish classical music. In 1904, when the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid announced a competition similar to the one held by the Milan publisher that had led to the composing of successful one-act operas by Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo, it was at Filipe Pedrell’s suggestion that de Falla composed the opera La vida breve (Life Is Short) based on a libretto by his friend Carlos Fernández-Shaw. The opera won first prize but was not performed until 1 April 1913 in Nice in a French translation. The Spanish premiere took place on 14 November 1914 at the Teatro Zarzuela in Madrid. The action of the opera, a tale of love with a tragic ending and with a social message in the background, reveals the powerful influence of verismo, and the music draws upon Spanish folklore. The gypsy girl Salud, who lives with her great-uncle, who is a blacksmith, and with her grandmother, is in love with a boy named Paco from a rich family. The girl’s grandmother warns her against loving too deeply, and her great-uncle brings the news that Paco is marrying Carmela, who is from his own social class. Salud has been betrayed, and when she witnesses the wedding merriment, she collapses and dies before the eyes of the wedding party. In the introductory scene, Salud mourns over a dead bird in a kind of premonition. The Intermezzo from the opera depicts the mood of Granada at night.

In the development of Spanish art music, the linking of Spanish musical traditions with Europe-wide developments played a significant role. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, several Spanish composers were acquiring experience in Paris. Among them was Manuel de Falla, who lived in Paris from 1907 until the First World War, and he became a friend of Paul Dukas, Maurice Ravel, Florent Schmitt, Claude Debussy, and other representatives of French modernism. In 1916–1917, de Falla composed the music for the pantomime farce (farsa mimica) El corregidor y la molinera (The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife). Two years later, he reworked it into the form of a ballet titled El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), which was first performed on 22 July at London’s Alhambra-Theatre by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with choreography by Léonide Massine and sets by Pablo Picasso. Tamara Karsavina danced the role of the miller’s wife, and the conductor of the premiere was Ernest Ansermet. The ballet was based on a novella with the same title written by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón in 1874 about a clever miller’s wife who, with her husband’s knowledge, punishes the scheming corregidor, who supposes that his position of authority as a high-ranking magistrate allows him to do whatever he pleases. Manuel de Falla created two suites from the music of the ballet, and each suite employs the most characteristic Spanish folk dances.

Joaquín Rodrigo
Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra

The Concierto de Aranjuez is probably the most famous work by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Blind from the age of three, he studied composition under Paul Dukas in Paris, where he established friendships with the composers of the group known as Les six, Maurice Ravel, his compatriot Manuel de Falla, and other figures. Above all, it is thanks to Rodrigo that the guitar has gained recognition as a concerto instrument that can hold its own in front of an orchestra. The Spanish Civil War began during Rodrigo’s stay in Paris and delayed his return to his homeland. He composed his Concierto de Aranjuez at that time under the impression of reports about events back home. The work was inspired by the summer residence of the kings of Spain – The Royal Palace of Aranjuez near Madrid. The premiere of the composition took place on 9 November 1940 in Barcelona with Rodrigo’s friend Regino Sáinz de la Maza (1896–1981), to whom the concerto is dedicated, as the soloist, and with the Orquest Filarmonica de Barcelona and the conductor César de Mendoza Lassalle. The first movement, a lively fandango in 6/8 time, is in classical sonata form. The most popular part of the concerto is the emotional slow movement with its lovely melody for English horn, which is then taken over and developed by the solo guitar. The third movement in rondo form derives its excitement from its irregular rhythms.

Joaquín Turina
Danzas fantásticas for orchestra, Op. 22

Joaquín Turina also found much creative stimulation in Paris, where he spent eight years. At the same time (as was the case with de Falla and others), the influence of the French impressionists led to the awareness of his own national roots. Turina’s five Danzas fantásticas, Op. 22, were originally written in the summer of 1919 for piano, then that autumn the composer orchestrated the work and dedicated it to his wife. Exaltación (Exaltation) is a stylisation of one of Spain’s most widespread dances, the jota, which is mainly associated with Aragon, where several variants also developed. Danced in pairs, the jota is described as a duel of partners: the man challenges the woman, and they seem to approach each other threateningly with their arms slightly raised, dodging each other, almost attempting knock each other off their feet. Ensueño (A Dream) employs the zortziko, a Basque dance in 5/8 metre. Its rhythm also appears in the music of Maurice Ravel and Pablo de Sarasate. Orgía (Orgy) presents an Andalusian dance, the farruca, one of the flamenco variants. The orchestral version of the Danzas fantásticas was first performed on 13 February 1920 in Madrid, and the composer himself premiered the piano version in June of the following year in the city Málaga.

Xavier Montsalvatge
Cinco canciones negras

Xavier Montsalvatge was from Catalonia. At first he was influenced by Richard Wagner and the innovations of the 12-tone composers, but later he took inspiration from folk music of the Caribbean and from French composers (Les six, Olivier Messiaen). Eventually, he arrived at his own combination with elements of New Music. He was especially fond of the Cuban folk songs he learned from Cuban sailors he met at a port in the Catalonian Costa Brava region. At first, the sailors were amazed that such a cultured gentleman liked their ordinary songs, and Montsalvatge had to persuade them not to embellish the melodies in the manner of operetta. The “Lullaby for a Little Black Boy” from the cycle Cinco canciones negras (Five Black Songs) has become one of his most popular compositions.

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