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Czech Philharmonic • Yuja Wang


This set of three concerts has some of the season’s biggest stars, bringing together two artists-in-residence of the Czech Philharmonic. Yuja Wang will perform Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto a year after having shined at Carnegie Hall in a marathon of all four Rachmaninoff concertos on one evening.

Subscription series C | Duration of the programme 1 hour 55 minutes

Programme

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (39')

— Intermission —

Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 6 in A major (54')

Performers

Yuja Wang piano

Simon Rattle conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Czech Philharmonic • Yuja Wang

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

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Price from 250 to 1200 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.

 

Aftertalk

After the concert on Saturday 10 February we invite you to an aftertalk with conductor Simon Rattle in the Dvořák Hall. The aftertalk will be in English and will be interpreted into Czech.

Moderated by David Mareček

Performers

Yuja Wang  piano

Yuja Wang

Pianist Yuja Wang is celebrated for her charismatic artistry, emotional honesty and captivating stage presence. She has performed with the world’s most venerated conductors, musicians and ensembles, and is renowned not only for her virtuosity, but her spontaneous and lively performances, famously telling the New York Times. “I firmly believe every program should have its own life, and be a representation of how I feel at the moment”. This skill and charisma was recently demonstrated in her performance of Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2 at Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night Gala in October 2021, following its historic 572 days of closure.

Yuja was born into a musical family in Beijing. After childhood piano studies in China, she received advanced training in Canada and at the Curtis Institute of Music under Gary Graffman. Her international breakthrough came in 2007, when she replaced Martha Argerich as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Two years later, she signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and has since established her place among the world’s leading artists, with a succession of critically acclaimed performances and recordings. She was named Musical America’s Artist of the Year in 2017, and in 2021 received an Opus Klassik Award for her world-premiere recording of John Adams’ Must the Devil Have all the Good Tunes? with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.

As a chamber musician, Yuja has developed long lasting partnerships with several leading artists, notably violinist Leonidas Kavakos, with whom she has recorded the complete Brahms violin sonatas and will be performing duo recitals in America in the Autumn. In 2022, Yuja embarks on a highly-anticipated international recital tour, which sees her perform in world-class venues across North America, Europe and Asia, astounding audiences once more with her flair, technical ability and exceptional artistry in a wide-ranging programme to include Bach, Beethoven and Schoenberg.

Simon Rattle  conductor

Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. From 1980 to 1998, Sir Simon was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Music Director in 1990. In 2002 he took up the position of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker where he remained until the end of the 2017/2018 season. Sir Simon took up the position of Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017. He will remain in this position until the 2023/2024 season, when he will become the orchestra’s Conductor Emeritus. From the 2023/2024 season Sir Simon will take up the position of Chief Conductor with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Munich. He is a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Sir Simon has made over 70 recordings for EMI record label (now Warner Classics) and has received numerous prestigious international awards for his recordings on various labels. He regularly tours within Europe and Asia and has strong longstanding relationships with the world’s leading orchestras and opera houses.

Music education is of supreme importance to Sir Simon, and his partnership with the Berliner Philiharmoniker broke new ground with the education programme Zukunft@Bphil, earning him the Comenius Prize, the Schiller Special Prize from the city of Mannheim, the Golden Camera and the Urania Medal. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were also appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors in 2004 – the first time this honour has been conferred on an artistic ensemble. In 2019 Simon announced the creation of the LSO East London Academy, developed by the London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with 10 East London boroughs. This free program aims to identify and develop the potential of young East Londoners between the ages of 11 and 18 who show exceptional musical talent, irrespective of their background or financial circumstance. Sir Simon has also been awarded several prestigious personal honours which include a knighthood in 1994, becoming a member of the Order of Merit from Her Majesty the Queen in 2014 and was recently bestowed the Order of Merit in Berlin in 2018. In 2019, Sir Simon was given the Freedom of the City of London.

The 2022/2023 season will see him conduct the London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Berlin, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for their special ‘Freedom’ concerts. He will return to the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin to revive Mozart’s Idomeneo, and in summer 2023 he returns to the Aix en Provence Festival with the London Symphony Orchestra, where they will perform Gerard McBurney’s Wozzeck. He will tour Japan and South Korea with the London Symphony Orchestra, and later in the season they will embark on a tour to Australia.

Compositions

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

Sergei Rachmaninoff composed four piano concertos over a span of nearly half a century; the first dates from 1891 and the fourth, written in 1927, did not assume its definitive form until 1941. Rachmaninoff was one of the few 20th-century artists who was still continuing the tradition of composing piano virtuosos like Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, the Rubinstein brothers, and others from the previous two centuries. Rachmaninoff’s contemporaries Sergei Prokofiev and Béla Bartók were also examples of this, but unlike them, Rachmaninoff never abandoned the expressive resources of Romanticism in his composing. He remained faithful to the legacy of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose influence we find in the breadth of the themes, the nostalgia of expression, and the orchestration. He also never left behind the influences of Russian folk music, something we also find in the works of Mussorgsky, Borodin, and others. 

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, is regarded among pianists as one of the most difficult, and not only because of its technical demands (there are several passages with “ossia” versions, allowing performers to choose the more difficult or the easier option), but also because of its length. The concerto was dedicated to Józef (Josef) Hofmann, a pianist of Polish descent, but Hoffmann never played it. Rachmaninoff had composed it especially for his tour of the USA, where he wanted to present himself not only as a pianist, but also as a composer. The work was premiered on 28 November 1909 in New York with Walter Damrosch conducting and the composer at the piano, and it was heard again the following year on 16 January at Carnegie Hall in New York under the baton of Gustav Mahler. Rachmaninoff was extraordinarily impressed by Mahler’s approach. Although the orchestra had already rehearsed the composition, Mahler devoted himself to giving a precise reading of the work’s details. According to the musical author and composer Oskar Riesemann, Rachmaninoff commented: “Every detail of the score was important – an attitude too rare amongst conductors.” Shortly afterwards, the Piano Concerto No. 3 was given its Moscow premiere on 4 April 1910. The typically “Russian-sounding” opening theme is reminiscent of folk music or, according to some of Rachmaninoff’s biographers, an old Russian liturgical melody; the composer, however, did not agree with that characterisation. About the theme, he wrote to the musicologist Joseph Yasser: “It is borrowed neither from folk song forms nor from church sources. It simply ‘wrote itself’! You will probably refer this to the ‘unconscious’! If I had any plan in composing this theme, I was thinking only of sound. I wanted to ‘sing’ the melody on the piano, as a singer would sing it, and to find a suitable orchestral accompaniment, or rather one that would not muffle this singing.” The reprise of the sonata-form first movement deals primarily with this theme, while there is only a brief hint of the second theme. The nostalgic second movement is also typically Russian in character, and it leads without a break into the finale, which is again in sonata form. The composition is linked internally by a central idea that passes through all of the movements, and the second theme of the first movement reappears at the climax of the finale. The reemergence of these ideas creates the impression of ingenious improvisation that is so characteristic of Rachmaninoff. The wealth of the concerto’s harmonies, its masterful combination of homophonic and polyphonic writing, and brilliant orchestration all contribute to the work’s powerful effect.

Anton Bruckner
Symphony No. 6 in A major

Like the symphonies of Beethoven, the symphonies of Anton Bruckner constitute a self-contained whole. Some of Bruckner’s critics have described him as obsessive because he subjected all of his symphonies to revisions almost at the same time near the end of his life, as if they all represented one single work to him. Unlike in the case of Beethoven, where one can follow a direct line of development, and each symphony constitutes an individual entity, there are strong ties between Bruckner’s symphonies. His conception for them did not change over time, and one can find many links between them. The composer made his first attempt at composing a symphony in 1863, and his symphonic output ends with the incomplete work numbered as his Ninth Symphony, but if one includes this 1863 student work in F minor and the “Symphony No. 0” (more properly the “annulled” symphony) in D minor from 1869, he wrote eleven symphonies, and the chronology of their composing is confused by various versions of some of them. Bruckner is regarded as one of the last great symphonists of the 19th century whose works have become part of the standard repertoire and are regularly played, like those of Johannes Brahms, Antonín Dvořák, or Gustav Mahler (the latter overlapping into the 20th century). However, that did not come about quickly or without obstacles; Bruckner’s path to success in the concert hall was a difficult one. He did not begin to be fully accepted until after the performances of his Seventh Symphony by Arthur Nikisch in Leipzig in 1884.

The Sixth Symphony was composed between 1879 and 1881. The composer was able to hear it only once at an orchestral rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic, but before the actual concert, the conductor Otto Jahn decided to perform only the two middle movements. They were heard on 11 February 1883 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein, and the reception was ambivalent. Eduard Hanslick, a great proponent of Johannes Brahms and, as such, sceptical towards the “Wagnerian” Bruckner, expressed himself ambiguously: “...the composer has become a bit more disciplined, but he has lost his naturalness. In the Adagio, the audience’s interest and astonishment were still kept in balance, although with hesitation. However, in the oddity-laden Scherzo, the proverbial horse has thrown off its rider.” The first performance of all of the symphony’s movements took place in Vienna on 26 February 1899, again with the Vienna Philharmonic, this time led by Gustav Mahler, but in a version with cuts and revisions by the conductor. Today we cannot judge how drastic the changes were; Mahler’s version has not been preserved. Bruckner’s original version was first performed on 14 March 1901 in Stuttgart under the baton of Karl Pohlig, a native of the north-Bohemian city Teplice and a staff conductor at the Court Opera in Vienna during the first three years of Mahler’s directorship. That performance was also inadequate because the edition printed by the Viennese publisher in 1899 contained many errors. The first edition corresponding to the composer’s manuscript appeared in 1935, and that version of the symphony was first played on 9 October 1935 in Dresden, led by the Dutch conductor Paul van Kempen.

The first movement of the Sixth Symphony is built from three themes. In the development section, Bruckner shows himself to be a master of contrapuntal voice leading. The development section leads directly to the recapitulation followed by a majestic coda. It is in this symphony for the first time that the slow movement is central to Bruckner’s conception of the work, playing an important dramaturgical role and influencing the character of the other movements. It is based on the varied treatment of complexes of themes. The third movement (Scherzo) and the finale are related in character, and the third movement is especially engaging because of its colourful orchestration. In the final movement in modified sonata form, one again recognises several complexes of themes, the combination of which is the basis of the fanfare-like coda.

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