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Czech Chamber Music Society • Toperczerová, Vokálková, Tornová


At this Saturday matinee, the transverse flute in the hands of Žofie Vokálková will play the leading role. The audience will get to hear Bohuslav Martinů’s popular Promenades, Deux Interludes by Jacques Ibert, and the Partita for flute and harpsichord by the contemporary Czech composer Jiří Pazour.

Subscription series DK | Duration of the programme 1 hour 50 minutes | Czech Chamber Music Society

Programme

Anselme Vinée 
Trio-sérénade for flute, violin, and harpsichord (10')

Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata in E flat major for flute and harpsichord, BWV 1031 (10')
Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 (18')

Jacques Ibert
Deux Interludes for flute, violin, and harpsichord (8')

— Intermission —

Jiří Pazour
Partita for flute and harpsichord (17')

Bohuslav Martinů
Sonata for harpsichord, H 368 (8')
Promenades for flute, violin, and harpsichord, H 274 (9')

Performers

Helena Jiříkovská violin
Natálie Toperczerová
violin
Žofie Vokálková flute
Eva Tornová harpsichord

Photo illustrating the event Czech Chamber Music Society • Toperczerová, Vokálková, Tornová

Academy of Performing Arts — Martinů Hall

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Performers

  violin

Žofie Vokálková  flute

Žofie Vokálková, the winner of prizes at the Concertino Praga, the Pacem in Terris International Music Competition, the Prague Spring and the Web Concert Hall Competition, studied flute at the Prague Conservatory with František Malotín; in France with Christian Lardé; and in Switzerland with James Galway. She now regularly conducts master classes herself. She has given numerous solo performances with Czech and foreign orchestras, has toured internationally and is a frequent guest at major festivals in Europe and the USA. In the past, she also served as the principal flautist and soloist of the Virtuosi di Praga and the Prague Symphony Orchestra. She has recorded a dozen of solo and chamber music CDs.

She is currently working on a large-scale project mapping the work of women composers across the centuries, which has already been presented not only in the chamber series of the Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Symphony Orchestra, but also on a very successful tour in the USA, Russia, Germany and Lithuania. Since 2018, she has been a member and now the chairman of the supervisory board of the Bohuslav Martinů Foundation.

Eva Tornová  harpsichord

She started playing keyboard instruments in her native city of České Budějovice in Magda Štajnochrová’s class. She continued her piano studies at the Prague Conservatory (František Kůda) and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and studied the harpsichord at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno (Barbara Maria Willi). She further developed her performing skills in the class of Jacques Ogg at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and at master classes under the guidance of world-famous performers, and deepened her theoretical knowledge by studying musicology at Charles University in Prague.

She is the founder and artistic director of the ensemble Musica Bellissima, which specializes in the interpretation of music from the Baroque period and the 20th century; however, as a soloist and chamber musician she also collaborates with other orchestras and prominent musicians, whose works are recorded in numerous albums. In addition to concert performances, she is also engaged in musicological activities (she prepares programs on Renaissance and Baroque music for the Vltava station of Czech Radio, and publishes critical editions) and pedagogical activities (she teaches at the Nepal Music Centre in Kathmandu and conducts seminars on Baroque performance and on harpsichord playing).

Compositions

Anselme Vinée
Trio-sérénade for flute, violin, and harpsichord

Anselme Vinée was born in the town of Loudun in mid-western France, infamously known for the Possessed of Loudun affair in the 17th century. He studied in Paris with Ernest Guiraud, who also taught Paul Dukas and Eric Satie. However, Vinée’s not very numerous works (chamber pieces for strings, piano and wind instruments, orchestral suites and songs) belong to Romanticism. Over time he also devoted himself more and more to musicological work and published several pieces of music theory writing. Trio-sérénade is in three movements: the opening Romance (Andante), the Intermezzo (Allegretto) and the closing fast dance Villanelle (Allegro). The composition is dedicated to Commandant Kuntzelmann; its first performance took place at a concert of works awarded in a competition by the Société des Compositeurs de Musique in 1889. In 1890 it presented in print by the Paris publisher Durdilly. The scoring of the Trio-sérénade offers some freedom: Vinée wrote this composition for flute, English horn (or oboe or violin) and piano (or harp).

Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata in E flat major for flute and harpsichord, BWV 1031 & Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006

Johann Sebastian Bach left an undeniably extensive body of work. However, musicologists concentrate their effort on the compositions where Bach’s authorship seems somewhat questionable. This is also the case with Sonata in E flat major for flute and harpsichord, BWV 1031, for there is no surviving Bach’s autograph manuscript, only the testimony of Bach’s last student, Christian Friedrich Penzel, and a handwritten copy made by Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel, to whom it is also sometimes attributed. Other opinions are based on the similarity to a sonata by the famous flautist Johann Joachim Quantz, but Sonata in E flat major is in fact perfectly in line with the series of six flute sonatas that Johann Sebastian Bach composed during his time in Leipzig. Their structure is based on the three-part form established by Vivaldi, but they also bear – perhaps surprisingly – all the hallmarks of the contemporary gallant style.

The famous and demanding cycle of the six sonatas and partitas for solo violin was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach between 1717 and 1720 – so their beginnings date back to his stay in Weimar, and their completion to his time in Köthen. Bach was probably inspired by the Dresden virtuoso Johann Georg Pisendel and entitled the pieces Sei solo á Violino senza Basso accompagnato (Six solos for violin unaccompanied by bass) – which was not common at the time. Undoubtedly the best known of these is Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004. This is mainly due to the final magnificent Ciaccona, longer than the four preceding movements in the style of a French dance suite put together. The Partita opens with the German-inspired dance Allemanda, followed by the French Corrente, the Spanish Sarabanda and the Scottish Giga. Ciaccona, the mighty 257-bar final movement, is one of the most beautiful, well-composed and difficult movements in the violin repertoire. Its very structure is admirable: it consists of 64 variations built on a refined melodic line on a bass model. It has been suggested that with Ciaccona Bach created a tombeau (musical tombstone) for his first wife, Maria Barbara, who died in 1720. The first performers – though not in public – were probably Johann Georg Pisendel or Jean Baptiste Volumier, perhaps also Franz Benda and, of course, Johann Sebastian Bach himself. The works were first published in 1802, and Romantic composers such as Mendelssohn and Schumann sought to adapt them to contemporary tastes and provide piano accompaniment. It was not until Joseph Joachim at the end of the 19th century that the sonatas and partitas were first played publicly in their original form.

Jacques Ibert
Deux Interludes for flute, violin, and harpsichord

Jacques Ibert was a student of Gabriel Fauré at the Paris Conservatoire – like almost the entire generation of French composers of the time – and later made a significant mark on French musical life, for example, as the long-time director of the French Academy in Rome. There he spent three years as a young winner of the Prix de Rome in the early 1920s, and this is also where, in 1946, he composed Deux interludes pour flûte, violon et clavecin ou harpe (Two Interludes for flute, violin and harpsichord or harp), in which we will hear the harpsichord at today’s concert. Ibert knew how to compose for wind instruments; he is recognized for his Flute Concerto of 1934, written for Marcel Moÿse, the leading flautist of the time. (Two years later he also dedicated Pièce for solo flute to him.) Like most of Ibert’s works, the Two Interludes are characterized by clean-cut lines and an almost classical perfection of form, but despite all their refinement they contain a certain amount of piquancy and gentle humor. The first interlude is a refined sarabande, while the second interlude is reminiscent of Spanish music. Although their structure is very sophisticated, they seem to have been created with a typically French light hand. It is possible to apply Jean Cocteau’s words to this composition: “Italians and Germans love to have their music ‘done’. The French have no objection.”

Jiří Pazour
Partita for flute and harpsichord

Jiří Pazour is a composer, pianist and teacher. He creates orchestral, chamber and solo compositions which are regularly performed by leading Czech as well as foreign soloists and ensembles. Several of his compositions were awarded prizes at competitions. In 2015, The Awakening of the Pearls for violin, horn, and piano was given its American premiere at a concert organized by the Chamber Soloist of Detroit at the First Presbyterian Church of Farmington. Jiří Pazour also devotes himself to children’s music and composes incidental music for television and radio (often with genre overlaps). As a soloist, he focuses mainly on piano improvisation. He has performed in many European countries, but also in Australia, the USA, Canada, South Korea and Japan. He participates in music therapy courses. Since 1995 he has been teaching at the Prague Conservatory, where he currently conducts the courses “Sheet Music” and “Piano Improvisation” at the piano department.

Pazour noted the following about his new composition: “I wrote the Partita for flute and harpsichord in 2010, originally for flauto traverso and harpsichord, as a commission for the harpsichordist Eva Tornová; it was premiered in the same year. Later I created a version for flute and harpsichord which was recorded by Czech Radio in 2015. My intention was to compose a piece which uses and combines elements of historic and contemporary musical language, inspired by the given instrumentation. The structure of the Partita is therefore conceived in a figurative sense as an inspiration by the musical form of the time. This gave rise to this four-movement work, which intends to relate to the musical world of the past, but above all to delight both performers and listeners.”

Bohuslav Martinů
Sonata for harpsichord, H 368 & Promenades for flute, violin, and harpsichord, H 274

The two compositions by Bohuslav Martinů to be heard today were also written for specific performers. Martinů composed Promenades for flute, violins and harpsichord (or piano) H 274 in February 1939 in Paris for the trio of the famous flautist Marcel Moÿse, whose art inspired many composers. Martinů and Moÿse were actually friends; for example, they spent the summer of 1936 together with the flautist’s wife, violinist Blanche Honegger, and the harpsichordist Marcelle Delacour in Jura, near St. Amour, where the Delacour family had a chateau. The four short movements of the work are dominated by the flute, as is the case of the music by Baroque masters, and the pre-Classical period is evoked by the sound of the harpsichord. Sonata for Harpsichord, H 368, has a completely different spirit and it came into being under completely different circumstances. Martinů wrote it in 1958 for the harpsichordist Antoinette Vischer, while staying with his friends and musical patrons, the Sachers, at their residence in Schönenberg near Basel. At the end of his life, Martinů composed a concise work in three short movements, into which he put the purest essence of his musical expression and creed.

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