At the end of September, the Czech Philharmonic orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek will perform at Bratislava Music Festival and in Linz, Austria. Performing the solo part in Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 will be Behzod Abduraimov and Václav Mácha.
Described by The Times as the “master of all he surveys” and with The Washington Post noting to “keep your ear on this one”, Behzod’s captivating performances continue to receive international praise.
Recent seasons have seen Behzod work with leading orchestras worldwide, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, NHK Symphony and prestigious conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Valery Gergiev, Manfred Honeck, Vasily Petrenko, James Gaffigan, Osmo Vänskä, Thomas Dausgaard and Vladimir Jurowski. He also toured China with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and performed at the Festival Piano aux Jacobins in recital and in concert with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under Tugan Sokhiev.
Continuing his collaboration with The Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev, last season Behzod performed in their Prokofiev Piano Concerto cycle at concerts in Stockholm, Vienna and Dortmund. This was followed by a major tour of the US with them, which included his impressive concerto debut at Carnegie Hall. Shortly afterwards he gave his recital debut in the Weill Hall as part of the “Distinctive Debuts” series which resulted in an immediate reinvitation to the Stern Auditorium.
Behzod’s upcoming European highlights include concert debuts with the Münchner Philharmoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the Gothenburg Symphony. In recital Behzod is one of the featured artists for the Junge Wilde series at the Konzerthaus Dortmund for the next three years, and also gives recitals at Wigmore Hall, London; Salle Gaveau, Paris; MünchenMusik and AMG Konzerte Basel.
In the US, Behzod will make his debut with Seattle and Dallas Symphony orchestras and returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In recital he will appear as part of the People’s Symphony Concerts, New York; Tuesday Evening Concert Series, Virginia; Shriver Hall Concert Series, Baltimore; Spivey Hall, Atlanta and the Washington Performing Arts Series.
An award-winning recording artist – his debut recital CD won both the Choc de Classica and the Diapason Découverte – Behzod released his first concerto disc in 2014 on Decca Classics which features Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai under Juraj Valčuha.
Born in Tashkent in 1990 Behzod began to play the piano at the age of five. He was a pupil of Tamara Popovich at the Uspensky State Central Lyceum in Tashkent, and studied with Stanislav Ioudenitch at the International Center for Music at Park University, Kansas City, where he is now Artist in Residence.
Václav Mácha was born in 1979 in Prague. At the age of 15, he became the youngest student of the Faculty of Music of the Academy of Performing Arts, attending the class of Ivan Moravec. After graduating, he studied with Karl-Heinz Kammerling at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover, which he completed in 2001 before continuing to study the solo piano as a postgraduate.
He has garnered successes at international competitions, given numerous recitals at the largest concert venues in Prague and other cities throughout the Czech Republic (when he was 15 years old, he gave an independent recital at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum), across Europe, as well as in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Turkey and elsewhere in Asia. He has performed with the Czech Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Suk Chamber Orchestra, Czech Chamber Orchestra, Hradec Králové Philharmonic, and with distinguished conductors (Bělohlávek, Kukal, Turnovský, Eliška, Koutník, Eiji Oue, Naoshi Takahashi, Kiyotaka Teraoka, etc.), soloists and ensembles (Josef Suk, Václav Hudeček, Ivan Ženatý, Jaroslav Svěcený, Bohumil Kotmel, Stamic Quartet, Czech Nonet, etc.). In 2009 he appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London as a soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms festival. He has been a member of the Czech Philharmonic since 2012.
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70,one of Antonín Dvořák’s masterworks, was written at the invitation of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London, which made the composer an honorary member in 1884. At that time Dvořák already enjoyed in England the unshakeable position as one of the greatest living composers. In late November 1884, he completed the score of his cantata, The Spectre’s Bride, and since the Philharmonic Society planned to present the world premiere of Dvořák’s new symphony – to be conducted by the composer – as early as the spring of the next year, he quickly started work on it. He completed the opus within three months and on 22 April 1885 he could introduce it at a Philharmonic Society concert in St James’s Hall, London.
The dramatic, sombre atmosphere of the Seventh Symphony, rich in ideas and a masterpiece of form, is often put into the context of the Czech nation’s struggle for identity within the multinational Habsburg Empire. Even if we abstract from the possible connections with the social, cultural and political situations of the Czechs at the time, we see that the symphony’s message is readily intelligible as a general statement about human existence.
The opening movement – Allegro maestoso – unusually starts in pianissimo with a plaintive, gloomy main theme in violas and cellos. The auxiliary theme, in B flat major, brings a sudden change of atmosphere, but its clarity is soon disrupted: the internal struggle continues and the doubts are far from being dispelled. Despite an airy melody presented by the clarinet, the lyrical second movement gradually develops an increasingly urgent and agitated aspect. The third movement that follows – Scherzo – is perhaps the work’s best-known. It is distinguished by a strong rhythm in its main theme, but its carefree dance character is dampened both by the D minor tonality and a contrasting countermelody, adding a certain melancholy to its liveliness. Like the opening Allegro maestoso, the final movement is in sonata form. After a dramatic surge, the gloomy atmosphere lightens up – it is as if the conclusion, in D major, symbolised a firm determination and a convincing victory of the will.
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