On Wednesday, 24th June, Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic, leads the Orchestra in a performance of works by Mendelssohn, Haydn and Beethoven, which will be streamed live from Sychrov Castle, near Prague. The concert opens with Mendelssohn’s Overture and Scherzo to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, followed by Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major – with soloist Stanislav Masaryk – and closes with Beethoven’s Symphony No 5.
This is the first occasion on which Maestro Bychkov has appeared with the Czech Philharmonic since the coronavirus pandemic began, and now that borders across the Schengen area are re-opening, it represents a celebration of the resurgence of culture in the Czech Republic. Throughout lockdown, the Orchestra has been presenting a series of fundraising chamber concerts, starting with just two players in masks, and building gradually to this performance with 62 musicians – far short of the full complement of 124 members of the Czech Philharmonic – but a significant step towards a return to normality.
The performance will be streamed live from the grounds of the beautiful and historic Neo-Gothic Sychrov Castle, near Prague, before an audience of 500. Sychrov Castle’s history dates back to the 15th century, but the second half of the 19th century represented the Castle’s golden era – a time during which the original Baroque edifice was rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style, and it became the residence of princes of the French Rohan family. Construction work has been ongoing since the early 1990s to restore Sychrov to its former glory. With the largest collection of French portraits in Central Europe, the castle has luxuriously furnished interiors and a large English-style park.
Semyon Bychkov is much in demand as both a concert and an opera conductor. In addition to serving as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, Principal Guest Conductor of the St Petersburg Philharmonic, and Chief Conductor of both the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and the Dresden Semperoper, he has appeared as a guest conductor with many of the world’s leading orchestras, and has long-term relationships with world-renowned opera houses, including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the New York Metropolitan, La Scala, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Vienna State Opera and the Paris Opera.
One of Maestro Bychkov’s most notable undertakings at the Czech Philharmonic has been the completion of his Tchaikovsky Project, which started in 2015 before his appointment to the Orchestra. In August 2019, Decca Classics released this series of recordings in a box set, which features all of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, his three piano concertos, the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini. Semyon Bychkov has also led Tchaikovsky residencies with the Orchestra in Prague, Tokyo, Vienna and Paris in 2019, and, in the same year, led the Czech Philharmonic at the BBC Proms for the first time as Chief Conductor and Music Director.
The soloist in this online performance is the rising young Slovakian trumpeter Stanislav Masaryk, who joins the Czech Philharmonic as first trumpeter in September 2020. Currently first trumpeter of the National Theatre Opera Orchestra in Prague, Stanislav Masaryk was a one-time member of the jazz orchestra known as the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, before joining the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra for a three-year term. Still appearing as a guest soloist with this orchestra, Masaryk has also guested with the Slovak Philharmonic, the Slovak Chamber Orchestra of Bohdan Warchal, Košice State Philharmonic, Cappella Istropolitana, the State Chamber Orchestra Žilina, and with the chamber symphony orchestras of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and the Slovak Youth Orchestra.
In Maestro Bychkov’s words, “Even more than ever we all need the kind of music that is life affirming, that simply carries the joy of living, the strength of the human spirit and its capacity to absorb the losses that come its way. The music of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Haydn ….. represents exactly the life we lead, the challenges we face and our ability to overcome them. Welcome to our Celebration of Life!”.
Semyon Bychkov leads the Czech Philharmonic in a live concert on Wednesday 24th June from 8.00 pm CET, which will be streamed on the Czech Philharmonic’s Facebook page. It will also be broadcast live on Czech TV.
Information sourced from:
Czech Philharmonic programme notes