This week the Czech Philharmonic celebrates the opening performances of its 125th season. Led by Chief Conductor and Music Director, Semyon Bychkov, the concerts – dedicated to the memory of Czech conductor, violinist and violist Václav Neumann – feature guest artists Daniil Trifonov and trumpeter Selina Ott in the Shostakovich Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, and Dvořák’s Symphony No 8 – the composer himself having conducted the Czech Philharmonic during its early years.
Václav Neumann – whose centennial falls on 29th September – is described by Semyon Bychkov as “one of the great musical directors of the Czech Philharmonic”, who was held in high regard, and with much affection, by members of the orchestra. A great champion of Czech music – and regarded as a specialist of the music of Dvořák – Neumann held this role for a total of 25 years, in three separate tenures, between 1948 and 1993.
Daniil Trifonov – piano virtuoso and composer – is, according to The Times of London, “without question the most astounding pianist of our age”. The LA Times describes him as “an astonishing pianist”, and the New York Times says: “Few artists have burst onto the classical music scene in recent years with the incandescence of the pianist Daniil Trifonof”. Since winning the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Russian-born Mr Trifonov has added to his list of honours the 2016 Gramophone Award for Artist of the Year, a Grammy for the Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018, and in 2019 was named Musical America’s Artist of the Year. Much in demand by many of the world’s major orchestras, he has recently completed a season-long tenure as 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic, during which he performed in the New York premiere of his own Piano Quintet.
Joining Daniil Trifonov for this performance is young Austrian trumpeter Selina Ott, herself an award-winning artist. An eight-time winner of the Austrian prima la musica prize at regional and national level, Ms Ott took first prize at the 2017 Lions Music Prize, and in 2018, at the age of 20, won the ARD Interntional Music Competition in Munich – the first woman to do so in the seventy-year history of the competition. As well as appearing with the Czech Philharmonic, she has been invited to perform with leading orchestras such as the WDR Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, and at international festivals such as the Bachfest Leipzig, Rheingau Musik Festival, Festival Emergents Barcelona and Musikfest Bremen.
Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his first piano concerto – scored for the unusual combination of string orchestra and trumpet – for himself to play. Melodic, jazzy, light-hearted, somewhat irreverent, and at times introspective, this infectiously pleasing work offers a fascinating insight into the character of the composer. The concerto was premiered on the 15th of October, 1933, at the Leningrad Philharmonic Bolshoi Hall, with the composer as piano soloist, Alexander Schmidt on trumpet, and Fritz Stiedry conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.
Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony was written during the summer and early autumn of 1889, mainly at his summer residence in Vysoka, an environment in which he was most at ease. The symphony is reflective of the composer’s appreciation of nature as well as his love for Czech and Slavonic folk music. Performed for the first time in Prague’s Rudolfinum on 2 February 1890, by the National Theatre Orchestra, the symphony was conducted by the composer. Dvořák also led the performance of the symphony’s British premiere in London, on 24th April of the same year, at a concert hosted by the Philharmonic Society in St. James’s Hall. At both premieres the symphony was a resounding success, in the eyes of both the public and the critics.
Semyon Bychkov leads the Czech Philharmonic in performances of the Shostakovich Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, and the Symphony No 8 by Dvořák, in the Dvořák Hall at the Rudolfinum in Prague on 23rd and 24th September. Tickets may be booked online. For further information visit the Czech Philharmonic website.
The concert on the 24th of September will be broadcasted by Mezzo Live HD and ČT art.
Information sourced from:
Czech Philharmonic programme notes
Dmitri Shostakovich – Piano Concerto No 1
Antonin Dvořák – Symphony No 8
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