Grimaud and the Czech Philharmonic
Friday 12 April
Jiří Bělohlávek conductor
Hélène Grimaud piano
|Smetana||From Bohemia’s Meadows and Forests||14’|
|Beethoven||Piano Concerto No 5, Emperor||40’|
|Dvořák||Symphony No 7||37’|
Czech Phil’s encore – Dvořák
Dvořák’s powerfully dramatic Seventh Symphony is preceded by Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto (completing this season’s cycle of piano concertos), played by celebrity guest Hélène Grimaud. Beethoven composed the piece as Napoleon’s guns thundered across Vienna; its nobility and grandeur never fail to carry audiences away.
Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:
The Czech Philharmonic orchestra gave some of their earliest concerts under Dvořák himself. His symphonies and music like Smetana’s From Bohemia’s Meadows and Forests are part of the orchestra’s great tradition, capturing the spirit of the Czech people and their folk music.
6.15pm Free pre-concert conversation with Lyndon Jenkins and Jiří Bělohlávek.
Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post
Click here for full article
… ” “It is our goal to bring the fame of Czech music to the broadest audiences worldwide,” says Jiri, as he tell me about the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra’s ambassadorial activities. “Every year the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra spends quite a number of days on tours. As our orchestra plays an important role in the music life in Prague, we have to divide our activities among our subscription series, special projects, educative concerts, recording, and so on. Our policy is to reserve up to approximately 40 concerts per season for international touring,” he says.” …
Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:
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… “Often eclipsed by the ever popular Ninth ‘New World’ Symphony, No 7 still remains a heart-warming and enjoyable piece of music.
It also demonstrates Dvorak’s talent for blending harmonies, for building on themes and forrevelling in a good tune. No 7 is full of life and vigour as it dances along, bouncing themes back and forth between strings, woodwind and brass, all working together towards its rousing finale.
It is clearly loved by the Czech Philharmonic and conductor Jiri Belohlavek who seemed to greet it like an old friend, quickly embracing its colour and tone and capturing its energy beautifully.” …
… “Matters improved in the lovely central Adagio with orchestra and soloist coming together as one. Grimaud displayed a real depth of feeling here and the seamless transition into the rollicking final Rondo was utterly convincing. This was taken at quite a lick and, despite the last degree of unanimity between soloist and orchestra being again absent, the concerto came to an agreeable conclusion.
The orchestra was back on home territory for Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony. The placement of the violas on the outside right of the orchestra meant that these highly vocal and sweet-sounding players were heard in all their glory throughout the symphony, not least in the opening of the piece. Bělohlávek’s interpretation was for the most part straightforward and quite hard driven. The climaxes in all the movements were tremendously exciting with horns and trumpets tastefully given their heads.”
Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:
Click here for full review
… “This orchestra is intimately acquainted with the terrain, both musical and natural, and with Jiří Bělohlávek at the helm this traversal had depth and power.
It whetted my appetite for a complete performance of Smetana’s epic Má Vlast from this team. Having recently heard their 1992 recording of Dvorak’s seventh symphony it seems Bělohlávek’s interpretation hasn’t changed substantially in 20 years.
There’s no reason it should since it’s one that’s beautifully balanced between Dvorak’s desire to compose a more highly-structured Brahmsian symphony and his ineliminable Bohemian roots.