Les Arts Florissants & William Christie Les Arts Florissants & William Christie Les Arts Florissants & William Christie
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Les Arts Florissants & William Christie

Date of Event

Monday, 27. 5. 2019 from 20.00
Expected end of the concert 20.00


500 - 3 400 CZK Sold out


  • Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 83 in G minor Hob. I:83 “The Hen”
  • Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major Hob. VIIb:2
  • Leopold Mozart: Sinfonia in B
  • Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 82 in C major Hob. I:82 “Bear”


  • Les Arts Florissants
  • William Christie - conductor
  • Cyril Poulet - violoncello

Concert partner


Through his vision William Christie is said to have helped to find a future course for opera by casting a bright, exploratory light on its past. Through his influence and tireless exploration he has contributed significantly to the popularity today of the historically informed interpretation of early music on period instruments; moreover, he is an indisputable authority on music of the 17th and 18th centuries. It will soon be exactly forty years since a major turning point occurred in his career, when he founded the ensemble Les Arts Florissants, which he directs to this day and which has played a pioneering role in the revival of French Baroque music.

The French vocal-instrumental ensemble Les Arts Florissants has performed at the Prague Spring on two occasions, in 1995 and 2014. “The ensemble behaves as a compact organism, and the concentration they maintained the whole evening was remarkable,” wrote a reviewer on the Opera Plus website describing their most recent Prague Spring appearance. Back then they gave a complete performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Seventh Book of Madrigals. For their upcoming concert, in keeping with the French theme of the festival, they will present the highly popular Paris symphonies by Joseph Haydn, and also the composer’s famous cello concerto. At the request of the Prague Spring, Maestro Christie has also included a symphony by Leopold Mozart to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Joseph Haydn’s six Paris Symphonies, of which the first two feature on the programme for this concert, have an intriguing history behind them. In 1779 Haydn’s contract, stipulating his role as court Kapellmeister for the Esterházy princes, was renegotiated. There was a fundamental change in that it now no longer contained any clause about the exclusive rights of his employer to his compositions. From that moment on, Haydn was at greater liberty to accept commissions from elsewhere without being penalised in any way. He was keen to make use of this opportunity, he increased his contacts with patrons, publishers and impresarios, and soon received a generous offer which came from the very centre of instrumental music – Paris. The composer was approached by Afro-French violinist, conductor, composer and famous swordsman Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, to write six symphonies for the Masonic organisation Les Concerts de la Loge Olympique, of whose orchestra he was music director. Boulogne was only the mediator for this commission, however; the chief initiative came from the orchestra’s founder, Count d’Ogny, military officer, Postmaster General in Paris, cellist, music patron and, in his time, the owner of one of the largest music collections in Europe. Haydn was offered an amount he couldn’t refuse, and an orchestra with double the number of players. Today we can only marvel at the blend of spontaneity, wit, fantasy and also profound sentiment that the composer invested in these symphonies. Symphony No. 82 in C major “The Bear” takes its name from the stirring, vigorous Finale, which evokes the atmosphere of traditional street performances where bagpipers played while tamed bears “danced”. Symphony No. 83 in G minor “The Hen” is an eccentric, in all respects belligerent work in which the composer trifles with his audience to a certain extent. He first brings in the main theme as an introduction to a tragic drama, which is then drawn into hyperbole with the comical “clucking” of the subsidiary theme heard in the oboe.

Joseph Haydn was the only composer of the First Viennese School to write concertos for the cello. Nevertheless, for almost two centuries, Concerto No. 2 for Cello and Orchestra in D major Op. 101 was attributed to the artist who premiered the work, Czech cellist and composer Antonín Kraft, before Haydn’s autograph of the score was discovered in 1951. Kraft was considered one of the finest cellists of his day, a master of intonation, technique and expression. Haydn’s concerto was certainly tailor-made for Kraft and is characteristic for its virtuosic passages, lightness and chivalrous grace. The solo part in this concerto will be entrusted to an outstanding young talent from France, the cellist Cyril Poulet. An interest in early music led this young artist to the Geneva Conservatoire, where he discovered the magic of the Baroque cello. Five years ago Poulet was selected for the programme Arts Flo Juniors, a training programme for young musicians run by the ensemble Les Arts Florissants, which is aimed at students reaching the end of their conservatoire studies. Here the cellist had a unique opportunity to experience the professional environment of historically informed interpretation, to participate in concerts and also to encounter members of the ensemble during private tuition.

In 2019 we mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Leopold Mozart, the father of brilliant children, teacher, composer and violinist. This is a figure about whom much has been written, a life that has been much misrepresented, and sorely neglected. If we leave aside the issue whether or not he was overprotective, despotic and mistrustful as a parent, or indeed extremely loving, and thus struggling internally with his disinclination to give his family their independence, he was unquestionably one of the most important and most erudite musicians in mid-18th century Salzburg. According to period sources, he was an incredibly prolific composer, although only part of his oeuvre has survived to this day and its authorship cannot always be ascertained with certainty; or, conversely, we might find his works concealed among compositions by Wolfgang. The autograph of Symphony in B flat major for strings was discovered by conductor and scholar Nikolaus Harnoncourt in a music collection kept in a parish church in Bad Aussee in Upper Austria. In this symphony Leopold Mozart reveals himself as a musician of keen spirit, charm and wit, namely the traits we appreciate so much in the works of his son Wolfgang.




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