Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich
Kapelník Strunokřídlý
Hmatník Brahmsův
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Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich

Honegger / Britten / Rimskij-Korsakov

Date of Event

Tuesday, 22. 5. 2018 from 20.00
Expected end of the concert 22.00

Price

450 - 4 000 CZK Sold out

Program

  • Arthur Honegger: Rugby H 67
  • Benjamin Britten: Piano Concerto Op. 13
  • Nikolaj Rimskij-Korsakov: Scheherazade op. 35

Interprets

  • Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich
  • Lionel Bringuier - conductor
  • Leif Ove Andsnes - piano

Partners of the concert

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According to the Wall Street Journal, the world famous pianist Leif Ove Andsnese regarded as “one of the most gifted musicians of his generation”. This native of Norway is well known to the Prague Spring public from previous years, and he is returning to Prague accompanied by the Swiss orchestra Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich under the baton of a leading representative of the younger generation of conductors, Lionel Bringuier. Together, they will perform the Piano Concerto Op. 13 by the English composer Benjamin Britten, an extraordinary work.

Programme note

Rugby (1928) is one of the best known works by Arthur Honegger (1892-1955), a member of the Parisian group “les Six”. These six composers were allied in their opposition to Wagnerism and Impressionism. In an effort to bring elements of music into everyday life, the aesthetic of “les Six” tended towards the milieu of the circus, cabaret, and outdoor market. As the title suggests, Rugby is a musical depiction of the sport for which it is named, and the game’s excitement, aggression, and movement leaps out of every bar.

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) wrote his Piano Concerto Op. 13 in the spring of 1938. Its original designation as “No. 1” is no longer used, because the composer never wrote another work in the genre. The composer wrote the piece for his own use on the occasion of Henry Wood’s festival of promenade concerts, now known as the BBC Proms, where Britten gave the work its premiere that August. The four-movement work, which the composer himself described as virtuosic, is literally a test of the soloist’s technical skill, especially in the first movement – Toccata. It opens with a sequence of octave runs, beneath which the accompaniment of woodwind instruments throbs. The second movement, Waltz, is lightly ironic; the theme is carried by the viola, which is joined by the clarinet. In the contrasting Trio, glockenspiel joins the orchestral tutti. The third movement, Impromptu, was added in 1945 to replace the original Recitative and Aria, and Britten found inspiration for it in the music for the radio play King Arthur, which he composed in 1937. The concluding March evokes fear of the approaching war.

Scheherazade Op. 35 is a marvellous example of how close Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) felt to the fanciful world of fairytales. This attractive symphonic suite, perhaps better described as a cycle of tone poems, gives a colourful depiction of the atmosphere of the Far East and of the sea, which the composer loved, having been a naval captain as a young man. The story of the lovely Scheherazade telling the malevolent sultan one of her fairytales each evening is, above all, a vehicle for Rimsky-Korsakov’s amazing, colourful tone painting, showing the best side of his mature musical language: brilliant orchestration. The whole work is unified by the attractive motif of Scheherazade, which is present in all of the movements and accompanies the listeners through the individual tales from the Thousand and One Nights.

The concertmaster discusses the violin solos in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade

I love Scheherazade because it gives the concertmaster some of the most beautiful violin solos ever written. The solos can be played freely, which is rare in the orchestral repertoire. This freedom allows you to shape and phrase the melody with very little or no direction from the conductor. Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite is musical storytelling at its best. It is based on One Thousand and One Nights, the tale of the princess Sheherazade, who has to amuse her husband the Sultan by relating a collection of tales and adventures to avoid having her head chopped off – as had been the fate of her predecessors.

The Sultan commands: ‘Unless you tell me fantastic stories, your life will end quickly.’ As Scheherazade’s voice, your violin must enchant, and the power of this musical seduction depends on the quality of sound, colour and phrasing. Many of the passages are written around scales, so our challenge is to reach beyond the notes and rhythms and to touch something far more graceful.

About the performers

The orchestra Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich began to take shape back in the middle of the nineteenth century, when society in Zurich was engaged in lively discussion over the necessity of having a permanent orchestral ensemble. The first of its kind was the Orchesterverein, founded in 1862, followed by the Tonhalle Zürich, which quickly developed into a professional orchestra under the leadership of its conductor Friedrich Hegar. Since then, the orchestra has enjoyed an outstanding reputation. Among its chief conductors have been Rudolf Kempe, Christoph Eschenbach, and David Zinman. Lionel Bringuier has been at its helm since the 2014/2015 season.

Lionel Bringuier

The Financial Times

“A natural talent whose good instincts are bolstered by good taste plus a strong technique.”(

The Financial Times

The French conductor Lionel Bringuier is a prominent figure of the rising generation. A native of Nice, he studied cello and conducting at the Paris Conservatory, where his teachers included Philippe Muller. In 2005, he was the winner at the prestigious conducting competition in Besançon, France, and in 2007 he became the assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was appointed by Esa-Pekka Salonen. As a guest conductor, he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, and a number of other orchestras.

Leif Ove Andsnes

The New York Times

“…a pianist of magisterial elegance, power, and insight…”

The New York Times

During his career of many years, the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has appeared in concert halls all around the world. He is a graduate of the conservatory in Bergen, where he studied under Prof. Jiří Hlinka. In past years, he dazzled audiences with his unique project titled “The Beethoven Journey”, as part of which he composed the complete series of Beethoven piano concertos over a period of four seasons. Prague Spring played a major part in this grandiose project, with most of the music having been recorded at the festival concerts. Besides his solo career, he also devotes himself intensively to playing chamber music and to recording activity, for which he has been nominated for a Grammy eight times. At present, he is an exclusive recording artist for the label Sony Classical.