Fibich / Suchoň / Janáček
Date of EventSunday, 3. 6. 2018 from 20.00
Expected end of the concert 21.45
Event placeMunicipal House – Smetana Hall
Price400 - 2 100 CZK Sold out
- Zdeněk Fibich: Comenius op. 34
- Eugen Suchoň: Psalm of the Carpathian Land Op. 12
- Leoš Janáček: Sinfonietta
- Slovak Philharmonic
- James Judd - conductor
- Jan Vacík - tenor
- Jozef Chabroň - choirmaster
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Order refreshments at intermission and avoid standing in a queue! During concert intermissions at the Municipal House, the Mastercard Lounge with a special menu will be open to Mastercard holders. You will receive a voucher entitling you the enter the salon, which is otherwise restricted.
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The main line of dramaturgy throughout the festival will be commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. Naturally, a Czechoslovak accent will appear in the programme of the concluding concert as well. An interesting dialogue will be heard between two classics of Czech and Slovak music of the twentieth century– Eugen Suchoň and Leoš Janáček. For the shaping of Slovak cultural identity, Psalm of the Carpathian Land has in many ways an importance similar to Má vlast for the Czech identity. In the case of Janáček’s Sinfonietta, its creation falls within the first decade of the independent Czechoslovak state.
1892 saw the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of the philosopher and thinker John Amos Comenius, known as the teacher of the nations, who was born on the border between Moravia and Slovakia. For the occasion, Zdeněk Fibich (1850-1900) composed his Comenius Festival Overture Op. 34. After a grand introduction, a chorale melody is heard from Comenius’s Amsterdam Hymnbook of 1659, which Fibich ties in with a constantly developing, lyrical melody of his own, surrounded by other musical ideas. After the return of the opening fanfares, the melodies all come together at the conclusion in a festive, sonically magnificent apotheosis.
Eugen Suchoň (1908-1993) laid the foundations for modern Slovak music, and his oeuvre is now part of the legacy of classical music of twentieth-century Europe. By his essence a dramatist, he draws on the contrasts between rhapsodic freedom and a classically shaped foundation, extra-musical inspiration and the principles of absolute music. His entire oeuvre consists of a uniquely integrated and intellectually homogenous complex, in which “every note of the music is written in the blood of his heart” (Igor Vajda).
Psalm of the Carpathian Land Op. 12, the first of Suchoň’s masterpieces, has rightly earned its reputation as the most important and most beautiful of all Slovak vocal symphonic works. The composer was captivated by the concluding poem of the collection Vítr z Polonin (The Wind of Poloniny) by Jaroslav Zatloukal. With the author’s permission, Suchoň translated and arranged the poem. He reshaped its almost resigned, balladic mood into the form of a deep, artistic, and broadly humanistic message. He entrusted the dominant role to the orchestra, while the choir and soloists merely make the music concrete with words. The ballad-like, dramatic music full of tragedy and defiance as well as bitter lyricism gradually transforms itself until the concluding section: “O beautiful, tearful land, let us dream of the spring that comes from the rain of flowers.”
Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) completed the Sinfonietta, his last orchestral work, in April 1926. The Sinfonietta had a number of immediate stimuli: vivid recollections of a military promenade concert in Písek, repeated requests from the newspaper Lidové noviny for a musical motif, ideally fanfares, for an upcoming Sokol festival, and his own desire to create a tribute to his beloved and despised city, Brno. He deliberated of the work for a long time, changing the subtitles (military, Sokol), which he ultimately rejected, before his conception matured into its final, extraordinarily pregnant form, framed by the celebratory sounds of brass ensemble and timpani.
Janáček wrote his Sinfonietta, as was his custom for all of his works, directly in full score, drawing the staves by hand on loose leaf sheets of paper. He associated his musical ideas with a concretely imagined idealisation of pure instrumental colours, which are the carriers of the emotional message in his orchestral works, because the instruments substitute for human voices. Janáček’s Sinfonietta was given its premiere by the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Václav Talich on 26 June in Prague at the Eighth All-Sokol Festival, and since then it has been played on ceremonial occasions, such as this concluding festival concert.
The British conductor James Judd studied at London’s Trinity College, and after graduation he became Lorin Maazel’s assistant in Cleveland. He returned to Europe two years later, becoming the executive director of the European Community Youth Orchestra, the chief conductor of which was then Claudio Abbado. For eight years, he was the music director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and he collaborated as the chief guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille and the Adelaide Symphony. In 2008 he founded the Miami Music Project, which supports education and upbringing for children from various social classes with the financial support of the John and James Knight Foundation.
Jan Vacík is a graduate of the Prague Conservatory (violin, oboe, composition), and he began to study singing after immigrating to Munich in 1985, where he was trained under the guidance of Elsa Domberger-Widmayer. After her death, he departed for Italy (Carl Bergonzi), where he received a scholarship to study at the Academia Verdiana and later at the Corale Verdi in Parma. He made is debut at La Scala in Milan in the role of Pollux, and from 1988 to 1993 he sang at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He has made guest appearances on many opera stages around the world (Tokyo, Rome, Vienna, Lyon) under such conductors as Sir Charles Mackerass, Richardo Mutti, Jiří Bělohlávek, and many others.
The Slovak Philharmonic was founded in 1949. Taking part in its subsequent artistic development were the chief conductors Tibor Frešo, Libor Pešek, and Ondrej Lenárd, who held the post of chief conductor and music director from 1991 to 2001. Among the orchestra’s guest conductors have been Claudio Abbado, Karel Ančerl, Mariss Jansons, and Neeme Järvi. Besides making recordings for radio, television, music publishers (OPUS, Supraphon etc.), the orchestra gives concerts regularly both in Slovakia and abroad (Japan, South Korea, USA).
Jozef Chabroň is a graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, where he studied under Blanka Juhaňáková. He has been working with the Slovak Philharmonic Choir since 2006. One of his greatest successes was rehearsing Schoenberg’s complete opera Moses und Aron for the Zurich Opera (2011) and preparing the choir to perform in a production of Mussorgsky’s opera Khovanshcnina with the Vienna State Opera. In the 2017/2018 season, it will collaborate with the BBC Proms, the Vienna State Opera, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Dortmunder Philharmoniker.
The Slovak Philharmonic Choir is a prominent representative of professional choral artistry in Slovakia. Among the many renowned conductors to collaborate with the choir have been Serge Baudo, Zubin Mehta, Libor Pešek, and Esa Pekka-Salonen. Besides its regular concert activities at home, the choir goes on tour frequently each year, mostly around Europe, but also to Morocco, Turkey, and Japan. Its large discography includes recordings for Slovak and foreign television, radio, and renowned recording labels (Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Sony).