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FOK, Popelka & Romberger

Programme

  • Rafael Kubelík: Sequences
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Lieder des Abschieds op. 14
  • Vítězslav Novák: Pan Op. 43

Performers

  • Prague Symphony Orchestra
  • Gerhild Romberger - alto
  • Petr Popelka - conductor

Price

450 - 900 CZK

Date

29 / 05 / 2022
Sunday 20.00
Expected end of the event 21.30
Rozkvět Pražského jara

Great musical universality

Despite the pandemic, over a mere two seasons Petr Popelka has become one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation. Double bassist of the celebrated Staatskapelle Dresden for many years, he is currently Principal Conductor of the Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava, and Chief Conductor designate of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. He will be joining the Prague Symphony Orchestra for his first appearance at the Prague Spring. The concert programme will bring together three composers who were born in different parts of what is now the Czech Republic. “A native of Brno, Erich Wolfgang Korngold is familiar today – both at home and abroad – chiefly for his inspired film music, yet he also wrote wonderful works for the concert platform, such as his Abschiedslieder,” says Prague Spring Programme Director Josef Třeštík. The work will be performed by world famous mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger. “I am very much looking forward to my first collaboration with Petr Popelka, a great colleague and musician of whom I have already heard so many positive things,” the soloist herself adds. “Korngold’s Songs of Farewell promise a musically enchanting, intimate and, at the same time, melancholic and beautiful evening – I can hardly wait!” she confides. “In my opinion Gerhild Romberger is unquestionably the ideal singer for this music,” states Petr Popelka ahead of their collaboration. I first heard her in Mahler’s songs with Mariss Jansons. Her powers of expression and her voice are simply made for Korngold’s music,” he concludes. Listeners will also have the opportunity to gain an insight into the little known compositional legacy of Rafael Kubelík. “Kubelík is something of an institution in music,” says Popelka. “Both Jan and Rafael were world-class artists. Rafael is one of my musical role models. I say “musical”, rather than “conducting” – it’s his great musical universality I’m referring to.” The evening’s programme will culminate in the rarely performed tone poem Pan by Vítězslav Novák. “In Novák’s works – and especially in Pan – is a beauty that deserves to live,” states Popelka, explaining why he chose this work.

“You can’t take your eyes off him”

In the space of a few years Petr Popelka (1986) has established himself as one of the most inspirational young conductors not only in the Czech Republic but also in Europe. He was originally a double bass player, and from 2010 to 2019 he worked as deputy principal bass of the Staatskapelle Dresden, where he had the chance to perform under some of the world’s most distinguished conductors. He is currently Principal Conductor of the Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava. At the start of the 2022/23 season he will assume the post of Chief Conductor of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the current season he is making guest appearances with such ensembles as the Staatskapelle Dresden, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the HR-Sinfonieorchester and Dresden’s Semperoper. Petr Popelka holds the Gstaad Menuhin Festival Academy’s Neeme Järvi Prize for the year 2017. His conducting mentors include Alan Gilbert, Vladimir Kiradjiev, Jaap van Zweden and Peter Eötvös. The conducting skills of Petr Popelka are also applauded by the critics. In a review for KlasikaPlus, Petr Veber described him as a “conducting phenomenon”: “He is well able to communicate with his players through his gaze and his gestures, he tirelessly and continually shapes and shifts the music – and, without really trying, he has a wonderful way with his audience as well, helping them to orient themselves in the music. You can’t take your eyes off him. He is exceptionally musical, he paints and crafts his gestures, he carefully leaves his musicians to play out the slightest emotions and the subtlest of sighs, he is swift to demonstrate and encourage, he leans in and steps forward with urgency. And then he glances behind him in surprise, now seeing how far away he has moved from his little railing…

Song recitals

Gerhild Romberger is highly sought after on the concert platform. She focuses on song recitals, while her repertoire incorporates the major alto and mezzo-soprano parts in oratorios and concert works dating from the Baroque, Classicism and Romanticism to the 20th century. Antonín Dvořák also plays a significant role in her career. Key engagements in recent years have seen her appearing in concert with Manfred Honeck, who invited her to perform Mahler symphonies and Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. She has sung with the Berlin Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Herbert Blomstedt, and with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester under Riccardo Chailly. Highlights of Gerhild Romberger’s current season include a song recital with violist Tabea Zimmermann at the Berlin Philharmonie or the role of Erda in a production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold in Amsterdam and Cologne, conducted by Kent Nagano.

Gerhild Romberger
FOK_Brauner_FOTO_petr_dyrc

Programme Notes

Czech conductor Rafael Kubelík (1914–1996), the son of violin virtuoso Jan Kubelík, laid the foundations of the Prague Spring when he initiated its founding and, as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, conducted the very first festival concert on 11 May 1946; the following day he led the principal Czech orchestra in a performance of Smetana’s My Country.

Listen to a sample from Novák’s symphonic poem Pan