The young Czech oboist Martin Daněk (*1989) is a laureate of the 2019 Prague Spring International Music Competition. Besides the prize money, perhaps the most valuable part of the award is the invitation to perform at the next annual Prague Spring Festival. “I’ve been living abroad for a long time, and playing in my own country is always something special”, says Mr. Daněk. “This is especially true in the case of Prague Spring, with its festive atmosphere, which I remember from my childhood. The combinations of instruments and works on this programme will be unusual, so it will be a unique experience for both the audience and the performers.” Daněk is a graduate of the prestigious Hanns Eisler University of Music in Berlin, where he studied under Dominik Wollenweber and Jonathan Kelly (both members of the Berlin Philharmonic). He also received tuition from the renowned Jean-Louis Capezzali in Lausanne, Switzerland. This deepened the solid music education that he had received at Jan Neruda Grammar School, where he was taught oboe by Markéta Tichá, Pavel Tylšar, and Jana Brožková.
As a student, he undertook several tours as the first oboist of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, performing at some of the greatest venues of the world (BBC Proms London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Salzburger Festspiele, Carnegie Hall in New York). In 2014–16 he was part of the Orchestral Academy of the Zurich Opera, subsequently functioning as an oboe soloist in a number of orchestras, including the Bergen Philharmonic or the Finnish Radio Symphony. After spending a year in the Basel Symphony Orchestra, he joined the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in August 2019. Since September 2020 he has been a member of the orchestra of the Zurich Opera led by the world-famous conductor Fabio Luisi, who will be succeeding another important conductor, Gianandrea Noseda, as chief conductor. Daněk has had professional encounters with such eminent conductors as Sir Colin Davis, Sir Simon Rattle, Herbert Blomstedt, and Christoph Eschenbach.
He has prepared a truly exquisite programme for his Prague Spring recital by combining the music of French Baroque masters with the works of modern composers who work with early music. The oboist explains, “The linking of music across time, as will be the case with our concert, fascinates me, and it shows how timeless music is. French music really inspires me – especially French baroque music. This is probably in part because the oboe as we now know it comes from France – its sound suits this music so well.” Thomas Adès´s affinity for Francois Couperin is evidenced both by a number of immensely original arrangements and by Sonata da caccia, for which he chose a combination of oboe, French horn, and harpsichord – the same performing forces that Debussy intended to use for one of his final sonatas. “The work can be understood as a tribute to Debussy and Couperin, similarly to how the latter of the two wrote the Apotheosis of Corelli or the Apotheosis of Lully,” says Adès. In a similar vein, Henri Dutilleux’s retrospective of the Renaissance master Clément Janequin traverses the works of the prematurely deceased organist and composer Jehan Alain. “The way that Dutilleux and Adés draw upon the music of composers of different epochs is truly remarkable”, says Daněk.