Riccardo Chailly is a living legend on the conductor’s rostrum. He returns to the Prague Spring after almost a quarter of a century to take up his baton as Principal Conductor of one of Italy’s most famous orchestras, Filarmonica della Scala, based at La Scala opera house in Milan. Joining him for his festival programme is a musical phenomenon currently enjoying a skyrocketing career, pianist Alexander Malofeev. The artist, who celebrates his 23rd birthday in 2024, will perform the melodic Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in B flat minor by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; the second half of the concert will be devoted to symphonic music by Leoš Janáček and Sergei Prokofiev.
Chailly first heard Alexander Malofeev almost ten years ago, at La Scala. “He was only fourteen yet he amazed me with his talent,“ he recalled for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “Because he was not just a child prodigy: he was very young, but already possessed depth and technical abilities. He is very musical and has a superb memory, which makes him an excellent performer.” Malofeev’s career began a year earlier when, as a 13-year-old, he won the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. Born in Russia, the pianist currently lives in Berlin and, in spite of his age, he is recognised for his incredible accomplishments to date. Alongside Chailly he has worked with the likes of conductors Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Michael Tilson Thomas, Susanna Mälkki and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. This season, for instance, sees him appearing in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and in New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The Filarmonica della Scala is possibly the most famous opera orchestra in the world. Over the years they have been led by such illustrious conducting names as Arturo Toscanini, Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Claudio Abbado and Daniel Barenboim.
Riccardo Chailly has stood at the helm of the orchestra since 2015. Before that he conducted a series of celebrated world orchestras, among them the Berlin, Vienna and New York Philharmonics. As Chief Conductor he is etched into the history books of both the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Under his direction the orchestra at Milan’s La Scala continues to flourish not only in the operatic sphere but also in the performance of the symphonic repertoire.
Among others, their Prague concert confirms the fact that the orchestra has opera in its DNA. The second half of the programme will open with Jealousy, which Leoš Janáček originally planned as the overture to his opera Jenufa. The concert will culminate in a performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3, in which the Russian composer treated material from his opera The Fiery Angel; the work is based on the novel of the same name by Valery Bryusov, which tells a passionate story of love, demonic obsession and sorcery.