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19th November 2020

Klassika Plus

Lucia Maloveská

Interpretations of Má vlast have a tendency to attract a lot of attention. The opening concerts of the Prague Spring Festival, where the piece is traditionally performed, are always much anticipated and generate much discussion. More than for any other composition, exceptional performances of Má vlast are frequently remembered. Among two performances most often mentioned are Talich’s performance from 1939, which sparked such a lively reaction that Tábor and Blaník were banned for the remaining years of the protectorate, and the legendary 1990 performance conducted by Kubelík. The Czech Philharmonic is seen as a guarantee of matchless interpretation and style – if not its musicians, who else should have this music in their blood? Despite being distanced for this performance, the Orchestra managed to convey the strength and magnificence of the composition in its entirety. At the same time, Semyon Bychkov took full advantage of the monumental scale of the work, exposing both its textures and its transparency and building on the quality of the Philharmonic’s musicians.

The work opened convincingly with the poetic harp entrance at the beginning of Vyšehrad played by Barbara Pazourová and Jana Boušková. Just as its title suggests, the first symphonic poem was very noble. The carefully structured interpretation and flawless coordination drew attention to the colourful instrumental combinations. From my point of view, the second poem, the popular Vltava, probably brought the most inventive details, such as in the handling of phrasing. Bychkov conducted the poem with elegance and attention to detail, equally reflected in the way he built the melodic line. Šárka was etched very suggestively. The clearly epic character of the poem was perfectly captured by the Czech Philharmonic and the clarity of the symbols, such as Šárka’s clarinet motif played by Tomáš Kopáček, resonated. Despite the pace in the depiction of the relentless attack, the entire Orchestra showed tremendous accuracy and discipline in its articulation.

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30th September 2020

Mezzo TV focus in October

This October, the French television company Mezzo TV will cast a spotlight on Czech Philharmonic past performances with Semyon Bychkov. Broadcasting in 80 countries with a community of over 57 million subscribers, Mezzo TV will repeat broadcasts of three concerts recorded over the last two years for its two channels...

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28th September 2020

Despite safety measures imposing restrictions, exciting classical concerts are possible. Conductor Semyon Bychkov made that clear in his guest appearance with the Czech Philharmonic at the Konzerthaus in Vienna.  

He came with first class soloists, the pianist Daniil Trifonov and the trumpeter Selina Ott, and a programme that could be repeated. Due to limited number of visiting orchestras, many concerts will be given without an interval and performed twice. In Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano,Trumpet and String Orchestra in C minor, Op. 35 – Bychkov provided the soloists with an ideal soundscape leaving the pianist at the centre of power.  Trifonov was breathtakingly brilliant displaying fireworks of furious virtuosity in the fast passages, which were elicited from the Bösendorfer in an oscillating play of sound colours – bursting in the trills and runs – while alternating between cheerfulness and melancholy in the duet with the Austrian trumpeter Ott whose shining intonation won her the prestigious ARD Competition in 2018 when she was 20 years old. The way in which Shostakovich quoted a popular tune was mischievously audible, and Trifonov responded to Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic with rugged chords and rapid glissandi.  The soloists said goodbye with a transcription of Rachmaninov songs performed as an encore.   

In Dvořák‘s 8th Symphony, Bychkov let us hear what the term “authentic” really means. For the last two years he has been Chief Conductor of this traditional ensemble and it is an ideal partnership.  Playing the music of their compatriot, he let the rough sound of the strings give way to a softer sound in the manner of Tchaikovsky, full of ‘esprit’ in the catchy main theme. The applause was fulsome.  

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