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28th June 2019

The Tchaikovsky Project boxset available to pre-order

The Tchaikovsky Project boxset from Decca Classics is now available to pre-order. The seven-volume edition – officially released on 30 August – features all of the composer’s symphonies, the three piano concertos with Kirill Gerstein, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings and Francesca da Rimini:

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31st May 2019

Summer news

Over the summer months, Semyon Bychkov will return to the Royal Concertgebouw in June and the Bayreuth Festival in July. On 19-20 June, he conducts the Concertgebouw in Glanert’s Weites Land, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D and three movements from Smetana’s Má vlast. From 30 July, he leads the Bayreuth...

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29th May 2019


Michael Bastian Weiß

There is an interesting detail right at the beginning:  the two harps are sitting far away in the Philharmonie, one on each side of the stage.  In “Vysehrad” the first tone poem in his cycle “Má vlast – my homeland”, Smetana had to decide whether the input theme and the subsequent cadences should be performed by a single player, fitting the profile of the self-accompanying bard, or whether the elements should be distributed between the two instruments.


In the way that Semyon Bychkov conducts the passage with the Munich Philharmonic harps, there are pretty echo effects: as if at the beginning a second voice was answering the first.


In the subsequent poem, the popular “Vltava”, the two flutes which symbolize the two springs from which the river flows, can also be heard distinctly each from the other.  And, it was similar also with the semi-staged solo performances of the instruments throughout the performance of the six tone poems.


Throughout, Bychkov achieved a unified sound with the Munich Philharmonic.  Although intimidating in their massive appearance, the double basses in the final two parts “Tábor” and “Blaník” – featuring the sublime Hussite chorale – created a pleasant and warm environment. Even within the highlighted trumpet fanfares, woodwinds and horns were well integrated.


This cohesive sound paralleled the excellent and organic way in which Bychkov’s  elegant conducting style interpreted the overall arches of the individual symphonic poems. Even with the supposed breaks in tempo, which are totally logical in terms of Smetana’s composition, a fundamentally unifying pulse remained audible.


This was finely modified, for example, in the individual episodes of the “Vltava”, and the final crescendo of the third poem, the gloomy legend where the murderous Amazonian Sárka is unreservedly driven out.  But Bychkov never lost the overall image of these individual moments, so that one experienced the cycle both as a single movement, and as a cycle.

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27th May 2019

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Klaus Kalchschmid

When did “Vyšehrad”, the first of six symphonic poems from Bedřich Smetana’s “Ma Vlást – my homeland” get as much rehearsal as it has with Semyon Bychkov and the Munich Philharmonic at the Gasteig?  Opening with two harps, indicating that this is “an old story”, the colourful and melodious music describes the fate of the castle from its golden splendour to its destruction.  Once the Castle stood high above Prague, where today there is a large church.


The subsequent “Vltava” is well-known but enchanting, and here sounded more beautiful and exciting than ever before.  “Šarka” tells the gruesome story of a woman who lures her lover into a deadly trap, and Bychkov and the truly light-hearted Philharmonic lost no detail, nor melodic or harmonic subtlety of the instrumental score this Sunday morning.


The fact that the fourth poem “From Bohemia’s woods and fields”, with its colourful and diverse portrayal of nature-loving, should actually be the end of the cycle, can still be heard a little today, because both “Tábor” – the movement about the Czech freedom fighting Hussites – with its piercing stomping brass chords and “Blanik” have similar themes in terms of music and content, but they no longer have the high inspiration and density of the earlier four parts.

Whether it was the wonderfully bronze tone of the strings, the radiant brass or the subtle winds: it was all the more impressive that neither the tension nor the beauty of the tonal form waned before the moment of the triumphant finale.

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