28th January 2019
Bychkov proved how considerable his conducting skills were in the vivid, poetic paintings with which the cosmopolitan Smetana depicted his love of home. He led the precise yet musically urgent performance effortlessly from the very beginning. “Vyšehrad” starts with two harps summoning up the old castle in the midst of the Vltava River where its dramatic fate is recreated until it finally sinks. Equally concentrated, Bychkov led the orchestra through the sound world of “Vltava”, the name the Czechs give to the Moldova. It was beautifully melodic and transparent whether in the solos from the flutes and horns, or in the tutti sections. The orchestra responded splendidly to every tiny gesture that Bychkov employed to enhance the dynamics of the wedding dance, to conjure up the foggy mists, or to tame the speed of the rapids.
26th January 2019
When the NDR Elbphilharmonie is playing with a top-notch conductor like Semyon Bychkov, you can expect a good concert. But there is a difference between good and extraordinary, the latter being largely the result of small yet wise decisions as heard in Friday’s concert in Lübeck… The hand of Russia-born Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in Prague since last year, was also at work here because he knows how to handle the famous Czech composer, Bedrich Smetana. And, because of this, it was wise to also include the three symphonic poems from his cycle “Má Vlast” alongside the Piano Concerto. While “Vyšehrad” and “Šárka” are not as unknown as Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto, they are not as well-known as “Vltava” which was also a highlight of this well-attended evening. It was a good decision to have heard this concert.
26th January 2019
Elbphilharmonie: “Vltava” as a thrilling drama conducted by Semyon Bychkov
On Thursday, Semyon Bychkov was in the Elbphilharmonie to conduct the Resident Orchestra in the first three movements filled with catchy music. With broad orchestral brushstrokes, he literally painted the pictures of the legendary Vyšehrad Castle in the first part, and navigated the sublimely elegiac nature of this movement with great calm. In “Vltava”, the rippling of the second flute began in Andrea Mairhofer’s sovereign breath, before the stream sped faster and more inexorably into folkloristic scenes, ultimately vanishing triumphantly from the ears and the spiritual eyes of the listener. Bychkov and the Orchestra transformed the third part into a gripping drama without actors or words – the defiance, the rage and the vengeance of the betrayed and wounded Šárka.
10th January 2019
Seeing the composer’s visible joy when he joined the conductor on the podium, I would dare to suggest that Semyon Bychkov’s meticulously prepared performance [of Glanert’s Weites Land] with the Czech Philharmonic is a further important success for the work.
This was my first opportunity to hear the Czech Philharmonic with its new Chief Conductor. Semyon Bychkov’s conducting [of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1] was economical, creating elegant arcs with his arms to draw melodies from groups of instrumentalists and soloists as a magician would pull rabbits from a hat. Regardless of the dynamics, his gestures remained under-stated and fluid. Excessive drama is just not his way.