28th September 2020
Guest concerts of visiting orchestras are a difficult matter in times of Corona. Many of those from overseas orchestras do not take place; some are cancelled at short notice due to travel restrictions; some
such as the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Orchestra dell ‘Accademia Nationale di Santa Cecilia from Rome and the SWR Symphony Orchestra travelled in the second half of September but surprisingly
not to Vienna.
The Czech Philharmonic however made it to Vienna. The Orchestra travelled from the risk area of Prague (denoted by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to the risk area of Vienna (German Ministry of Foreign Affairs) so that on Friday they were both at risk in the Konzerthaus. What were the Czechs and their Chief Conductor Semyon Bychkov carrying in their luggage? Dvořák naturally -the Eighth Symphony – and Shostakovich’s Concerto for piano, trumpet and strings op. 35. The soloists in the latter work were no less than Daniil Trifonov and Selina Ott, the young trumpeter who won the 2018 ARD competition.
Shostakovich’s 1933 work is full of irony and grotesquerie, many hear in the opening a quote from Beethoven’s Appassionata and perform it as a parody of a classical concerto. Not so DaniilTrifonov. His (incredibly subtle and virtuosic) interpretation was completely serious; the musician a model of a precision machine. Lang Lang would have been more showy and clown-like – a shot at a poor version of Hella von Sinnen would have gone down well here. Selina Ott also proved herself to be obediently at the service of interpretive solidity.
Dvořák’s Eighth was pure pleasure. Bychkov showed himself to be a kind and open-hearted all-rounder, caresser of the soul and creator of dreams. The Czech Philharmonic blossomed under his expert leadership as did the hearts of the audience.