News & Reviews: Review

September 2019


14th September 2019

Věra Drápelová

After the unconvincing opening week of this year’s Dvořák Prague International Music Festival, audiences got the bitter taste out of their mouths with concerts from the Essen Philharmonie and Czech Philharmonic who offered the level of music playing one usually expects from this festival…

 After that, the Czech Philharmonic with its Chief Conductor Semyon Bychkov played their first festival concert. The programme was based on the recently finished recordings of pieces by Tchaikovsky, who actually was a friend of Dvořák’s. The Piano Concerto No. 1 belongs to the list of all-time most notorious classical pieces. Its striking opening even surpasses the borders of classical music. Soloist Kirill Gerstein promotes the original “modest” version of the First Piano Concerto, although the piece was performed here in its full glory – even though not in the way it often is. Bychkov definitely did not give the “fire” command, the orchestra did not launch a cannonade and the soloist did not begin to show off rumbling chords and physical endurance. Instead of a military parade, music was being created, obviously perfect but without opulence, with honesty and musicians listening to each other…

 The Czech Philharmonic and Bychkov gave one of their best joint performances yet [in the Manfred Symphony]. It was full of acoustic beauty, smoothness and spark when all of the instrumental groups literally competed with each other in their qualities, while still forming a perfectly interconnected whole. At the same time, every phrase was intense and deep. Romantism with its pathos can sometimes be viewed as shallow and showy but in this case, it was what it is meant to be – a human emotion.