News & Reviews: Review

January 2020


17th January 2020

Aleš Bluma

Then Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic showed us a completely different Franz Schubert. Above all, Bychkov used strong transitions, dynamics that stretched from the softest pianissimo (fantastic first violins – how can ten violinists play “ppp” so tenderly that it is barely audible, this is truly masterful!) to the strongest fortissimo; choosing faster tempi, he took the drama away from the cello solo in the Allegro Moderato. Suddenly, the orchestral colours were really fresh. The Orchestra was totally at one with the interpretation. Especially in the second movement, where the themes were passed with precision and the phrasing was brilliant. Both oboist Jana Brožková and clarinettist Jan Mach played their solos very well. It was a completely different Schubert from the one we know. Coarse, unconventional and without melancholy, it raises a wave of exciting emotions…

Contrasting with the Unfinished Symphony, Semyon Bychkov opted for a far more classic interpretation in Rendering. The rhythm was precise (mainly in Berio’s transitions), and the sound was multi-dimensional. Besides the above-mentioned soloists Jana Brožková and Jan Mach, I would like to mention bassoonist Ondřej Roskovec, cellist Josef Špaček and the filigree violin of Olga Šroubková…

Semyon Bychkov knows his Beethoven perfectly. He conducted the symphony (No. 7) by heart and his gestures led the orchestra accurately, indeed he lived Beethoven’s music. And the entire Orchestra lived Beethoven’s music with him. The Orchestra’s joy was almost unbelievable. In the second movement’s Allegro, the clarinets and bassoons together with the strings gave first-rate performances on a par with the finest orchestras in the world. The second movement sounded almost unearthly. As did the winds in the third movement, Presto. It is hard to think of any greater praise. It was a joyous, triumphant and excellent Beethoven. The Czech Philharmonic’s performance was almost unreal. It is becoming increasingly evident that the combination of Bělohlávek’s work over the years and Semyon Bychkov’s current leadership are bearing fruit. The Czech Philharmonic has its place amongst the world’s top orchestras once again.  And, if the musicians continue to play they did in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, they absolutely deserve their place there.