“Boundless talent” Jan Mráček set for opening concert of PRSO’s 91st season
The main stars of the evening will be the same as at the opening of the jubilee 90th season – Ondrej Lenárd and Jan MráčekFoto: Pavel Horník
The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra will launch its new season at the Rudolfinum’s Dvořák Hall on 2 October. The main stars of the evening will be the same as at the opening of the jubilee 90th season – Ondrej Lenárd and Jan Mráček.
Why this déjà vu? The principal conductor himself explains: “I regard Jan Mráček as a boundless talent, I have no hesitation in saying a prodigious figure in the Czech interpretive art. I have enormous respect for his modesty and humility towards his art and his admirable mastery, virtuosity and huge musical gift. I invited him without hesitation. After all, we’ve got to support such a young hotshot. I’m also pleased that he obligingly agreed to perform a very important 20th century title, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Concerto for Violin in D major.”
What kind of opus can we expect? In any case, it is a concerto that is performed relatively rarely – do audiences find it demanding?
“I think that it’s not hard to understand Korngold’s music. In every tone the fate of a person who has lived through many painful situations and been severely tested can be heard. At the same time, I won’t pretend our inclusion of the Korngold hasn’t been a tough nut to crack in terms of dramaturgy. What piece to present it alongside in one programme? What to start the concert with? The idea of Bohuslav Martinů’s uncommonly powerful piece Memorial to Lidice came to me spontaneously. In this way the tragedy of the razed village and the composer Korngold’s complicated fate are brought together. Though it is a sad beginning, I don’t we should forget the cruel war era,” says the PRSO’s principal conductor Ondrej Lenárd of his deliberations with regard to the opening concert’s dramaturgy.
Martinů began sketching out the piece as early as August 1942, completing it the following summerFoto: autor neznámý, Centrum Bohuslava Martinů v Poličce
It is clear that Bohuslav Martinů’s symphonic commemoration Memorial to Lidice was one way in which the composer came to terms with the terrible revenge that followed the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. He began sketching out the piece as early as August 1942, completing it the following summer.
Alongside tragedy we can also hear national references, for instance in the use of a quotation from the St. Wenceslas Chorale, which Martinů had previously used several times in his work. Its final part also makes reference to the rising motif in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
After the interval the mournful nostalgia will disappear and we will be carried away by completely different tones. We will enter the world of visions, dreams and passions with Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony, a piece that bears all the essentials of a highly romantic opus – inspiration in unhappy love, deviation from regular formal arrangement and somewhat bizarre content.
The muse of the then 27-year-old Berlioz was the beautiful and talented actress Harriet Smithson. The enchantment she stirred in the young composer gave rise to a ground-breaking piece, an admirably mature work with marked usage of a so-called idée fixe, meaning a musical motif that characterised a specific figure or idea and always ran through the entire piece.
The symphony was performed for the first time on 5 December 1830. “I have enjoyed crazy success,” Berlioz wrote in a letter to a friend. The piece did indeed stir passions and emotions. Alongside the enthusiastic reception, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, for instance, said he would never in his life forget the evening he heard the piece, so deep was his disgust.
We are sure you will depart the Rudolfinum with in an utterly satisfied state of mind. The concert – just like a live broadcast on Czech Radio’s Vltava station – begins at 19:30.