The PRSO continues to abound with colour and energy
…is the conclusion that can be drawn from a meeting on Tuesday with journalists at the Czech Radio building’s legendary Studio 1, where the orchestra rehearses, records and occasionally gives concerts.
A press conference involving principal conductor Ondrej Lenárd, orchestra director Jakub Čížek, dramaturge Josef Třeštík and concertmaster Vlastimil Kobrle, along with guests Adam Plachetka (speaking via Skype) and Ivana Leidlová, director of the organisation Zámek Liteň, was attended by journalists and others keen to learn more about the colourful programmes in its three concert series.
Following the celebratory 90th season we can again look forward to a season filled with colour and energy whose principal attribute is diversity.
This is evinced by classic works from the orchestra repertoire, such as Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Beethoven’s Ninth and Verdi’s Requiem, which are combined with rarely performed pieces by famous composers, including Paul Dukas’ dance poem La Péri, Debussy’s Jeux and Vítězslav Novák’s early Piano Concerto.
As last season, a new work specially commissioned by the PRSO will also be premiered, with the orchestra set to join forces on the first ever performance of Narcissus for Cello and Orchestra by Jan Ryant Dřízal with conductor Marek Šedivý and cellist Tomáš Jamník.
On the subject of young musicians, we could also mention the French horn player Kateřina Javůrková, violinist Jan Mráček and conductor Jiří Rožeň, who said of a concert at which the works of Stravinsky, Kalabis and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass will be performed: “For me the conception of the evening is very interesting, untraditional and exciting. I think the audience have something to look forward to.”
As regards the organisation of the concert series, the central pillar of the season is the series “R – When Classical is a Passion”. It comprises 12 concerts at the Rudolfinum’s Dvořák Hall at which listeners will be in the company of leading Czech and world artists. The world-renowned cellist Steven Isserlis will perform a concerto by the French 20th century great Henri Dutilleux, the phenomenal harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will play Viktor Kalabis’s Harpsichord Concerto and the Ukrainian violist Maxim Rysan will be heard on Martinů’s Rhapsody-Concerto.
A total of five concerts in this series will be conducted by the orchestra’s leader Ondrej Lenárd, for whom the 91st season will be his seventh at the helm of the PRSO. The orchestra’s cooperation with principal guest conductor Tomáš Brauner will also continue.
Poland’s Michał Nesterowicz, who we got to know at an extraordinarily successful evening with pianist Lukáš Vondráček last year, will return to the conductor’s rostrum. The great German conductor Alexander Liebreich will helm a programme combining the music of Zemlinsky, Janáček, Richard Strauss and Ligeti.
To the orchestra’s great delight, the wonderful bass baritone Adam Plachetka has become artist in residence at the PRSO for its 91st season and will appear at three concerts in all. In September he will take part with other excellent singers in a tribute to Jarmila Novotná (a special concert held in cooperation with Zámkem Liteň), in October he will fulfil his long-held “musical’s dream” at Forum Karlín and in January he will sing Richard Strauss at the Rudolfinum. So three times Adam Plachetka, each quite different.
The “N – New Horizons” series occasionally lifts more conservative audiences “out of their seats” while at the same time bringing listeners who continue to fear classical music into concert halls. PRSO director Jakub Čížek says of it: “Next season it will again be the case that New Horizons involves special, often unique and hard to repeat projects. This time, for instance, this will entail a concert for film with the whole family. I’m looking forward to seeing at it not just parents but also children and schoolchildren; we will celebrate Janáček’s anniversary together.”
Indeed, you can bring your children to a really wonderful afternoon project at Forum Karlín where a BBC animated film of The Cunning Little Vixen will be screened, accompanied by live music from the PRSO conducted by Laurent Pillot from France.
Alongside the aforementioned musicals evening with Adam Plachetka, in the “N” series you can also savour the distinctive style of one of the most popular Czech singers, Aneta Langerová, and enjoy the magic, charm and refinement of the fleet-footed muse in the form of an operetta gala.
There will also be a continuation of the intimate series at Studio 1 in which the orchestra performs as a small ensemble and its members in the role of excellent soloists. This time that challenge will fall to French horn player Jana Švadlenková, clarinettist Lukáš Dittrich, bassoonist Milan Muzikář, violist Markéta Sádecká, double bassist Radomír Žalud, flautist Mario Mesany and, as a guest, pianist Matyáš Novák, laureate of numerous international competitions, including Czech Radio’s Concertina Praga. Jitka Novotná and Vasil Fridrich will continue to host the concerts.
Exciting, innovative, celebratory, poetic and dance-oriented – thus and in many ways different (which will depend in large part on audiences) will be the PRSO’s concerts in its 91st season.
Where did Josef Třeštík draw inspiration when putting together the dramaturgy of the 91st season?
“If I pass over the 100th and 90th anniversaries of Claude Debussy and Leoš Janáček, respectively, which we will recall in 2018, I was inspired above all by music itself and frequently by some unobtrusive internal connection between compositions. Ideas also come from conversations with the musicians we have invited to cooperate. For instance, the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani is a student of Zuzana Růžičková, for whom her husband Viktor Kalabis composed his Harpsichord Concerto in the 1970s. When we contacted Mahan, he said he had performed that piece several times abroad but never in Prague. It struck me as logical that when musicians of his standard, meaning world standard, live in our country the domestic audience should have the chance to hear him interpret a piece with which he is closely linked. What’s more, I was aware that conductor Jiří Rožeň, who will helm the concert, has a strong connection to 20th century music. In the case of the concert to be helmed by the German conductor Alexander Liebreich, I was inspired by the pre-war history of the New German Theatre, which was based in the building of today’s State Opera, not far from Czech Radio in Vinohrady. In the years 1911–27 its artistic chief was Alexander Zemlinsky, a deeply Austro-Hungarian composer and conductor with Slovak, Jewish and Bosnian ancestry. Under his leadership, the theatre was a world-renowned opera house and put on the best new works from throughout Europe. Zemlinsky himself conducted, among other things, a production of Janáček’s Jenůfa in a German translation by Max Brod. Therefore the at first glance unusual connection of Janáček and Zemlinsky in the first half of the programme.”
We are the PRSO
The PRSO will enter its new season with a new communication campaign centred on the claim “WE ARE THE PRSO”. More on this from the PRSO’s brand manager Ilona Topolová:
“It’s meant to express the unity and pride of all the musicians in fulfilling their mission, in bold steps with regard to the inclusion of contemporary music in the dramaturgy and in the bringing together of musical genres. It is divided into three visuals, each representing one concert series. In coming up with the campaign, we focused on what music means to us, what it gives us, what it evokes in us and what we would like it to evoke in listeners. The classical R series is our life, passion and vocation. By contrast, within ‘New Horizons’ we create, play and experiment. And in the intimate S series we want to be as close as possible to our audience. The entire campaign originated at Studio 1, where the PRSO is ‘at home’. The faces of the campaign are PRSO musicians.”
The sale of season tickets and individual tickets for all PRSO concerts will begin on 26 April 2017. We will reserve places for existing season-ticket holders for 14 days, until 12 May. We have launched online sales of season tickets for new season-ticket holders for the first time, while you can also create your own made to measure season ticket and take advantage of a rich range of discounts for children, students and seniors.
The PRSO will enter its 91st season with many bold plans and resolutions, flair and also determination. In this regard the words of PRSO director Jakub Čížek are telling: “We’ve planned the new season with the same visions as the 90th season. We like diversity and we are keen for the audience to discover new titles and composers through us. Therefore, as a kind of contrast to popular compositions, we have included less frequently played works by famous composers and prepared another world premiere from a Czech composer. We also take pride in our first-class interpretive quality.”