Music-lovers in Brno like to remember the visit Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made to the city at the turn of 1767-68. The theme of the third subscription concert of the Brno Philharmonic from the cycle The Philharmonic at Home I was however the composer’s visit to Prague. And this was not without reason. Prague has an indisputable place in the professional career of the most significant representative of Viennese classicism. To go with the chosen theme the programme creators chose important milestones in the composer’s output that were linked to Prague and its inhabitants. The Brno Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Alexander Liebreich and the pianist was Saleem Ashkar.
Brno is a city full of contrasts. A short walk through its centre reveals curious contrasts: the Rozkvět passage next to the House of the Lords of Lipá or the Omega department store inserted into the historic centre are clear examples. The Brno Philharmonic also bases its musical production on the contrast of old with new. More than once I have praised the fresh programmes of the concerts, which go for contrasting musical works and present combinations of compositions which are rarely heard alongside each other. In the case of the concert entitled Romantic Fairy Tales of 24 January however the programme was down to earth. There were no sudden dissonances or odd instrumental combinations and the musical language did not depart from the moderately conventional. However we do not have only the contrasts of old and new, known and unknown, but unfortunately also between quality and its absence and not last between interesting and dull.
If you went to the Brno Philharmonic’s New Year Concert expecting a serious, rigorous celebration, with measured and distinguished entertainment, most probably you left extremely disappointed. In your frustration you may have complained and muttered: what was this conducting dance creation, why did they clap to the rhythm of the Radetzky March and primarily – why were we made to sing? And the programme! Last year at least there was Smetana, but this year? Just waltzes and polkas, operettas and whipped cream! If you are not a bitter grouch, it is likely that along with the Brno Philharmonic you danced into 2018 with ease and sprightliness.
The programme of the third Sunday of Advent from the orchestra of the Ensemble Opera Diversa with the help of their sister body – the choir Ensemble Versus – was marked by modern contemporary creations. In the Convent of the Merciful Brethren they performed the works O antifony for baritone and strings and the Magnificat and choir and strings from the ensemble’s court composer Ondřej Kyas and the Sonata da chiesa by the composer Jaroslav Štastný-Pokorný, written under his artistic pseudonym of Peter Graham. The soloist for the evening was the baritone Roman Hoza, while the performance was conducted by Gabriela Tardonová. The concert was broadcast live by Czech Radio Vltava and other stations in the Euroradio network. In this way the music was heard by listeners in Spain, Saarland, Estonia, Sweden, Portugal, Hessen, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Slovenia and it was broadcast by the BBC.
Yesterday the biggest hall of the Brno Exhibition Centre – Pavilion P – was filled with an audience of a thousand. The premiere of the ballet West Side Story was completely sold out. The performance was given by the National Theatre Brno, the author of the original concept and also the original choreography is Jerome Robbins, the libretto is by Arthur Laurents, the music from Leonard Bernstein and the song lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The Brno performance of this world-famous musical was directed by Mário Radačovský, who also created the choreography for this new production. The sets were designed by Marek Hollý and the costumes by Alexandra Grusková. The lighting design was by Tomáš Morávek while the projection was directed by Jan Fuksa and Martin Svobodník.
The last concert of the 49th Moravian Autumn International Music Festival took place on Saturday 28 October. Immediately before its fiftieth anniversary the festival chose as an overarching theme ®evolution and the inevitability of progress. For a month signs and posters in Brno have called out to passers-by and attracted them to this ambitious spectacle. After a quick look at the programme, it was clear that the pivotal musical works this year will be primarily innovative achievements of the first half of the 20th century seasoned with the musical delicacy that is early music.