The new season of the Brno Philharmonic will host some great works and celebrations of important anniversaries

17 May 2024, 10:00
 The new season of the Brno Philharmonic will host some great works and celebrations of important anniversaries

The upcoming 69th season of the Brno Philharmonic is centred around three numbers - 90, 200 and 150. The entire season will see the celebration of numerous anniversaries, the performance of several masterpieces and a wealth of world-class soloists such as soprano Chen Reiss, tenor Christoph Prégardien, pianist Alexandre Tharaud, cellist Steven Isserlis, percussionist Adélaïde Ferrière and violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi.

"Ninety is linked to the most important project of the season, Mahler's Song of Lamentation. We will perform it in its original three movements exactly ninety years to the day after its world première. That took place in Brno, conducted by Mahler's nephew and performed by the radio orchestra from which our Philharmonic later emerged. Itis rare to hear this balladic story in its original form because the composer revised the work and did away with the extensive first movement," explained Marie Kučerová, Director of the Brno Philharmonic. Chen Reiss, one of the world's most acclaimed sopranos, will sing the solo part. "This season we have invited several star soloists from around the world, with Chen Reiss probably the greatest of all," emphasised Kučerová. She added that it is also the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of Alfred Schnittke, one of the ensemble's leading members, as he is regularly performed in every season.

The work of Gustav Mahler is linked to another significant dramaturgical thread running through the season, that being the ongoing celebration of the Year of Czech Music and the question of what goes to shape Czech musical culture. Is is Mahler? Korngold? Reich? All born in the Czech Republic, but associated with the countries where they later lived. Audiences will hear all three in the upcoming season. "The bicentenary belongs, of course, to Bedřich Smetana, whom we will be honouring in the opening concert together with the composer celebrating the same anniversary: Anton Bruckner," explained chief conductor Dennis Russell Davies, one of the world's leading experts on Bruckner's work. Czech composers will also be commemorated, for example, in a special Dvořák concert featuring cellist Laura van den Heijden. "I’m looking forward to all the great works we will be presenting, and there's no shortage of them this year. We’ll be performing Handel's Messiah, for example, in Mozart's beautiful arrangement, which sets the standard for the sophisticated and sensitive interpretation of this piece, with tenor Christopher Prégardien, who enchanted the Brno audience with Schubert's songs this January. We will also be performing Joseph Haydn's magnificent Creation and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4," said Davies.

One of the most internationally renowned pianists of his generation, Alexandre Tharaud, is to return to Brno. "This will be to marked the 150th anniversary of Maurice Ravel's birth. We’re in for a spectacular, completely Ravel-esque evening with both of his piano concertos and a suite from the ballet Daphnis and Chloé and the choreographic poem La valse. Tharaud has had Ravel's piano concertos in his repertoire since he was a teenager, but he only recorded them last year, at the age of fifty-five. This is a fantastic and highly acclaimed album, and I’m really looking forward to hearing it performed live in Brno," said Vítězslav Mikeš, dramaturg of the Brno Philharmonic. He added that the big concert with the orchestra will be preceded by a recital by Tharaud, playing Bach and Dukas as well as Ravel.

Brno audiences can look forward to a wealth of international star soloists: soprano Chen Reiss as already mentioned, tenor Christophe Prégardien and pianist Alexandre Tharaud, in addition to cellist Steven Isserlis, percussionist Adélaïde Ferrière and violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi. “I'm really looking forward to his pre-Christmas concert. He is a true legend in the field of informed interpretation, having founded and led the world-famous ensemble Europa Galante," Kučerová emphasised.

In addition to such well-established stars, the season will also feature young talents such as Trio Bohémo, Petr Nekoranec and Lada Bočková. "We’ve now starting holding a Concert with Laureates, presenting the winners of major international competitions. We're delighted that one of these is our double bassist Ondřej Sejkora," said Mikeš.

The upcoming season will continue to present rediscovered Czech composers, this time Václav Hugo Voříšek, Jan Dismas Zelenka and, as is now a tradition, Antonín Rejcha. Last year's new addition, the educational project In the Orchestra, where the audience sits among the players during the concert, is also continuing. "We’ve expanded our range of children's concerts in response to the huge demand. The Saturday Family subscription, which has been completely sold out for years, will now be performed twice, in the afternoon as well as in the morning. We’re also adding a new time to the Chamber Family Afternoons subscription. We’re now playing at two times, at two and four in the afternoon," said Kristýna Drášilová, head of education at the Brno Philharmonic.

The orchestra will be performing at prestigious international venues in Grafenegg, Linz and Vienna in Austria, Katowice in Poland, and also on an autumn tour in South Korea. "We’re significantly strengthening our position as a major player on the international concert scene, creating programmes that are rightly ranked alongside the most exciting and meaningful in the whole of Europe," Davies emphasised.

The new season goes on sale from 8 a.m. on Monday 27 May. It is intended for anyone wishing to renew their subscription, which they can do online from home or come along in person to the Brno Philharmonic ticket office. Tickets to all special concerts and for the Špilberk Festival will also go on sale that day. The sale of all non-renewed subscription seats as well as Season Passes begins on Monday 17 June.

Philharmonie Brno/ photo from the ensemble’s archive



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