Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Orchestra

 Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Ceská filharmonie in Czech language) is based in Prague and is probably the most famous and the most internationally respected Czech orchestra.

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was formerly the orchestra of the Prague National Opera. It played its first concert under its current name on January 4, 1896 when Antonín Dvorák conducted his own compositions, but it did not become fully independent from the opera until 1901. In 1908, Gustav Mahler led the orchestra in the world premiere of his Symphony No. 7. The orchestra first became internationally known under the baton of Václav Talich, who was principal conductor from 1919 to 1931, and again from 1933 to 1941. Subsequent conductors included Rafael Kubelík (1942-1948),

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The Tchaikovsky Project Vol. 2

The Tchaikovsky Project Vol. 2


Tchaikovsky:

Manfred Symphony, Op. 58


“I’ve loved Tchaikovsky’s music ever since I can remember. Like all first loves this one never died.” Semyon Bychkov

Semyon Bychkov conducts the Czech Philharmonic in Tchaikovsky’s epic Manfred Symphony for Volume 2 of his Tchaikovsky Project.

Following 2016’s critically acclaimed Tchaikovsky Project Vol.1 (Pathétique and Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture), Volume 2 is released to coincide with the performance of Manfred Symphony at the BBC Proms on Thursday 31 August 2017.

The Tchaikovsky Project is a multi-year project shedding new light on the great master’s major orchestral works. Each recording benefits from extensive preparation time, the best possible recording conditions and Bychkov’s in-depth research on these works.

“This symphony is an opera without words, and one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest operas at that.” Semyon Bychkov

“Bychkov kicked off his Tchaikovsky Project with the composer's most popular Symphony, but his advocacy for a work which is almost as much of an outsider as its Byronic subject is if anything even more impressive - he neither shortchanges nor oversells the piece's melodramatic qualities, and the balance between its light and dark elements is beautifully judged.” Presto Editor's Choice, August 2017

“[Manfred] has rarely been played with such conviction on disc. The Czech orchestra are clearly inspired by Bychkov’s dramatic, almost Wagnerian conception of the piece. The Russian conductor clearly revels in the gloomy, doom-laden quality of the music.” Sunday Times, 3rd September 2017

“The epic expansiveness of the Manfred Symphony suits Bychkov’s operatic tendencies perfectly. He clearly relishes the music’s moments of grandeur, over-the-top rhetoric and dramatic coups, and the Czech orchestra responds with playing of tremendous character” The Guardian, 17th August 2017 ****

“the combination of a seasoned operatic conductor with a headstrong, idiosyncratic orchestra prov[es] a lip-smacking combination....The Czech Philharmonic may not boast the lustrous sheen of some other central European orchestras, but instead the group plays with a very satisfying “crackle”.” The Times, 25th August 2017 ****

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Ostrčil: Jack’s Kingdom

Ostrčil: Jack’s Kingdom


Ostrčil:

Jack’s Kingdom

Ivo Žídek, Jaroslava Vymazalová & Přemysl Kočí

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Václav Neumann

Krizova cesta (Calvary or The Way of the Cross): Variations for large orchestra, Op. 24

Prague Symphony Orchestra, Václav Jiráček


A unique recording of the undeservedly overlooked opera on CD for the very first time.

Recorded in Prague in the Czech Radio, January 1954 (Jack's Kingdom), and at the Rudolfinum, November 19, 20 and 24, 1957 (Calvary).

The complete recording of Jack’s Kingdom, the final opera by Otakar Ostrčil (1879-1935), a remarkable fairy-tale work with an antiwar message, is now being released on CD for the first time.

It is based on L. N. Tolstoy’s short story about a land ruled by the good-natured Ivan (transformed in the opera into Honza, or Jack) who knows not what spite is. In his kingdom, soldiers do not wage wars, yet dance and love, all diseases are cured and people are happy. Honza brings to all the people the miraculous star of compassion, love and peace, possessing so great a power that it even cures the incurable Princess and prevails over the Devil himself. When the opera was premiered in Brno (1934) and subsequently presented in Prague, it gave rise to a conflict between Ostrčil and a part of Czech society.

The present CD features the one and only studio recording of the opera, made in 1954 by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, with Ivo Žídek, Jaroslava Vymazalová and Přemysl Kočí singing the lead roles. The CD also contains a unique recording of Ostrčil’s Calvary, Op. 24, made in 1957 by the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Václav Neumann.

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Emil Gilels plays Tchaikovsky

Emil Gilels plays Tchaikovsky


Tchaikovsky:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23

Prague Spring Festival 1954

Czech Philharmonic, Karl Ancerl

Theme & Variations (No. 6 from Morceaux (6), Op. 19)

Moscow June 1950

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44

Radio Moscow, live recording December 23 1959

USSR State Symphony, Kirill Kondrashin


Emil Gilels (piano)

Emil Gilels (1916-85), unlike his friend and compatriot Sviatoslav Richter, enjoyed playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 44 just as much as the celebrated Concerto No. 1, Op. 23. Their playing style was very different. Both equally virtuoso, Richter’s flashes of emotion and virtuosity contrast with Gilels’ natural restraint and impressive legato. The two scores here, which met with surprisingly contrasting acclaim, appear only rarely together.

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Dvorak: Stabat Mater, Op. 58

Dvorak: Stabat Mater, Op. 58


Eri Nakamura (soprano), Elisabeth Kulman (contralto), Michael Spyres (tenor), Jongmin Park (bass)

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic Choir, Jiří Bělohlávek

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Maestro Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic present an authentic interpretation of Dvořák’s Stabat Mater; a great Czech work performed by Czech musicians with an innate understanding of the music of their homeland.

Dvořák’s Stabat Mater is performed here by Jiří Bělohlávek, the Czech Philharmonic and leading soloists Eri Nakamura, Elisabeth Kulman, Michael Spyres and Jongmin Park.

“[Bělohlávek’s] relaxed though steadfast approach is immediately apparent…the Prague Philharmonic Choir’s contributions are disciplined and impassioned…[the solo quartet] are uniformly superb…Bělohlávek perfectly judges the delicate balance between singers and orchestra” Gramophone Magazine, June 2017

“This is a wonderfully idiomatic account which really bears out a remark Bělohlávek once made about the ‘singing art of playing [Dvořák]’...he captures the work’s strange synthesis of baroque influences and Verdian grandeur without overegging the pudding in either direction...All in all, this is surely set to become both an award-winner and a benchmark choice for this work.” Presto Classical, 12th May 2017

“The Czech orchestra and chorus have this music in their blood...Belohlavek’s choice of an international solo quartet is unusual...but [they] blend as a fine team...Spyres is the standout with his radiant singing of the “Brahmsian” Fac me vere tecum flere. An outstanding follow-up to Belohlavek’s outstanding symphonies and concertos set with the Czech Phil.” Sunday Times, 18th June 2017

“Bělohlávek’s performance is masterful in its pacing...There’s a spacious, burnished quality to the sound, the orchestra’s dark-timbred strings and emollient, airborne flutes; the choir all warmth and substance, even if one could occasionally wish it a touch more incisive. The four soloists fit their differing roles well.” The Guardian, 15th June 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

12th May 2017

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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3

Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3


Rachmaninov:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18

Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30


A highlight of Khatia’s recording career where she reunites with Paavo Järvi for her first orchestral recording in 4 years. Rachmaninoff’s epic, dramatic Piano Concertos 2 & 3 are rarely combined on 1 CD. Two blockbuster concertos of the late-romantic repertoire – especially the 2nd concerto as it has featured in many famous movies such as Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955) or Clint Eastwoods’ film Hereafter (2010). The 3rd concerto was prominently featured in Shine (1996) with David Helfgott. This album was recorded with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, at Rudolfinum, Dvorak Hall, Prague. Khatia was invited to perform the track ‘Kaleidoscope’ on Coldplay’s latest release ‘A Head Full of Dreams’. In 2016, she won the German ‘Echo Klassik’ award for her last album ‘Kaleidoscope’ and also received the Q d’Or award as ‘Musician of the Year 2016’ by French TV station TF1 .

“Buniatishvili’s sensitivity, lyricism and jubilance – not to mention flawless technique – suits Rachmaninov’s concertos…[his] concertante writing features complex interplay between soloist and ensemble – something that Buniatishvili and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra achieve to a high level under Paavo Järvi” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ***

“Right from the concerto’s opening moments, there’s tremendous power to Buniatishvili’s playing, and her massive technique overcomes every hurdle with ease” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

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The Tchaikovsky Project Vol. 1

The Tchaikovsky Project Vol. 1


Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 'Pathétique'

Romeo & Juliet - Fantasy Overture


“What is this music that we love so deeply if not our beloved friend? I’ve loved Tchaikovsky’s music ever since I can remember. Like all first loves this one never died” [Semyon Bychkov]

Cementing their new relationship with Decca Classics, the Czech Philharmonic embark on a cycle of Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies under the baton of Semyon Bychkov.

This first release showcases Tchaikovsky’s greatest Symphony, the Pathétique. Tchaikovsky himself felt that his Sixth Symphony, a confident and dramatic work, was “the best thing I have composed”. This outstanding recording is paired with Tchaikovsky’s magical Fantasy Overture, Romeo & Juliet.

Volume 1 marks the start of Decca’s first Tchaikovsky cycle for nearly 40 years (and the first in high-definiton 96k/24bit sound). Future recordings – covering all Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies, Piano Concertos, and other orchestral works – will follow as Maestro Bychkov delves deeper into the composer’s life and music, supported by innovative concert programming in major cities across the world.

The first of three Tchaikovsky Project concerts takes place in London in October 2016. In January/February 2017, Bychkov takes the project to New York.

Bychkov will continue to champion Tchaikovsky’s music over the next few years, with further Tchaikovsky residencies planned in London, New York and Prague, plus Tchaikovsky Project concerts in Vienna and Paris.

“these are musically intense and illuminating readings superbly played and clearly and openly recorded...There is no doubt in my mind however that this beginning to Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project series whets the appetite for further recordings.” classicalsource.com, October 2016

“Bychkov’s Russian roots make him mindful of Tchaikovsky’s classicism, the emotion always ‘contained’ until it can be contained no more. The explosive development section is a controlled panic attack, classical in form, neurotic in nature…a very fine performance…and supplemented by a Romeo and Juliet of similar qualities – keen and articulate in strife, rich in romance. And it feels personal in a way that the warm, homespun playing of the Czech Philharmonic only accentuates” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

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Dvorak: Slavonic Dances

Dvorak: Slavonic Dances


Dvorak:

Slavonic Dances Nos. 1-8, Op. 46 Nos. 1-8

Slavonic Dances Nos. 9-16, Op. 72 Nos. 1-8


“[Belohlavek’s] return to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as music director has brought him back to his emotional and musical heartland. In works by Dvořák and Smetana, unbounded lyricism and Czech melancholy emerged with the authenticity that only this orchestra can bring.” The Guardian

Maestro Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra return to Decca with the unforgettable Slavonic Dances from one of the most melodious, harmonious and evocative late 19th Century composers - Dvorak.

Decca’s acclaimed 2014 Complete Dvorak Concertos and Symphonies release was named as one of the Top Recordings of 2014 by the New York Times: “…the set as a whole stands as eloquent testimony to this eminent orchestra’s triumphant return to international prominence...” James R. Oestreich, New York Times.

Performed and recorded by musicians who have an innate understanding and deep-rooted love for this music of their homeland, this is a first-rate recording, bringing great passion and lyricism to Dvorak’s spellbinding Slavonic Dances.

There is no more authentic team today to play these works: the leading Czech orchestra with the leading Czech conductor, recording in the fine acoustic of the famous Rudolfinum in Prague.

In two sets, the Op.46 Slavonic Dances were such a success on release (in the late 1800’s) that Dvorak’s publisher immediately commissioned a further set (to become the Op.72) – which inspired an equally enthusiastic reception

Lively and colourful, both sets feature a variety of traditional forms of dance; Dvorak expertly working with the leaping gallop, polka odzemek and skocna, contrasted alongside luscious mazurkas and sousedsky.

“Bělohlávek is especially effective in the Brahmsian contours of the second and eighth of the Op 72 dances...As to Op 46, Bělohlávek offers weighty, purposeful accounts of the faster dances and brings a discernible pastoral element to the slower ones.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“The lilting affection for this glorious music is unsurprising from these Czech artists — it’s in their blood.” Sunday Times, 23rd October 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2016

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Iván Fischer conducts Borodin & Tchaikovsky

Iván Fischer conducts Borodin & Tchaikovsky


Borodin:

Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances

Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno

Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 'Pathétique'


When Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky stepped onto the stage in Saint Petersburg on 28 October 1893 to introduce his Sixth Symphony to the public, he was received with a roar of applause. Three quarters of an hour later the astonished audience was dumbfounded. How could a symphony begin so softly and end even more so? And what about the second movement with its undanceable waltz, and the third with its unstoppable march? Nine days after the premiere, Tchaikovsky died in a city ravaged by cholera.

The truly Russian mood that we associate with Tchaikovsky is also felt in the music of Borodin. His opera ‘Prince Igor’ remained incomplete when he died, but the Overture, the Chorus and Dance of the Polovtsian girls, the Polovtsian March and the on this recording added well-known Polovtsian Dances, gained a place of its own in orchestral repertoire.

“Fischer once again doesn’t disappoint; indeed, he’s brought to light elements of this work, in particular textural detaileven during the loud brass-led sections, the strings can still be heard over the top with a clarity that seems barely believable.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 23rd September 2016

“The sheer natural musicality of Fischer’s Budapest players is, as always, refreshing...the March is poised and brilliant, and if the finale could be even darker, it is eloquently played.” Sunday Times, 2nd October 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd September 2016

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Gounod: Roméo et Juliette

Gounod: Roméo et Juliette


Roberto Alagna (Roméo), Angela Gheorghiu (Juliette). Mercutio played by Pavel Novák / sung by Vratislav Krˇíž, Capulet played by Jan Šváb / sung by Aleš Hendrych, Frère Laurent played by Daniel Lipnik / sung by František Zahradnícˇek & Paris played by Marcel Acquarone / sung by Zdeneˇk Harvánek

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Chorus played by members of the Czech National Opera / sung by Kühn’s Mixed Choir, Prague, Anton Guadagno (conductor) & Barbara Willis Sweete (director)

Shakespeare’s lovers never looked and sounded as good as in this romantic film adaptation of Charles Gounod’s beloved opera Roméo et Juliette, starring one of classical music’s most popular and successful couples, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. A spectacular medieval castle and its surrounding countryside provide the breathtaking setting for this timeless tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers.

Conductor Anton Guadagno leads the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra through the opera’s beautiful arias and duets in this fresh interpretation of Gounod’s masterwork.

Sound Formats: PCM Stereo, dts-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, ES, JP, KOR

Running Time: 73 mins

Picture Format: 16:9

Region free

Resolution: 1080i High Definition (Upscale)

Blu-ray Disc 25 GB (Single Layer)

FSK: 12

“Romeo was Roberto Alagna’s finest role in the first half of his career, and the audio-visual documentation of his interpretation makes it entirely clear why he succeeded in winning over both audiences and critics.” Opera, November 2016

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Arthaus Musik - 109262

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Gounod: Roméo et Juliette

Gounod: Roméo et Juliette


Roberto Alagna (Roméo), Angela Gheorghiu (Juliette). Mercutio played by Pavel Novák / sung by Vratislav Krˇíž, Capulet played by Jan Šváb / sung by Aleš Hendrych, Frère Laurent played by Daniel Lipnik / sung by František Zahradnícˇek & Paris played by Marcel Acquarone / sung by Zdeneˇk Harvánek

Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Chorus played by members of the Czech National Opera / sung by Kühn’s Mixed Choir, Prague, Anton Guadagno (conductor) & Barbara Willis Sweete (director)

Shakespeare’s lovers never looked and sounded as good as in this romantic film adaptation of Charles Gounod’s beloved opera Roméo et Juliette, starring one of classical music’s most popular and successful couples, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. A spectacular medieval castle and its surrounding countryside provide the breathtaking setting for this timeless tale of warring families and star-crossed lovers.

Conductor Anton Guadagno leads the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra through the opera’s beautiful arias and duets in this fresh interpretation of Gounod’s masterwork.

Sound Formats: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1

Picture Format: 16:9

Subtitles: GB, DE, FR, ES, JP, KOR

Region Code: 0

Running Time: 73 mins

DVD 9 / NTSC

FSK: 12

“Romeo was Roberto Alagna’s finest role in the first half of his career, and the audio-visual documentation of his interpretation makes it entirely clear why he succeeded in winning over both audiences and critics.” Opera, November 2016

DVD Video

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Format: NTSC

Arthaus Musik - 109261

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