Czech Philharmonic Does Full Justice to Czech Music

24/08/2014

Edinburgh International Festival Logo (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 Edinburgh International Festival 2014 (18) – Janáček, Korngold, Martinů:  Nicola Benedetti (violin), Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Jiří Bělohlávek (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 22.8.2014 (SRT)

Janáček: Prelude: From the House of the Dead
Korngold: Violin Concerto
Martinů: Symphony No. 4

 

For their two-night EIF residency, the Czech Philharmonic are playing only works by Czech composers – and tonight that even extended to their Smetana encore. As I cast my eye down the list of very Czech names in the orchestra list, I thought how good it is that, in our modern globalised world, this is an orchestra that is still so utterly grounded in its native soil.  They do other music extremely well too, of course, but they’re as good as it gets when it comes to their fellow Czechs.

Their way with Janáček, for example, understands the very essence of this composer’s strange but successful marriage of the brittle and the lyrical, the jagged angles of the House of the Dead overture, complete with rattling chains, contrasting with the soaring melodic lines of the two solo violins.  Likewise, their playing of the Korngold concerto had just the right element of soft focus that allows the melodies to breathe in their context, with an overall emphasis on beauty of sound which, in this work, is no bad thing.  Nicola Benedetti responded in kind with playing of soaring lyricism in the first two movements, met by jagged, staccato virtuosity for the gallop of the finale.

Martinů can be a difficult composer to make sense of, though, and it was wise to bring his Fourth Symphony to Edinburgh, the most lyrical and approachable of his set.  It’s clearly a work that this orchestra have in their bloodstream, from the glimmering, colourful opening to the gigantic sense of movement in the Scherzo.  Hearing them play this work, it was the soulful quality of the strings that stood out most, particularly the violins who really came into their own in the long lines of the slow movement.  Likewise, Bělohlávek’s choice to arrange the basses at the back and centre of the orchestra seemed to unleash their sound with an effect that was liberating and enervating.  The whole sound came together in a rich, even refulgent ending that put the crown on the symphony.

The Edinburgh International Festival runs until Sunday 31st August in venues across the city.  For full details click here.

 

Simon Thompson

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 29 April – 11 May 2019 in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall 2019-2020 Season Highlights __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival at the Snape Maltings in June __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s 2019 30th Anniversary Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires in 2019 – Largely Traditional __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR MAXIM EMELYANYCHEV IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ivan Putrov’s Against the Stream Ballet Gala Night on 7 April __________________________________
  • NEW! London To Hear Long-Overdue Revival of Parry’s Oratorio Judith in April __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! Ik zeg: NU: I say now, now … an interview with Richard Causton __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month