Semyon Bychkov conducts Dvořák, Smetana, and Martinů
Concert for the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of Czechoslovakia
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"It’s not a question of quality," says Semyon Bychkov about the distinctive sound of his ensemble, "it’s a question of identity.... The Czech Phil had their own tradition from an earlier time: how they play their instruments, what the instruments should sound like. You can hear it in the string sound, in the wind sound." When Bychkov left his post as Chief Conductor for the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, the great Soviet-born conductor intended only to take guest conductorships—but in 2018, a personal invitation from the musicians of the Czech Philharmonic made him reconsider.
In this concert commemorating 100 years since the establishment of Czechoslovakia (1918-1992), the orchestra presents a slate of works that examine the question of "national" style. Smetana'a overture for The Bartered Bride is seen as an important contribution toward a specifically Czech operatic idiom, and Martinů's frenetic Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani evokes both Czech folklore and the 18th-century Italian concerto grosso. Finally, inspired by Native American and African-American melodies, Dvořák's extraordinary "New World" Symphony No. 9 further complicates the notion of national music, creating a symphonic bridge between the two continents.