Monday, October 31, 2011


October 30

At the age of 73, still blowin' strong.

Charles Lloyd walked onstage last night with his hands folded as if in prayer, an appropriate opening note for a concert that seamlessly blended deep spiritual undercurrents with fresh modern jazz.

Lloyd has been a force in American music for more than 40 years, noted for his facile, seductive horn work and remarkable variety of collaborations. He started out in the blues bands of B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf, moved on to play with Chico Hamilton and Cannonball Adderley, and in the ’70s recorded and toured with The Beach Boys. In the mid-’60s, he assembled and fronted a jazz quartet of future all-stars: pianist Keith Jarrett, drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Cecil McBee (later replaced by Ron McClure).

The quartet developed an unlikely following among the flower power generation – they played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1966 – and behind the Iron Curtain, where they toured in 1967. That included a performance in Prague (with McClure on bass), which is still remembered as a breath of freedom before the roof caved in with the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia the following year.

Freedom is still a hallmark of Lloyd’s sound, from his soaring tenor sax solos to the latitude he gives his sidemen. Each of the three in his current band is a star in his own right: pianist Jason Moran, a leader on eight of his own albums and recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Fellowship; bassist Reuben Rogers, who has appeared on more than 70 albums with stars ranging from Joshua Redman to Dianne Reeves; and drummer Eric Harland, who has played on even more recordings with the likes of McCoy Tyner, Terence Blanchard and Dave Holland.

Lloyd calls them “the very best” band he’s ever put together, and after last night’s performance it was easy to see why.

Moran lives in a different world. He plays smart, sensitive melody lines and fills with the group, but in solos he quickly veers into entirely different keys, time signatures and even melodies – then just as abruptly drops back into standard improv on the theme. It’s a unique, inventive style with occasional nods to keyboard masters like Thelonius Monk. But the phrasing and approach are all Moran’s, and they can be riveting.

Rogers is the man of a thousand riffs – he never seems to play the same phrase twice, which is even more impressive when you realize that he’s the rhythmic anchor of the group. He injects sophisticated jazz tempos with funk, blues and grooves, and just when you think you’ve got him figured out, he’s on to something new. No electric bass last night, but he was more than versatile on stand-up, occasionally pulling out a bow for parts that sounded like a cello.

Harland is living proof that a drummer doesn’t have to be loud to be good. He rarely beat on the skins last night; instead, he played percussion, utilizing the entire kit to invoke a full range of dynamics and create distinctive sound sculptures. It was the most intelligent use of drums this critic has seen since Kendrick Scott was here in July with the Terence Blanchard Quintet. But Harland has a language all his own, and when you can captivate a hall full of people with a solo performed almost entirely with brushes, you’re doing something special.

As for Lloyd, at 73 he sounds like a man half his age – clear, robust, fast on the runs and trills, and well-grounded in the tradition. One of the most fascinating things about seeing Lloyd play is hearing echoes of so many people that he’s either worked with or built on – Adderley, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, even blues giants like Howlin’ Wolf and Bobby “Blue” Bland. But his sound has a softer, rounded finish that gives it a modern burnish. And except to introduce the band, he rarely speaks – he lets his horn (or flute or even the piano) do the talking.

Which may be why his music feels so meditative. Lloyd dropped out of the scene for years at a time to retreat into spiritual studies and Transcendental Meditation, and there’s a depth to his music that many artists, no matter how talented they are, never achieve. That quality ran like a subtext through last night’s program, a selection of pieces from his last two albums, finally coming to the fore in “Tagi,” an encore that opened with Lloyd at the piano, reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita.

One of them could be a mantra for Lloyd’s entire life: “Without meditation, where is peace? Without peace, where is happiness?”

For more on Charles Lloyd:

And while the date is wrong, this appears to be an authentic clip from Lloyd’s 1967 appearance in Prague:

Monday, October 24, 2011


October 23

Talk about a class act. The birthday celebration that the Czech Philharmonic gave for conductor Lawrence Foster on Sunday was everything a good gala concert should be: big stars, fine performances, camaraderie and good cheer all around. And in contrast to last year’s tribute to Sir Charles Mackerras, no speeches – just an evening of superb music honoring one of its great practitioners.

An A-list of musical friends.
Foster made an unassuming entrance on a stage jammed with musicians and overflowing with flowers for the opening piece, Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 2. Just as Mackerras championed Janáček, Foster has been the chief promulgator of Enescu’s music to the Western world. So it was a treat to hear him conduct even this small sampling of the Romanian composer. Not as bright or engaging as the familiar Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, No. 2 nonetheless has its own points of interest – regal overtones, compelling solo lines and a warm emotional underpinning. Foster brought all that to life with fine, clear layers of sound and heartfelt expression.

The orchestra shrank to about 30 players and Foster himself took a break when Sarah Chang came out for two short Vivaldi pieces, “Winter” and “Summer” from The Four Seasons. Even that brief appearance was enough to show why the violinist is in such great demand. Chang took one of the most clichéd works in the classical repertoire and gave it substance, playing with a captivating combination of emotion and authority. Now 30, Chang is well past her longtime “child prodigy” label, but still an exceptional talent.

As promised.
Though not the biggest name of the night – not yet, anyway – cellist Alisa Weilerstein made the biggest impression. With Foster and a mid-sized orchestra providing accompaniment, she more than lived up to her advance billing, playing Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with dazzling technique and impassioned eloquence. Weilerstein is a rarity, an intensely focused player who produces a surprisingly light, finely crafted sound. She rarely looks at the strings when she plays; her head is usually tilted back and her eyes closed, like she’s receiving divine inspiration. This performance marked Weilerstein’s Prague debut, and the audience (and many of the musicians) responded with enthusiastic applause, prompting an encore of the piece’s final movement.

After intermission, the second half opened with three gray-haired eminences walking onstage: Foster and pianists Radu Lupu and Daniel Barenboim. They were all business, barely acknowledging the applause as they sat together at one piano and launched into Schubert’s Piano Fantasia in F minor for four hands, with Foster handling the page-turning duties. Barenboim set the tempo in the lower register and Lupu added seamless top melodies in a smart, fluid reading of the piece. Both men can be much more flamboyant; this was a masterful exercise in precision and control.

Barenboim and Lupu went to separate pianos as the orchestra came back onstage for Mozart’s Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in E flat major (KV 365) with Foster at the podium. If the orchestra sounded a bit heavy, perhaps it was because the two pianists played with such elegant lyricism. Barenboim was particularly graceful, playing the solo melody lines like ripples on water. The performance drew animated applause, an amusing contrast to the figures that Lupu and Barenboim cut on stage: in all-black suits with a mien to match, they looked more like undertakers than musicians. A hug from Foster and an armful of flowers finally prompted Barenboim to crack a smile.

Earlier in the week, Foster had pondered letting the orchestra play the finale, “The Moldau” from Smetana’s Má vlast, without a conductor. “It probably would sound the same with or without me,” he said. This critic has to respectfully disagree. Staying at the podium, he lent the piece a deliberate, measured tempo that it doesn’t always have. Foster has said he likes the “burnished gold” sound of the Czech Philharmonic, and it was at the forefront of his interpretation, rich with creamy woodwinds and shimmering strings.

It says something about Foster that his closest friends in the music business span a nearly 40-year age range, from young soloists he helped discover and nurture to major international superstars. Photos in the program of the conductor and his wife Angela with Arthur Rubinstein and Paul McCartney (and a jovial Barenboim!) suggest an even greater breadth of accomplishment and admiration. It’s safe to say that on his 70th birthday, Foster added a few more fans to an already long and impressive list.

For more on Lawrence Foster’s work and career:

Photos: Foster/Marc Ginot; Weilerstein/Jamie Jung

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


October 14

A brilliant performance by an outstanding soloist.

Brno pianist Igor Ardašev doesnt perform in Prague very often. In fact, he doesn’t perform very much anywhere these days, preferring a quiet life in Moravia to the rigors of concert tours. Which is a shame, as Ardašev is arguably the finest pianist in the country, a laureate of Prague Spring and the International Tchaikovsky Competition, just to mention two of his many awards, and a recording star for Supraphon.

So it was treat to see him onstage with the Czech Philharmonic last week, and for an outstanding piece: Martinů’s Piano concerto No. 4,Incantation.” A two-movement work composed in New York in the mid-1950s, the concerto preceded Martinů’s monumental, groundbreaking opera The Greek Passion, and shares a number of its elements – a free-form structure, cinematic orchestration, neoclassical in some respects but unmistakably modern. It’s an exhilarating work that calls for a highly disciplined yet flexible approach.

Ardašev was brilliant, attacking the piece with a sharp staccato style that fell just short of banging. Lots of pianists can hammer way on demanding solos; few can do it with the finesse that Ardašev showed, matching the intensity of the orchestra without losing any fluency or precision. Even in the frantic piano passages that start to cascade in the second movement, he played with elegance and fine attention to detail.

In some ways, his encore, Martinů’s Obkročák, was even more impressive. With room for phrasing and expression, Ardašev opened up his style and turned a brief dance into a smart, playful romp. He walks the keyboard like he owns it, one of those remarkable musicians with complete mastery of his instrument. His performance left this critic wishing that Ardašev would venture out more – not just for classical concerts, but into other types of music. It would be fascinating to see what he could do with some jazz standards.

The second half of the 20th-century program was a performance of the complete Firebird ballet score by Stravinsky, a welcome commemoration of the composer’s death (he died in 1971). Typically The Firebird is performed in concert as a suite, which this critic had always assumed was enough. But hearing the entire work was a revelation – the way it builds, the overlapping lines, the solo passages for bassoon and flute in full context, the vivid colors that flash and turn and shimmer in movement after unprecedented movement. In its totality, the piece is so rich and expressive that having dancers perform the narrative seems almost superfluous.

Conductor Eliahu Inbal showed tremendous command, steering the orchestra through all the drama and wild swings of mood and tone with careful balance and striking agility. Segueing adroitly from gossamer enchantments to explosions of infernal dancing, he maintained a consistent internal core while emphasizing elements of whimsy, fantasy and suspense. Inbal built the piece to maximum volume and impact, but kept the playing crisp and sensitive, never overwhelming.

For fans of quieter music, the Czech Philharmonic Quartet offered a tasty program earlier in the week at the other end of the Rudolfinum, in Suk Hall. Many members of the orchestra play in chamber groups, and this one is particularly good, embodying a highly skilled, straightforward approach to the music. At this appearance, the group seemed to be warming up with Mozart’s String Quartet in G major (K 387), but picked up the pace nicely with two short Shostakovich pieces, and finished with an inspired rendition of Fibich’s String Quartet No. 2 in G major, imbuing its rich melodies with deep resonance and colorful contrasts.

All of which offers a reminder of why the Czech Philharmonic is still the standard-bearer in a city with five working orchestras and innumerable chamber groups. Each has its strengths and specialties. But for authoritative, intelligent interpretations of a broad repertoire, the Czech Philharmonic is still the ticket.

To hear Igor Ardašev play Martinů’s Obkročák:

For more on the Czech Philharmonic Quartet:

Sunday, October 16, 2011


October 12

Adept at both the classical and modern repertoire.

One of the advantages of being the junior orchestra in town is that you can be more creative in your programming. In the case of the Prague Philharmonia, it’s not a matter of expectations; the orchestra has a substantial subscriber base that, like most audiences in Prague, prefers a conservative approach to the classics. But the Philharmonia isn’t obligated to promulgate the Czech canon, like the Czech Philharmonic or Prague Symphony Orchestra. And with a relatively young group of players (average age: 34) and a baby-faced Music Director and Chief Conductor (Jakub Hrůša, 30) at the helm, it’s open to new ideas.

You can’t get much newer than the Czech premiere of Kryštof Mařatka’s Praharphona, the centerpiece of the Philharmonia’s opening concert of the 2011-12 season. Written in 2009 for harpist Jana Boušková, the piece is a modernist tone poem depicting the sights and sounds of Prague in eight movements. This critic is a fan of Mařatka, and Praharphona did not disappoint. In sustained string and wind textures, the music portrays moonlit nights and dark cobblestone streets, swelling to explosions of electric demagoguery, a raging river Vltava and a raucous pub.

Cool composer.
There is lively percussion throughout, not all of it orthodox – in one movement, the musicians stamp their feet. Mařatka likes to score for unusual instruments, and this piece employs several – a slide whistle, harmonica, even kazoos – to humorous effect. It’s hard to think of another contemporary composer who juxtaposes serious and whimsical elements so well.

The demands were no less strenuous on Boušková, who seldom played a standard harp line. More often she was plucking the strings pizzicato-style, or banging on them with the flat of her hand, or on the harp body for percussive effect. In the opening movement, she ran a plastic ruler along the strings to get a particularly sharp sound. Not all musicians can make this work – or even want to. But Boušková is a consummate pro who regularly toggles between the classical and modern repertoire, and it was clear she was having fun. By the end of the final movement, which finishes in an accompanying calligram with 13 slash marks (signifying beers), many of the other musicians onstage were smiling and laughing as well.

The program opened with Gounod’s Petite Symphonie for Winds, a delightful chamber work for a nine-piece oboe, clarinet, flute, bassoon and French horn ensemble. With nods to Mozart and Haydn, the piece establishes a basic symphonic framework in each of its four movements, then runs through fast-paced, colorful combinations of instruments and tones more typical of chamber music. Bright and catchy, it’s like pop music of the 1880s. The performance tailed off a bit at the end, but otherwise Hrůša drew a full, well-rounded sound from the group.

The evening closed with Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, typically a problematic piece that Hrůša handled with aplomb, emphasizing its lyrical qualities and lustrous tones. Shallow at first, the sound took on depth and dynamics as the piece unfolded, with fine contrasts of power and delicacy. The final movement may have been a bit too fast – some of the crispness and definition that characterized the earlier movements was lost. But overall, the piece offered an impressive demonstration of what a good conductor can do with just 42 instruments. Reputedly better orchestras that have appeared at the Rudolfinum in recent weeks with twice that number of players onstage were not nearly as sharp and clear.

In all, a nicely balanced program with something for every taste, intelligently assembled and smartly performed. And bold. After all, what other orchestra, especially in Prague, would open the season with kazoos in hand?

For a closer look at the Prague Philharmonia:

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Spanish Synagogue
October 11

The New Babylon: Inspired agitprop.

Who knew propaganda could be so entertaining? The Berg Orchestras performance of soundtracks to two silent films at the Spanish Synagogue earlier this week was not only a musical tour de force, but an enlightening excursion to the early years of Russian cinema.

After a brief stop in America. The program opened with a D.W. Griffith one-reeler, A Child of the Ghetto (1910), the heartwarming story of an impoverished young Jewish woman who manages to escape the pitfalls of New York’s Lower East Side and find a new life and love on a farm. It’s stereotypical silent fare, notable chiefly for Griffith’s evocation of the teeming streets of the ghetto, jammed with peddlers and immigrants.

A new soundtrack by Czech composer Jan Dušek got off to a promising start, with light woodwinds that offered a hopeful counterpoint to the grim ghetto scenes. But as the movie grew more melodramatic, so did the music, which sounded positively cheesy by the end. Still, it was a perfect match for the film, mirroring the heroine’s travails and redemption in the New World.

The New Babylon (1929) is an unabashed piece of Russian agitprop, drawing on the novels of Emile Zola to recount the rise and fall of the Paris Commune in 1871. The title refers to the central metaphor of the film, a department store where the frenzy of consumption makes today’s credit debacle seem tame. But even that pales beside the debauchery of the bourgeoisie prior to the Prussian siege of Paris, where a wild-eyed, delirious bunch in tuxedos and evening gowns sate every appetite while the world crumbles around them.

But on a purely artistic level, the film is dazzling. Jewish Ukrainian directors Leonid Trauberg and Grigori Kozincev show influences ranging from Griffith to Dada in their riveting images of a clockwork consumer culture, invading armies, decadent behavior and human anguish. Typical of the period, most of the acting is overwrought. Yet much of it is cleverly staged, with full-lit figures emoting in the foreground while epic action unfolds behind them, in silhouettes and shadows and a haze of movement that looks like rear projection. The juxtaposition of sweeping historical forces and personal tragedy is as good as anything from the silent era.

This is due in no small part to the score, written by 23-year old Dmitri Shostakovich. In excerpts from an essay thoughtfully included in the program, he noted that most composers regard soundtrack work as “a swamp that threatens to submerge anyone coming in contact with it, annihilating their talent.” Shostakovich never felt that way. He gladly took on what he called “cinematic illustration” early in his career, and returned to it when Soviet censors shut down his serious work; he even scored cartoons.

His music for The New Babylon is like a continuous symphonic work, establishing themes and then developing them over the course of scenes and sequences. Rather than trying to match the action onscreen, Shostakovich creates a rhythm, melody or mood and then stays with it, often as a counterpoint. An ominous march accompanying the invading German army, for example, continues even as the scene switches to a nearly deserted nightclub – “reminding the viewer of the terrible force that has been unleashed,” as the composer says in his essay.

And quite uncharacteristic of his later music, there are wonderful touches of humor. Shostakovich incorporates snatches of popular music of the time – waltzes, cancans, bits of Offenbach operettas – and makes very effective use of La Marseillaise.

The Berg ensemble pulled all this off with panache, playing with controlled bursts of emotion and exquisite timing. A shot of hands playing the piano in The New Babylon matched perfectly the keyboard sound from the orchestra. If you were sitting in the back of the room, where the orchestra was out of sight, it was easy to forget they were there – the best compliment an ensemble can get for live film accompaniment.

Next month, the Berg Orchestra will reprise its performance of Heiner Goebbels’ Schwarz auf Weiss at Veletržní palác (Nov. 25, 26 & 27). If you haven’t seen it, put it on your calendar. Like the silents, it’s a rare and entertaining event.

For more on Schwarz auf Weiss:

For a closer look at The New Babylon:

Monday, October 10, 2011


National Theater
October 8

High jinks with high chairs: Briscein, Vele and Kněžíková.  

Bigger isn’t always better, especially when the subject matter is a light comedy set in a small Czech village. But the National Theater’s new production of Dvořák’s Jakobín manages to upsize the dimensions of the story and turn it into a fast-paced romp without losing any of its charm.

The sets are straight out of Gulliver's Travels, dominated by Brobdingnagian chairs, books and doors that dwarf the performers, reinforcing their roles as schoolchildren. Director Jiří Heřman opens up the production even more by dissolving the fourth wall, starting the action onstage before the music begins, putting singers and actors in the audience, even turning the conductor into a performer at one point. The overall effect is a beguiling mix of awe and intimacy, a classic child’s view of the world.

This would seem an odd choice for a politically charged story of a prodigal son returning home, and the travails he faces trying to reunite with his estranged father. Bohuš brings a wife, Julie, and two children with him. But his father, Count Vilém, thinking that Bohuš joined the Jacobin movement in Paris, has chosen a new heir – his nefarious nephew, Adolf. Meanwhile, two young lovers, Jiří and Terinka, face their own political problems as the village Burgrave, Filip, pursues Terinka. Her father, schoolmaster Benda, thinks the May-December match is a great idea, and does his best to keep Jiří and Terinka apart while preparing a choral serenade for the count.

This Jakobín, however, is not about politics. The title is crossed off (in blackboard chalk) on the program cover and replaced with Matčina píseň (Mother’s song), a key plot point that also shifts the focus to children and family, lending the production a light-hearted buoyancy and emotional warmth.

What makes all this work is the pacing. The production moves at a rapid clip – a departure for Heřman, who usually prefers slow-motion – with plenty of sight gags and peripheral action to help create the atmosphere of a happy melee. Even more impressive is the nonstop run of big production numbers, with mobs of singers and dancers wheeling around oversized props and doing some very fancy choreography with a riot of wooden chairs. Coupled with Dvořák’s vibrant, melodious music, it’s an engaging whirl of sight and sound.

Unfortunately, the staging runs out of gas in the third act. The sets have lost their novelty, making a giant chair a poor substitute for a throne. The long-awaited family reunion is a bit of a letdown; for all the finesse he shows with upbeat comedy, Heřman seems unsure how to handle an emotional climax. And while Adolf and Filip certainly deserve their comeuppance, this one is particularly unimaginative; by the final curtain, they literally have no place to go.

The music stays strong, however, under the capable baton of Tomáš Netopil. After a fine run of Mozart comedies at the Estates Theater, Netopil shows the same sure hand with Dvořák, invoking the broad range of emotions in his score without sacrificing any of its intelligence. The orchestra gives a nuanced performance throughout, with crisp solo lines, vivid colors and quick turns that punctuate the action onstage.

The Oct. 8 premiere featured all house singers in the cast, which is exactly right for a Dvořák opera. Both Roman Jánal (Bohuš) and Maria Kobielska (Julie) started out tentatively, but picked up convincing strength and volume by the final act. Kateřina Kněžíková, who has a gift for light comedy, sparkled as Terinka. Aleš Briscein (Jiří) and Vladimír Doležal (Benda) got nice hands at curtain call, but for this critic, Luděk Vele (Filip) was the most interesting male performer of the evening, wooing Terinka with just the right combination of lechery and foppishness.

And one day, the National Theater chorus will get the credit it deserves. The Kühn Children’s Choir has the spotlight in this production, scampering around the stage in school uniforms while contributing bright, spirited vocals. But the adult chorus once again turned in a fine performance that anchored the entire production. In particular, the scene in which the women dash into the classroom to warn Benda that strangers are in the village was as sharp as anything in recent memory.

This is the thirteenth production of Jakobín at the National Theater since it premiered there in February 1889, and it would have been easy to just go through the motions. Instead, Heřman and Netopil have breathed new life into it with a lively production that stays true to the material while developing fresh ideas. For an evening of light entertainment in Prague this season, you won’t do better.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Rudolfinum, Divadlo Archa, Hluboká Chateau
October 4 – November 1

Paavo Jarvi adds some gravitas to a lightweight program.

More a patchwork of concerts than a true festival, Radio Autumn is not what its founders envisioned when they launched it in 2009. The idea was to fill the gap created by the demise of Prague Autumn by bringing Europeʼs finest radio ensembles to Prague – not just symphony orchestras, but choirs, traditional folk groups and jazz big bands sponsored by members of the European Broadcasting Union. The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra would anchor the festival, and Czech Radio would record and broadcast all the concerts through the EBU network.

The key to making this happen was picking up Prague Autumnʼs principal sponsor, Zentiva. But the pharmaceutical company got out of the cultural sponsorship business when it joined the Sanofi group in 2010. Then Dvořákʼs Prague muscled onto the fall calendar with major sponsors, large grants from the city and state, and star performers. That left the Radio Autumn organizers with great ideas, but no money to realize them.

Itʼs quite a difficult situation,” says Jakub Čížek, head of International Relations at Czech Radio. “You need a long-term sponsor to plan content and programming, which is normally done two or three years in advance. But weʼve never been able to get one. So every year, we decide at the last minute whether to do the festival or not.”

As a result, Čížek and his team have to schedule orchestras already on tour, and pick up whatever else they can locally. Which is not to say that Radio Autumn is without merit; despite the difficulties, this yearʼs schedule includes some worthwhile concerts and performers.

The festival opens tonight (Oct. 4) with a wild card: Babel Prague, a new two-day excursion in “improvisation and sound adventures.” The headliner, Pauline Oliveros, is a longtime avant-garde composer and improvisational musician from the U.S. At 79, Oliveros hardly looks the part; but when she plugs her accordion into her laptop, sheʼs a master of imaginative soundscapes. Czech Radio will be doing a live broadcast of tonightʼs concert, which also includes a performance of Steve Reichʼs Pendulum Music and an improvisational set by an “electro-acoustic” quartet.

The organizers approached us with this project, which fits into a genre we have at the station for new works called Ars Acustica,” Čížek says. “I donʼt know how many stations will pick up the broadcast. But our intention was always to present a wide spectrum of music, so itʼs good for the festival.”

The centerpiece of Radio Autumn is two concerts by the Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester, better-known outside Germany as the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. (Oct. 8 & 9). Led by Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi, the orchestra is noted for its broad repertoire and recordings of Bruckner and Mahler symphonies. Its first evening will be devoted entirely to Brucknerʼs Symphony No. 8 (Oct. 8). The following night, the orchestra will play Weber, Mozart and Schubert, with Georgian pianist Khatia Buniathashvili soloing on Mozartʼs Piano concerto No. 23 in A major.

The other three concerts offer mainstream favorites. The Pilsen Philharmonic will be in town to provide accompaniment for the winners of the Concertino Praga competition (Oct. 17). Held annually by Czech Radio for musicians 18 and younger, this yearʼs competition produced three laureates: trumpeter Walter Hofbauer, flutist Veronika Blachuta and violinist Jan Mráček.

The concert gives these young players a chance to perform on a big stage with a full orchestra,” Čížek says. “Itʼs always been quite popular, and judging by ticket sales, it will be again this year too.”

The festival then moves to Hluboká Chateau in southern Bohemia for a chamber music concert by a clarinet quartet from Bratislava (Oct. 18). And it concludes with a performance by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra of a Saint-Saëns concerto, with Jan Simon on piano, and a set of Dvořák favorites: Slavonic Dances Nos. 9 & 10 and Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.”

The program is not as inventive as we would like,” Čížek admits. “But weʼre recording and broadcasting the concerts, which was one of our original goals. And the basic idea is good – there are many high-quality radio ensembles that we would like to bring to Prague. So we hope to find a general sponsor someday.”

For a complete Radio Autumn schedule and ticket information: