Dvořák Prague festival starts in less than a month

Several visiting orchestras chamber groups will delve into the composer's oeuvre and other works

The annual Dvořák Prague festival will run from Sept. 4 to 24 with visiting orchestras and chamber groups alongside local talent. The festival, now in its ninth year, is dedicated to the music of Antonín Dvořák, but music of other composers is also heavily featured.

The festival's principal aim is to in the long run present the entire body of musical works composed by Dvořák.

The program in Prague starts Sept. 5 with a gala concert, but a day before that there is always an out-of-town event related to Dvořák's life. This year, a steam train goes to Nelahozeves, the town of his birth, just ahead to what would have been his 175th birthday. The trip will include a concert of piano pieces that was originally played by Dvořák himself in 1899. The train departs from and returns to Masarykovo nádraží.

The opening gala concert at the Rudolfinum on Sept. 5 features Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, led by directed by Christian Thielemann. The ensemble will perform works by Max Reger, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Richard Strauss. Beethoven's violin concerto will feature soloist Nikolay Znaider.

Other visiting orchestras include London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gianandra Noseda, with a program of a Dvořák concerto and a symphony by Rachmaninov.

The closing on Sept. 24 will see Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, led by conductor Antonio Pappano, in a program of Rossini and Tchaikovsky.

The Czech Philharmonic will also make two appearances, with Jiří Bělohlávek and Jakub Hrůša conducting on different nights. Dvořák will be on both programs.

The program director of the Chamber Society series will be British violinist Daniel Hope who will be aided by Czech pianist Ivo Kahánek and leading personalities of New York's Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han. The Chamber Society series each year has a curator who puts his or her own stamp on the program. This is the first time a foreigner has taken up the task. Hope was born in South Africa but his family moved to the UK when he was a baby. His father is novelist Christopher Hope.

In addition to the chamber program, Hope and Kahánek will be featured as soloists in a concert with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra from Switzerland.

Another festival high point will be a recital by Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky. Other soloists who will perform include violinists Hilary Hahn and Gil Shaham.

Dvořák Prague this year includes all Dvořák's concert overtures and symphonic poems inspired by the Bouquet, a collection of ballads written by Czech poet Karel Jaromir Erben. The Spiritual Concern series will bring together works by Renaissance polyphony masters and the contemporary music of John Tavener in performances at St. Vitus Cathedral.

As usual, the program will include concerts for families, this time featuring the duo Igudesman & Joo, and “Day D” (for discovery day), an event dedicated to young artists.

The festival's main venue will be the Rudolfinum. The Chamber Society series will be presented in the St. Agnes Cloister.

For more information visit www.dvorakovapraha.cz.

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