Johannes Brahms: Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
If you had to pick the best of Brahms’s four symphonies, you could draw numbers from a hat – whichever one you drew, you would not be disappointed.
Or you could just go straight for the first one. The composer was meticulous in his approach and spent a staggering 21 years perfecting this composition. Thanks to this, his very first symphony was so advanced and intricate that it left the audience speechless. As described by Romantic-era composer Hans von Bülow, the symphony is still sometimes referred to as “Beethoven’s Tenth”. Brahms was unconcerned, though, with the similarity that some of his motifs bore towards his esteemed predecessor, and indeed he took Beethoven’s style to the next level.
In comparison, Brahms’s orchestral compositions end with the Double Concerto in A Minor, in which the orchestra is intensified and enhanced by soloists. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Kian Soltani, both of whom are returning to Dvořák Prague after four years, having previously delighted audiences with their outstanding performances and their charm.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1936 by Bronislaw Huberman and its inaugural concert, on 26 December 1936, was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. The IPO plays in subscription series in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, in special concerts and in various concert series throughout Israel. The IPO regularly tours the world's cultural centers and prestigious festivals.
Israel's creative artists are promoted by many IPO premieres of works by Israeli composers. The IPO has contributed to the absorption of new immigrants and includes in its ranks new immigrant musicians. The orchestra has hosted the world's greatest conductors and soloists, as well as young talents from Israel and abroad. As part of KeyNote, the IPO's music education and outreach program, IPO musicians perform in numerous schools and concerts for school pupils at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
In 1969 Maestro Zubin Mehta was appointed Music Advisor to the IPO and in 1977 he became its Music Director. Maestro Mehta retired in October 2019 and following his retirement, the IPO has named him Music Director Emeritus. Lahav Shani became Music Director in the 2020–21 season.
From 2018, Lahav Shani has been the Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. From the 20/21 season he started his position as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, taking over from Zubin Mehta who held the position for 50 years. Shani was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
In June 2016 Shani debuted with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra as conductor and solo pianist. No less than two months later, his appointment as Chief Conductor was announced and he became the youngest conductor to hold the position in the orchestra’s history. The Rotterdam Philharmonic with Shani have an exklusive recording contract with Warner Classics.
Shani’s close relationship with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began well over 10 years ago. He debuted with the orchestra aged sixteen, and in 2007 performed Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto under the baton of Zubin Mehta aged eighteen. He then went on to play regularly with the orchestra as a double bassist. In 2013, after winning the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, the orchestra invited him to step in to conduct their season-opening concerts. Since then, he has returned to the orchestra every year as both a conductor and pianist.
Recent and upcoming guest conductor highlights include engagements with Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhaus Orchester,Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, London Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia Orchestra. In the 2022/2023 season, Shani will begin his 3-year residency at the Konzerthaus Dortmund.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1989, Shani began his piano studies aged six with Hannah Shalgi, before continuing with Prof. Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. He went on to study conducting under Prof. Christian Ehwald and piano with Prof. Fabio Bidini at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler, Berlin and was mentored by Daniel Barenboim during his time there.
As a pianist, Shani has performed as a soloist with Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta and Gianandrea Noseda. He has play-directed piano concerti with many orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Staatskapelle Berlin and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Shani also has considerable experience performing chamber music and in recital and is a regular performer at the Verbier Festival, and has also appeared at the Aix-en-Provence Easter and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals.
Gil Shaham is one of the foremost violinists of our time; his flawless technique combined with his inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit has solidified his renown as an American master. The Grammy Award-winner, also named Musical America’s “Instrumentalist of the Year,” is sought after throughout the world for concerto appearances with leading orchestras and conductors, and regularly gives recitals and appears with ensembles on the world’s great concert stages and at the most prestigious festivals.
Highlights of recent years include the acclaimed recording and performances of J.S. Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas for solo violin. In the coming seasons in addition to championing these solo works he will join his long-time duo partner pianist, Akira Eguchi in recitals throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
Appearances with orchestra regularly include the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, and San Francisco Symphony as well as multi-year residencies with the Orchestras of Montreal, Stuttgart and Singapore. With orchestra, Mr. Shaham continues his exploration of “Violin Concertos of the 1930s,” including the works of Barber, Bartok, Berg, Korngold, Prokofiev, among many others.
Mr. Shaham has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, earning multiple Grammys, a Grand Prix du Disque, Diapason d’Or, and Gramophone Editor’s Choice. Many of these recordings appear on Canary Classics, the label he founded in 2004. His CDs include 1930s Violin Concertos, Virtuoso Violin Works, Elgar’s Violin Concerto, Hebrew Melodies, The Butterfly Lovers and many more. His most recent recording in the series 1930s Violin Concertos Vol. 2, including Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto and Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2, was nominated for a Grammy Award. His latest recording of Beethoven and Brahms Concertos with The Knights was released in 2021.
Mr. Shaham was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1971. He moved with his parents to Israel, where he began violin studies with Samuel Bernstein of the Rubin Academy of Music at the age of 7, receiving annual scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. In 1981, he made debuts with the Jerusalem Symphony and the Israel Philharmonic, and the following year, took the first prize in Israel’s Claremont Competition. He then became a scholarship student at Juilliard, and also studied at Columbia University.
Gil Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. In 2012, he was named “Instrumentalist of the Year” by Musical America. He plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius and performs on an Antonio Stradivari violin, Cremona c1719, with the assistance of Rare Violins In Consortium, Artists and Benefactors Collaborative. He lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their three children.
Hailed by The Times as a “remarkable cellist” and described by Gramophone as “sheer perfection”, Kian Soltani’s playing is characterised by a depth of expression, sense of individuality and technical mastery, alongside a charismatic stage presence and ability to create an immediate emotional connection with his audience. He is now invited by the world’s leading orchestras, conductors and recital promoters, propelling him from rising star to one of the most talked about cellists performing today.
In 2022/23 Soltani opens this season with many festival appearances including BBC Proms, Bregenz Festspiele, Rheingau Musik Festival, Vaduz Classic Festival, Tsinandali Festival, and Kronberg Festival. He continues to appear in other festivals throughout the year in Samobor Festival in Croatia, as well as Cello Biennale in Amsterdam. In between and following the festivals will be populated with his debut with Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jader Bignamini, tour with Amsterdam Sinfonietta, and his return to Vienna Symphony and Festival Strings Lucerne in the Spring.
Recent orchestral highlights include the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, WDR Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya. Soltani was Artist-in-Residence at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in July 2021 in which he curated concerts including a Persian evening with the Shiraz Ensemble. Soltani commenced a multi-year residency with Junge Wilde at Konzerthaus Dortmund in Autumn 2018. As a recitalist, Soltani has recently performed at Carnegie Hall, Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals, Wigmore Hall and the Boulez Saal, where he was invited to curate an evening of cello music.
In 2017, Soltani signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon and his first disc ‘Home’, comprising works for cello and piano by Schubert, Schumann and Reza Vali, was released to international acclaim in 2018, with Gramophone describing the recording as “sublime”. Soltani has since recorded discs including the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky Piano Trios with Lahav Shani and Renaud Capucon, recorded live at Aix Easter Festival in 2018 released by Warner Classics and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim in August 2020.
He recently won Innovative Listening Experience Award at the coveted Opus Klassic Awards 2022, Germany’s most prestigious classical music prize which honours outstanding artists and recordings, for his ‘Cello Unlimited’ album released back in October 2021. He has worked on this latest disc with Deutsche Grammophon during the entirety of 2020, and it is a celebration of the cello and film music. Of the disc, Soltani wrote “Everything you will hear on this album is made only and exclusively with my cello and played only by me. The possibilities of this instrument are unlimited and infinite, and this album is a celebration of the instrument and of epic film music as well”.
Soltani attracted worldwide attention in April 2013 as winner of the International Paulo Cello Competition in Helsinki. In February 2017 Soltani won Germany’s celebrated Leonard Bernstein Award and in December 2017, he was awarded the prestigious Credit Suisse Young Artist Award.
Born in Bregenz, Austria, in 1992 to a family of Persian musicians, Soltani began playing the cello at age four and was only twelve when he joined Ivan Monighetti’s class at the Basel Music Academy. He was chosen as an Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation scholarship holder in 2014 and completed his further studies as a member of the Young Soloist Programme at Germany’s Kronberg Academy. He received additional important musical training at the International Music Academy in Liechtenstein.
The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.