Dmitry Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57
Antonín Dvořák: Piano Trio No. 4, Op. 90, B. 166, ʻDumkyʻ
The concluding concert of the Chamber Series presents encounters between its protagonists –series curator and pianist Boris Giltburg with the Pavel Haas Quartet – as well as between two great composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. They will be heard in reverse chronological order, however, so the last word will belong to the Czech composer to whom the whole festival and the Dvořák Collection series are dedicated. This is also a meeting of two masters of contrast: one who tends to be kind and gentle, the other, often sharply ironic.
Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Piano Quintet in G Minor in 1940. Before that, he had been hard at work on his Symphony No. 6 and an arrangement of Mussorgsky’s opera Boris Godunov, so it might seem that writing this quintet was something of a breather for him. This transparent, classical-sounding music is still teeming with emotion and playfulness with a constant emanation of melancholy. Dvořák’s last piano trio, nicknamed “Dumky”, is oriented towards the east but in a diametrically opposite mood. It took inspiration from a Ukrainian song form with an alternation of wild and pensive passages.
After victories at the Prague Spring Competition and the Premio Paolo Borciani in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 2005 the Pavel Haas Quartet quickly won itself a place among today’s most prominent chamber ensembles. The quartet members studied with Milan Škampa, the legendary violist of the Smetana Quartet. The Pavel Haas Quartet appears at the most important concert halls around the world. In 2007 the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) named the Pavel Haas Quartet as one of its “Rising Stars”. This gave the group the unique opportunity to appear in a series of concerts at important concert venues. From 2007 to 2009 they took part in the BBC New Generation Artists programme, and in 2010 they won a special scholarship from the Borletti–Buitoni Trust. The Pavel Haas Quartet records exclusively for Supraphon. They have eight albums to their credit, and all of their CDs have won significant international awards – the Diapason d’Or de l’année, the BBC Music Magazine Award for two albums, and the Gramophone Award on six occasions. The quartet is named for the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944), whose musical legacy includes three magnificent string quartets.
The superb Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg is one of the most sought-after soloists of his generation. His victory at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 2013 became a springboard that launched a dizzying artistic career. In addition to giving solo recitals at some of the world’s most illustrious venues (including London’s Wigmore Hall and the Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie), Giltburg has been invited to collaborate with such orchestras as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Chamber music has benefitted from his longstanding collaboration with the Pavel Haas Quartet. Although his repertoire is quite broad, critics have often referred to him as a specialist in the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in 2020, Giltburg recorded all 32 of the composer’s piano sonatas and all five piano concertos. He devotes himself intensively to popularising classical music – besides writing articles for various publications, he also has his own blog: “Classical music for all”.
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.