Ludwig van Beethoven: String Trio in G major, Op. 9, No. 1
Alfred Schnittke: String trio
Antonín Dvořák: Piano Quartet Mo. 0 in Eflat major, Op. 87, B. 162
A second contribution to the exclusive Dvořák Collection series at this year's festival will again be a piano quartet - the second and final work that Antonín Dvořák created for this combination of instruments. While the First Piano Quartet showed Dvořák on the path towards a style of his own, the Piano Quartet No. 2 in E Flat Major (1889) shows him at the absolute height of his creative powers. That same year, the composer finished his Eighth Symphony, in two years he became a professor at the Prague Conservatoire, and after two more years he departed for the USA to serve as director of a conservatoire in New York. For this performance of Dvořák's chamber music masterpiece at the St Agnes Convent, the pianist Lukáš Vondráček, curator of the festival's Chamber Series, will again joining with violinist Josef Špaček, the violist Jakub Fišer, and the cellist Tomáš Jamník. Preceding their performance of Dvořák's quartet will be the String Trio in G Major by Ludwig van Beethoven and the String Trio by Alfred Schnittke. Beethoven's trio represents the period when the twenty-eight-year-old composer was creating a style of his own and preparing the way for his first six string quartets and the First Symphony. Schnittke dedicated his String Trio (1985) to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alban Berg, and in it he graphically demonstrates his ability to combine several different styles and mould them into a single style of his own. In this case, he mixes Berg's harmonies with the rhythm of the tune Happy Birthday as if it were absolutely natural.
Praised for his remarkable range of colours, his confident and concentrated stage presence, his virtuosity, and technical poise as well as the beauty of his tone Josef Špaček has gradually emerged as one of the leading violinists of his generation. His performances of a wide range of repertoire demonstrate his “astonishing articulation and athleticism” (The Scotsman) and “a richness and piquancy of timbre.” (The Telegraph).
He appears with orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique du Capitole de Toulouse, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen and the Kammerakademie Potsdam.
Josef Špaček collaborates with eminent conductors such as Jakub Hrůša, Semyon Bychkov, Manfred Honeck, Valery Gergiev, Thomas Adès, Krzysztof Urbański, James Gaffigan, James Conlon, Maxim Emelyanchev, the late Jiří Bělohlávek, Petr Popelka, Thomas Søndergård, Cornelius Meister, Michael Sanderling, David Zinman, Eliahu Inbal, Tomáš Netopil, Pietari Inkinen, Marc Albrecht, Aziz Shokhakimov, Christian Vasquez, Jahja Ling and Lio Kuokman.
He equally enjoys giving recitals and playing chamber music and is a regular guest at festivals and in concert halls throughout Europe (among others at the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam, the Kronberg Academy, the Evian Festival, the Kaposfest and at Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (among others at Kennedy Center, Washington D.C., 92Y in New York, La Jolla in San Diego, the ChamberFest Cleveland and the Nevada Chamber Music Festival).
In the summer of 2021 he made highly successful debuts at the Verbier Festival and Leif Ove Andsnes' Rosendal Festival.
His chamber music partners include Gil Shaham, Kian Soltani, James Ehnes, Clemens Hagen, Julian Steckel, Gerhard Oppitz, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Máté Szücs, Miroslav Sekera, Tomáš Jamník, Federico Colli, Sharon Kam, Kristóf Baráti, Zoltan Fejervari and Suzana Bartal.
In April 2022 Supraphon released Josef Špaček's latest CD recording on which he is joined by cellist Tomáš Jamník. It features works for violin and cello by Janáček, Martinů, Schulhoff and Klein, including a transcription of Janáček's string quartet no. 1 for violin/ cello duo. His previous Supraphon release is a highly praised recording of the violin concertos of Dvořák and Janáček, coupled with the Fantasy of Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. The Sunday Times wrote: “The violinist’s individual, deeply considered and virtuosic account of Dvorak’s solo part is the highlight of this keenly conceived programme”, adding that “in this repertoire, Špaček is second to none today.” It was the “Recording of the week” of The Sunday Times, Recording of the month & of the year of MusicWeb International and it received 5* in Diapason. Other recordings to date are a recital disc with works for violin and piano by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev with pianist Miroslav Sekera (Supraphon), works for violin solo and violin and piano by H.W. Ernst (Naxos) and an early CD with the complete Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.
Josef Špaček studied with Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School in New York, Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with Jaroslav Foltýn at the Prague Conservatory. He was laureate of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and won top prizes at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.
He served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in ist history. The orchestra named him “Associate Artist” as of January 2016. He held this post until the end of the 2019/20 season and has since devoted himself exclusively to his solo career.
Josef Špaček performs on the ca. 1732 “LeBrun; Bouthillard” Guarneri del Gesù violin, generously on loan from Ingles & Hayday.
He lives in Prague with his wife and their three children. In his spare time he enjoys cycling.
Jakub Fišer is a graduate of the Prague Conservatoire and of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He studied violin under Prof. Bublová, Prof. Metelková, Prof. Foltýn, and Prof. Čepický. He has achieved success at numerous international competitions (incl. the Slovak competition Čírenie talentov, the Kocián Violin Competition, and Beethoven’s Hradec). In 2011 he won the Josef Hlávka Foundation Award. Jakub Fišer appeared several times as a soloist in the series “Josef Suk Presents Young Talents”, and he has given solo performances at concerts of the Prague Chamber Philharmonic, the Hradec Králové Philharmonic, and the Pilsen Philharmonic. He has participated at masterclasses with Shlomo Mintz, Semyon Yaroshevich, and Stephen Shipps. He has served as concertmaster of the Prague Chamber Philharmonic and as a guest concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic and the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern. At present, he is the first violinist of the Bennewitz Quartet. He also appears occasionally as a soloist. For example, at the Chopin Festival in Mariánské Lázně he joined with Jiří Bárta and Roman Patočka in playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Tomáš Jamník is a Czech cellist, currently residing in Berlin and Prague. Recognized for his in-depth knowledge of each performed piece, attention to detail, and strong interest in bringing less-well-known music to a wider audience, Tomáš has established himself as a celebrated soloist in both classical and contemporary music.
In 2006 he won the Prague Spring International Music Competition and was awarded several special prizes, in 2011 he was also a finalist at the Pierre Fourniere Award in London. Since then, Tomáš has performed extensively with top international orchestras in Europe, the U.S., and Asia, including the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra London. He is also respected as a chamber musician.
In the 2022–23 season, Tomáš will appear at the Prague Spring International Festival with the Prague Symphony Orchestra performing Capriccio by Jan Novák. In June 2023 he will tour with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra performing Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto. During the season Tomáš will also give recitals and teach at the US universities (including the New York University and Juilliard School) thanks to the Fulbright-Masaryk scholarship.
Alongside his interpretational career, Tomáš is an enthusiastic educator and promoter of classical music. Since 2015, he has served as the artistic director of the Czech Chamber Music Academy, which cooperates with the German foundation Villa Musica, and in 2019 he became the artistic director of the Ševčík Academy, which focuses on advancing the teaching method of the legendary pedagogue Otakar Ševčík. In 2016, he founded the Vážný zájem (“Serious interest”) project, which helps organize classical music concerts in people’s homes.
Tomáš began his musical training in the Czech Republic under Mirko and Martin Škampa and graduated under Josef Chuchro at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. He continued at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig under Peter Bruns and at the Universität der Künste Berlin under Jens Peter Maintz. He enriched his education at the Karajan Academy of Berliner Philharmoniker under Ludwig Quandt and at the Kronberg Academy under Steven Isserlis, Siegfried Palm, Young-Chang Cho and Pieter Wispelwey, as well as by participating in master classes given by Heinrich Schiff, Jiří Bárta, Gustav Rivinius and Truls Mørk.
Tomáš plays a violoncello made by Lorenzo Storioni in 1784, which was generously lent to him from the private collection of Mr. Aleš Voverka.
Following recent debuts with the Chicago, Pittsburgh and London symphony orchestras, Lukáš Vondráček has a season packed with highlights ahead of him. In 2021/22 he will debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at Hollywood Bowl and return to renowned orchestras such as Baltimore and Chicago symphony orchestras, both under the baton of Marin Alsop. Elsewhere Lukáš Vondráček will appear with Orchestre National de Lille conducted by Lionel Bringuier, Warsaw Philharmonic as well as the Turku and Malmö symphony orchestras. Recital projects will take him to the Rudolf Firkusny Piano Festival at Prague’s Rudolfinum and the Kissinger Summer Festival. He will take his residency with the Janáček Philharmonic into the next season and continue his recording cycle of all Rachmaninov Piano concertos with Prague Symphony Orchestra.
Over the last decade Lukáš Vondráček has travelled the world working with orchestras such as the Philadelphia, Tasmanian and Sydney Symphony orchestras, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Symphony Radio Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic and Netherlands Philharmonic orchestras under conductors such as Paavo Järvi, Gianandrea Noseda, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Marin Alsop, Christoph Eschenbach, Pietari Inkinen, Vasily Petrenko, Jakub Hrůša, Anu Tali, Xian Zhang, Krzysztof Urbański, Stéphane Denève and Elim Chan, among many others. Recitals have led him to Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, the Flagey in Brussels, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Wiener Konzerthaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and to renowned festivals such as Menuhin Festival Gstaad, PianoEspoo in Finland, Prague Spring Festival and Lille Piano Festival.
At the age of four Lukáš Vondráček made his first public appearance. As a fifteen-year-old in 2002 he made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy which was followed by a major US tour in 2003. His natural and assured musicality and remarkable technique have long marked him out as a gifted and mature musician. He has achieved worldwide recognition by receiving many international awards, foremost the Grand Prix at the 2016 Concours Reine Elisabeth in Brussels alongside first prizes at the Hilton Head and San Marino International Piano Competitions and Unisa International Piano Competition in Pretoria, South Africa, as well as the Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award at the 2009 International Van Cliburn Piano Competition.
After finishing his studies at the Academy of Music in Katowice and the Vienna Conservatoire, Lukáš Vondráček obtained an Artist Diploma from Boston's New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Hung-Kuan Chen, graduating with honours in 2012.
Source: Harrison Parrott
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.