Ludwig van Beethoven: String Trio in C minor, Op. 9, No. 3
Ernst von Dohnányi: Serenade for String Trio in C major, Op. 10
Antonín Dvořák: Piano Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 23, B. 53
Antonín Dvořák composed his First Piano Quartet with Mozartian briskness in just eighteen days, but this is definitely not a trivial work. In it, at age thirty-three, Dvořák demonstrated that he was becoming an original, extraordinary composer. This year, Dvořák’s piano quartets are an important contribution to the series Dvořák Collection, one of the festival’s long-term projects. The central figure in these performances is the pianist Lukáš Vondráček, who has invited the violinist Josef Špaček, the violist Pavel Nikl, and the cellist Tomáš Jamník not only to join him in playing Dvořák’s piano quartets, but also to present themselves in their first joint performance at the festival as a string trio. They will be commemorating this year’s major Ludwig van Beethoven anniversary with a performance of his String Trio in C Minor along with the Serenade for String Trio in C Major by Ernst von Dohnányi. In comparison with the classicist Beethoven, in his Serenade Dohnányi gives us the impression that Dvořák was discreetly making suggestions to the composer.
The violinist Josef Špaček is one of the most prominent performers of his generation. He began his violin studies at the Prague Conservatoire, and at age 18 he was admitted to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. From 2009 he continued his studies at the Juilliard School in New York in the studio of Itzhak Perlman. Since 2011 he has held the post of concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic. He has appeared as a soloist in many important concert halls of Europe, the USA, Japan, and New Zealand, and he has collaborated with a number of illustrious conductors (Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Jiří Bělohlávek). He has appeared as a soloist with top orchestras around the world, including the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Konzerthausorchester in Berlin, and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. He has won a number of international awards, including the title of laureate at the famed Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 2012. He has also made a highly esteemed recording of works for violin and orchestra by Dvořák, Janáček, and Suk on the Supraphon label. The violin he plays is the “LeBrun, Bouthillard” Guarneri del Gesù (1732).
Violist Pavel Nikl graduated from the P. J. Vejvanovský Conservatory in Kroměříž and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He is a laureate of several international competitions, including the Johannes Brahms International Competition in Portschach, Austria. He has appeared as a soloist with the South Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, the North Czech Philharmonic in Teplice, and elsewhere. The bulk of his activity, however, involves the performing of chamber music. He is one of the founders of the Pavel Haas Quartet, of which he was a member until 2016. The ensemble earned extraordinary recognition internationally for its concerts and recordings. Immediately upon winning the Prague Spring International Competition and the Premio Paolo Borciani in 2005, the Pavel Haas Quartet established itself as one of today's most important chamber ensembles. He has appeared in the world's most illustrious concert halls including the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Tonhalle in Zurich, the Herkulessaal in Munich, London's Wigmore Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall, and many more. Pavel Nikl is also an active pedagogue, teaching at universities in Europe, the USA, and Australia.
Tomáš Jamník is one of the most prominent cellists on the Czech performance scene. He has been devoting himself to cello playing since the age of five, and after graduating from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under the tutelage of Prof. Josef Chuchro, he furthered his education in Leipzig and Berlin. At the age of twenty-one, he won the 2006 Prague Spring International Competition, where he also received several special prizes. In 2010 he won a competition that earned him a place at the renowned Karajan Academy in Berlin, at which he appeared as a member of the Berlin Philharmonic and of various chamber music groups of philharmonic players. Since 2011 he has been collaborating with such top musicians as Simon Rattle, Reinhard Goebel, and Leif Ove Andsnes. Together with the violinist Jan Fišer and the pianist Ivo Kahánek, he is a founding member of the Dvořák Trio. For the Supraphon label, he has recorded the complete works of Antonín Dvořák for cello and orchestra including the virtually unknown Concerto in A Major in a special arrangement based on an orchestration by Jarmil Burghauser. He performed it at the 2019 Dvořák Prague Festival.
Lukáš Vondráček, who turns 34 this year, is known internationally as one of today’s most distinctive Czech performers. He is followed by his reputation as a prodigy: he began playing piano at age two, and a year later he gave his first public performance. At age eleven he issued his first CD, and two years after that he gave his first concert tour of the USA. At thirteen he began his university studies, and at fifteen he made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy. A highpoint of his artistic career so far was his triumph at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 2016, where he became the first Czech winner in history. He has appeared in solo recitals at a number of famed concert halls including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Elbephilharmonie in Hamburg, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. His appearances in the Czech Republic include this past January at the Municipal House in Prague with the Piano Concerto in F Minor by Frédéric Chopin. He is a long-time resident of Boston.
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.