Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, WAB 109
The Tonhalle-Orchester is based in a concert hall that Johannes Brahms consecrated in person. With this top Swiss ensemble, it is as if this friend of Antonín Dvořák has come to Prague to meet with his Czech colleague after many years. He certainly would have rejoiced over a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor — Brahms had enormous respect for his Viennese predecessor. On the other hand, he might have been surprised by the inclusion of Symphony No. 9 in D Minor by Bruckner, a composer who had difficulty gaining recognition in his own day. Today, Beethoven and Bruckner are rightly numbered among history’s greatest symphonic composers. Hearing their music together on the same programme promises to be something special, especially when interpreted by the Tonhalle-Orchester with its current chief conductor, Paavo Järvi, shaping the orchestra’s finely polished sound. Joining this American of Estonian origin is pianist Ivo Kahánek, who can be unofficially declared to be among the court artists of the Dvořák Prague Festival. Although Beethoven and Bruckner wrote their compositions in minor keys, both works arrive at positive major-key climaxes at their conclusions.
Classical music from Messiaen to Mozart: that is the passion of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – and has been since 1868. When it plays with Paavo Järvi, a special energy is generated, because each concert is unlike all others. The orchestra loves the diverse stimuli it receives from its guest conductors and enjoys being challenged by internationally acclaimed soloists. Along with its audience, the orchestra maintains a lively curiosity for unknown masterpieces and newly commissioned works. Founded by musicians from Zurich, it proclaims its musical home in its name and carries its excellent reputation around the world by means of tours and recordings.
In the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, some 100 musicians play approximately fifty different programmes in over 100 concerts per season. The orchestra brings together musicians from some twenty nations. Guest appearances have taken it to 100 cities in more than thirty countries. In addition to the orchestral projects, the musicians also create their own chamber music series. Music Director Paavo Järvi is the eleventh principal conductor of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; David Zinman is its conductor emeritus.
The orchestra has released more than forty recordings on CD, including complete cycles of the symphonies by Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms and Schubert. Its first recording with Paavo Järvi was devoted to orchestral works by Olivier Messiaen and was awarded the Diapason d’Or in 2019. This was followed by recordings of all of Tchaikovsky's symphonies and other orchestral works; the first release with the Fifth symphony was awarded the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2020 and the Diapason d’Or 2021.
This year, a close artistic partnership with John Adams has resulted in a major recording of his orchestral works. The Zürich Tonhalle orchestra together with Paavo Järvi were recently awarded the 2022 European Cultural Prize.
After four seasons in the Tonhalle Maag in west Zürich, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich has once again been performing in its traditional home by the lake since the start of the 2021/22 season in the substantially renovated Tonhalle, whose main concert hall, the 'Grosse Tonhalle', has won international fame for its superb acoustics.
Estonian-born Grammy-Award winner Paavo Järvi is regarded as one of today’s most important conductors, working in close partnership with the greatest international orchestras. He is the Music Director of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, has been the Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen since 2004, and is the founder and Artistic Director of the Estonian Festival Orchestra. Since the start of the 2022-23 concert season, he has also been appointed Honorary Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
For his fourth season with the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, he is continuing the Bruckner cycle while also completing his Mendelssohn cycle, together with their corresponding CD recordings. Other recordings include a live semi-staged production of Beethoven’s Fidelio, as well as a new recorded edition of orchestral works by John Adams to celebrate the composer’s 75th birthday.
He rounds off each season with a week of concerts and masterclasses at the Pärnu Music Festival in Estonia, a festival that he and his father, Neeme Järvi, jointly founded in 2011. The success of the festival and its resident ensemble – the Estonian Festival Orchestra – has led to a number of highly prestigious invitations to conduct at the Berliner Philharmonie, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the BBC Proms and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
Paavo Järvi is also much in demand as a guest conductor, maintaining close links worldwide with the orchestras he has previously led. Further prizes and accolades include a Grammy Award in 2003 for cantatas by Sibelius; the 2015 ‘Artist of the Year’ awarded by Gramophone Magazine (UK) and Diapason (France), as well as the Sibelius Medal; in 2019,he won ‘Conductor of the Year’ (Opus-Klassik) and the Rheingau Music Prize; and most recently, he was claimed the 2022 European Cultural Prize.
As a performer of unusual emotional power and depth, Ivo Kahánek has earned a reputation as one of the most impressive artists of his generation. He takes ample advantage of his talent to establish instant emotional ties with the public in works ranging from the Baroque to the modern eras, with the Romantic era representing the bulk of his repertoire. Abroad, he is also regarded as a specialist in the interpretation of Czech music.
In 2004, he was the overall winner of the Prague Spring International Music Competition, and before that he had already won many important competition prizes at both home and abroad (the Maria Canals Piano Competition in Barcelona, the Vendome Prize in Vienna, the Stiftung Tomassoni Wettbewerb in Cologne, the Fryderyk Chopin International Competition in Mariánské Lázně, Concertino Praga etc.).
Following successful debuts at the Beethovenfest in Bonn and at the Prague Spring Festival, he received an invitation from the BBC Symphony Orchestra to appear at London’s BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall, where in August 2007 he played Bohuslav Martinů’s Fourth Piano Concerto (“Incantation”) under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek, which was broadcast live by BBC television and radio and by Czech Radio Vltava. That critically acclaimed debut is available from the German label Deutsche Grammophon as a digital download. It is no wonder that Sir Simon Rattle chose Ivo Kahánek for two appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic in November 2014, which were enthusiastically received by music critics and the general public. The young pianist became just the second Czech pianist (after Rudolf Firkušný) to appear with that world-famous orchestra in its history. Ivo Kahánek also performs regularly with the Czech Philharmonic, and he has made successful appearances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow, the Essener Philharmoniker, the WDR Orchestra in Cologne, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonia, the Brno Philharmonic, and many other orchestras. Just a few of the other artists with whom he has collaborated include conductors Semyon Bychkov, John Eliot Gardiner, Jakub Hrůša, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Rafael Payare, Pinchas Steinberg, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Tomáš Netopil, Andrey Boreyko, Libor Pešek, and Zdeněk Mácal, violinist Daniel Hope, cellist Alissu Weilerstein, violist Paul Neubauer, the Pavel Haas Quartet, the Tetzlaff Quartet, soprano Martina Janková, and tenor Pavel Černoch. In 2018, he won the Classic Prague Award for solo performance of the year.
In 2007, Ivo Kahánek signed an exclusive contract with the label Supraphon Music, and since then he has recorded 15 CDs of music by such composers as Frédéric Chopin, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů, Gideon Klein, Miloslav Kabeláč, Jean Francaix, and Jacques Ibert. For his recording of piano concertos by Antonín Dvořák and Bohuslav Martinů accompanied by the Bamberg Symphony under the baton of Jakub Hrůša, he earned the prestigious BBC Music Magazine Award. That CD also won other important honours: recording of the month of the BBC Music Magazine, Choix de Classique HD, recording of the week on BBC Radio 3, an Angel Award in the Classical category, and a nomination from the International Classical Music Awards. For his album of songs by Bohuslav Martinů with Martina Janková and Tomáš Král, Ivo Kahánek also won a coveted Diapason d’Or from the French music journal Diapason and was named the choice of the month by the journals Opernwelt and Opera News. His latest important recording is the complete piano works of Antonín Dvořák on 4 CDs, which also received an International Classical Music Awards nomination in late 2021, earned the highest rating in the journals Gramophone and Diapason, and like his previous CD, won an Angel Award in the Classical category. He also makes recordings for Czech Radio, Czech Television, and the television station Mezzo.
Ivo Kahánek is a graduate of the Janáček Conservatoire in Ostrava and of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He also made a study visit to London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has taken part in masterclasses led by Karl-Heinze Kämmerling, Christian Zacharias, Alicia de Larrocha, Imogen Cooper, Peter Frankl, and other instructors. At present he is teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and is leading piano masterclasses at the Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž and at the Prague Conservatoire Piano Courses.
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.