BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Bohemian Rhapsodies
Long before Freddie Mercury ever came along, Bohemian rhapsodies were flowing from the pens of composers in the part of world from where the name originates. Strictly speaking, not necessarily rhapsodic in form, it is the symphonies, concertos, orchestral pieces and chamber music from what is now the Czech Republic that the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC Radio 3 present as a celebration of musical things Bohemian over November and early December.
‘It is the 50th anniversary of the death of the Bohemian Czech composer Martinu,’ says BBC Senior Producer Simon Lord, ‘and as the BBC Symphony Orchestra are playing his symphonies at London’s Barbican, we thought that it would be a good idea to complement that series with performances of all five of Martinu’s piano concertos. As far as we know, it is the first time that the full cycle of the concertos has been done in the UK.’ 2009 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, so Czech music by Dvorák and Janácek makes for neat completion to the programming.
The Martinu concertos are rarely heard, but, says Lord, ‘His music is fantastic. It’s just not in the repertory, but should be. It is fascinating music. The early pieces have some jazz influences, and the concertos make for quite a journey.’ In the third one, for instance, the feelings of alienation and homesickness experienced through exile to the US are present in its dark overtones. In the first concert of the series, it is heard alongside the rather more famous Czech piece composed in America, Dvorák’s symphony ‘From the New World.’
Artists appearing include Czech pianist Ivo Kahanek, both with the orchestra and in solo recital, conductor Stevan Solyom, who has a special affinity with Dvorák, and Prague Symphony Orchestra conductor Petr Altrichter.
City Halls, Glasgow, Thu 12, Thu 19, Mon 23, Thu 26 Nov & Thu 3 Dec