BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – Bohemian Rhapsodies

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

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Bohemian Rhapsodies 1

The first instalment in a complete cycle of Bohuslav Martinu's piano concertos - Ivo Kahánek performing the powerful third - with works by his compatriot, Dvorák: the jubilant 'Carnival Overture', and the famous 'Symphony No 9 ('From the New World')'. Stefan Solyom conducts. (Please note earlier start time.)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Bohemian Rhapsodies 2

Visiting Czech conductor Petr Altrichter brings with him Dvorák's sunny, folky 'Symphony No 8' and Janacek's 'ballad' for orchestra, 'The Fiddler's Child', while international acclaimed pianist Piers Lane continues the cycle of Martinu piano concertos with the jazzy 'Piano Concerto No 1'

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Bohemian Rhapsodies 3

Stefan Solyom conducts a programme steeped in Czech tradition and folklore, with Dvorák's great 'Symphony No 7' and symphonic poem 'The Golden Spinning Wheel', which depicts a dark and very gory fairytale. Pianist Ivo Kahanek continues the cycle of Martinu piano concertos with the fifth ('Fantasia').

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra: Bohemian Rhapsodies 4

Brilliant American pianist Garrick Ohlsson joins conductor Ilan Volkov and the orchestra for the last in the 'Bohemian Rhapsodies' series. Martinu's 'Piano Concerto No 4 ('Incantations')' is given a rare performance, along with Dvorak's richly melodic 'Legends'. Janacek's bold, brassy 'Sinfonietta' provides a climactic…

The Bohemians: Ivo Kahanek in Recital

After winning the Prague Spring International Music Competition in 2004, the Czech pianist's career is going from strength to strength. As part of Glasgow Concert Halls' International Season he performs sonatas by Janácek, Klein, Mozart and Martinu, followed by Schumann's virtuosic 'Symphonic Études'.

The Bohemians: Miklós Perényi and Balász Szokolay

Both internationally acclaimed prize-winning musicians, cellist Perényi and pianist Szokolay - both Hungarian - perform a selection of warmly folky Bohemian works. A vivacious opening with Dvorák's 'Polonaise in A major' is followed by, among other works, Janácek's lyrical 'Pohádka' and Martinu's 'Variations on a Theme of…

The Bohemians: Thomas Zehetmair and Ruth Killius

Glasgow Concert Halls' International Concert Series continues its Bohemian theme with two outstanding musicians, violinist Zehetmair and violist Killius in a performance of works including 'Drei Skizzen' by contemporary composer Heinz Holliger, Martinu's 'Madrigale' and a selection of duos by Mozart and Skalkottas.

The Bohemians: Pavel Haas Quartet

Since its inception in 2002 this dynamic young quartet has won a spate of awards, including the BBC Music Magazine award for Newcomer of the Year in 2007. 'String Quartet No 2 ('From the Monkey Mountains')' by the ensemble's namesake - who tragically died in Auschwitz at just 45 - is followed by quartets by Janácek and…

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