The seventh concert in the Orchestral Series (A) of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia Orchestra not only offers another Czech debut, but also the “king of coloratura”, the British tenor Jeremy Ovenden. Jeremy Ovenden has worked with many of the greats such as Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Muti and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. A pupil of the legendary Nicolai Gedda and a tenor of “outstanding virtuosity” (The Independent), he will be singing Benjamin Britten’s final orchestral song cycle conducted by another Brit, Rory Macdonald. The composer dedicated his Nocturne to one of the most famous femme fatales of the early 20th century, Alma Mahler.
The audience can then expect a real musical treat in the second half of the concert. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Third Symphony – Eroica – was recently selected as the best symphony of all time by the BBC Music Magazine, based on a survey of 150 conductors. You will be able to hear it on Sunday 25 February in a top-class interpretation by an orchestra which couldn’t be more at home with this repertoire. On Sunday 25 February from 7.30pm in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudofinum.
Czech Debut of Rory Macdonald
Despite his youth, he has guest conducted the BBC, the Royal Philharmonic in London, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London, Netherlands and Bergen Philharmonics, Filharmonie Oslo, BBC Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hallé Orchestra, and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse. Rory Macdonald has collaborated with the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Sydney Opera House, San Francisco Opera, ENO, Lyric Opera in Chicago etc. studied music at Cambridge University and also graduated from the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen led by David Zinman and Jorma Panula. After graduating he was for two years Assistant to Iván Fischer at Budapest Festival Orchestra (2001–2003) and Sir Mark Elder in the Hallé Orchestra (2006–2008). He was also part of the Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London (2004–2006), where he collaborated closely with Antonio Pappano, including the staging of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The PKF – Prague Philharmonia concert is his Czech debut.
Benjamin Britten – A Genius of 20th Century Music
The Nocturne op. 60 from 1958 is one of four song cycles Britten wrote with a very specific knowledge of the potential and colour of Peter Pears’s voice, his artistic and intimate friend. Yet the dedication is to Alma Mahler, the one-time wife of Gustav Mahler, whom Britten revered as one of his models. The accompaniment is limited to strings and seven obliggato instruments (flute, cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon, harp, French horn and timpani). The various texts – a very sophisticated choice – are compiled into a unified whole on the theme of sleep and darkness, both in the literal and figurative sense. The Nocturne shows Britten as a sensitive musician and creator of a beautiful coupling of text and music. A composer of British classics, Britten is today seen as a musician who synthesized the traditional and the modern; a moderate innovator, an outstanding melodicist and an artist of extraordinary sound inventiveness, covering grand themes and pursuing his conviction that art has to be beneficial.
"All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me."
Benjamin Britten: Nocturne
Lyrics: William Shakespeare: Sonet XLIII