PRESS RELEASE Brno, Czech Republic, January 2021
Music which you can’t just buy anywhere. This would be an apt summary of the new series of recordings which Filharmonie Brno has begun issuing under its own label. “The first to come out is Antonín Reicha’s oratorio Lenore,” says Filharmonie Brno director, Marie Kučerová. The series will continue issuing unique recordings in future.
New album was recorded by orchestra led by Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies in 2020 in Besední dům, which is residency od Filharmonie Brno. “I consider it a significant act, because the piece by Antonín Reicha we play is generally almost unknown, even amongst musicians in the Czech Republic,” says Davies.
The composer never heard his dramatic oratorio Lenore during his life, with attempts at its performance befallen by a number of unfortunate circumstances and coincidences. First of all, the ban by the censor in Vienna, which could not even by overturned by Reicha’s friend, Ludwig van Beethoven. Then on the eve of its premiere in Leipzig, the city was occupied by Napoleon’s troops. “The subject of the oratorio is Gottfried August Bürger’s ballad of the same name. Fragmented sentences, poetic cries, the voices of military songs, the chorus of repeated words… The words are ripe for converting to music. And it is very possible that Reicha’s open-minded nature attracted him to the controversy the poem gave rise to, a poem which the Lutherans said made mockery of religion and abused scripture and biblical teachings,” says Filharmonie Brno Programme Director, Vítězslav Mikeš, who is convinced that Lenore has a great future ahead of it on stages around the world.
The recording was processed by chief sound engineer Jaroslav Zouhar, also a Filharmonie Brno trombonist. “We recorded Lenore at the dress rehearsal and also at live concerts. The result, then, is a mix of four different recordings. In addition, we also recorded certain solo passages in an empty hall, so the echo and other details had to be carefully balanced out so that the singing sounded as if it was performed in a full concert hall. It was fascinating work,” says Zouhar.
The recording included on double CD is the result of three concert performances that took place in the Besední dům in Brno on February 5, 6 and 7, 2020, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Reicha’s birth. The performances at-tracted an unprecedented level of media atten-tion: the first concert was recorded by Czech Television, and the final one was broadcast live by Czech Radio Vltava and Hessische Rundfunk (as part of the prestigious Euroradio Premium Concerts series), the broadcast recording was then shared with radio stations in Austria (ORF), Germany (Deutschlandfunk Kultur), Croatia, Sweden, Latvia and Denmark.
Dennis Russell Davies (1944), a graduate of New York’s renowned Juilliard School, began his conducting career as Music Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota (1972–1980), and from 1977–2002 was also Chief Conductor of the American Composers Orchestra in New York, as well as, from 1991–1996, Principal Conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Since 1980, he has resided primarily in Europe. Davies has been General Music Director of the Staats-oper Stuttgart (1980–1987), Chief Conductor of the Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Music Director of the Bonn Opera and Artistic Director of the Bonn Beethoven Festival (1987–1995). Subsequently, in Austria, he was professor of orchestral conducting at the University Mozarteum Salzburg and Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orches-tra; in 2002, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Bruckner Orchester Linz and the Landes-theater Linz, a 15-year tenure which saw the inauguration, in 2013, of the new Linz Opera House. During 2009–2016, he also held the post of Chief Conductor of the Sinfonieorchester Basel. Guest engagements have included appearances with major orchestras and at prestigious opera houses throughout the United States, Japan and Europe. Since the 2018/2019 season, he has been at the helm of the Filharmonie Brno as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director; as of fall 2020, he has also assumed the position of Chief Conductor of the MDR Symphony Orchestra Leipzig. Davies is known not only for his extraordinary breadth of repertoire, but also for his ongoing collaborations and close working relationships with prominent composers, past and present, including Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, John Cage, Manfred Trojahn, Philip Glass, Heinz Winbeck, Laurie Anderson, Philippe Manoury, Aaron Copland, Hans Werner Henze, Michael Nyman and Kurt Schwertsik. As conductor and pia-nist (or both simultaneously), Davies has released over 80 widely acclaimed recordings. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; in 2014, the French Ministry of Culture named him Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres; and in 2017 he was awarded the Austrian Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst, First Class. More at www.dennisrusselldavies.com
The current Filharmonie Brno was formed in 1956, with the merging of the Brno-based radio and regional orchestras, and since then has be-longed among the elite of Czech orchestras, both in terms of size and significance. Throughout its history, the orchestra has been led by such eminent Czech and international conductors as Břetislav Bakala, František Jílek, Petr Altrichter, Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Charles Mackerras, Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil. Since the 2018/2019 season, the Filharmonie Brno’s Chief Conductor and Artistic Director has been Dennis Russell Davies. The orchestra regularly records for Czech Radio and Czech Television, as well as for various recording labels (Supraphon, Sony Music, IMG Records, BMG, Channel 4).
Today the Filharmonie Brno is recognized not only as a major presence in the field of symphonic music at home and abroad, but also as the primary organizer of musical life in the second largest Czech city; an active promoter of festivals; and a creative leader in orchestral programming. It cur-rently performs in the neo-Renaissance Besední dům, “Brno’s Musikverein” designed by Theophil Hansen in 1873, and looks forward to a new state-of-the-art concert hall, being designed by the architect team of Tomasz Konior and Petr Hrůša, and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota. More at www.filharmonie-brno.cz/en
Media contact Kateřina Konečná, Head of PR and Marketing, Filharmonie Brno
+420 775 426 040 firstname.lastname@example.org