CITYLIFE / Weekend & Holiday
The season for symphony
By Michelle Qiao (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-22 11:56
After a long hot summer,almost without symphonies, the curtain rises in September on an orchestra from the Czech Republic and one from Spain to begin a season of autumn concerts.
The city has been quiet for symphony orchestras for almost the whole hot summer. Now two European orchestras, the Prague Sinfonia from the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria from Spain are coming with the cooler autumn breezes early next month.
"Czech orchestras always play in a unique style like chamber music," says local music critic Li Yanhuan. "They usually don't have a large scale or the compelling style like big orchestras. But their playing is incredibly delicate, refined and decorous, just like the timbre of many chamber orchestras. And the Czech orchestra musicians have also impressed me by their harmonious cooperation."
The Prague Sinfonia will play Mozart's "Overture Don Giovanni," Mendelssohn's violin concert, Haydn's cellos concerto and Beethoven's "Symphony No. 7."
The sinfonia was born as an expanded version of the Prague Chamber Orchestra during their 16th tour in North America, after having collaborated for more than 10 years with Christian Benda, chief conductor and artistic director of the Prague Sinfonia.
The active orchestra has appeared frequently in the world's top music festivals such as the Salzburg Festival in Vienna. The Czech audience can hear them in their concert series held in the large hall of the Rudolfinum (Dvorak Hall) and as a regular guest at the two major Czech music festivals, the Prague Spring and the Prague Autumn.
It is interesting that conductor/cellist/composer Benda is a descendant of the Czech Benda composer dynasty of the 18th century and a member of the longest family of musicians in music history. He received his professional training within his family where the musical tradition was maintained without interruption through three centuries.
A passionate lover of vocal repertoire, Benda conducts vocalists such as Barbara Hendricks, Cheryl Studer, Simon Estes and Renee Fleming. He has been invited to conduct the commemoration concerts for President Vaclav Havel with Renee Fleming and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
While the music from Prague is still in the air, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Gran Canaria from Spain will present Joaquin Rodrigo's "La Vida Breve," Bizet's "Carmen Suite," Sarasate's "Aires Bohemios" and "Zapateado" as well as Manuel de Falls' "The Three Cornered Hat" for the Shanghai concert, highlighted by mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera and violinist Alexander Da Costa.
The Czech and Spanish concerts will begin a season of excellent autumn concerts in the city including the Vienna State Opera, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Prague Sinfonia
Date: September 16, 7:30pm