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Czech Philharmonic ⬩ Sakari Oramo
The Biblical Songs are not only a reminiscence of the Czech Philharmonic’s first concert in 1896 under the baton of Antonín Dvořák, but also a recollection of the late chief conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. The Biblical Songs were the last orchestral recording that Jiří Bělohlávek made with the Czech Philharmonic.
Biblical Songs, Op. 99
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43 (43')
Jan Martiník bass
Sakari Oramo conductor
The Biblical Songs are not only a reminiscence of the Czech Philharmonic’s first concert in 1896 under the baton of Antonín Dvořák, but also a recollection of the late chief conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. The Biblical Songs were the last orchestral recording that Jiří Bělohlávek made with the Czech Philharmonic. The soloist then was also Jan Martiník and the choice of the conductor for this programme is no coincidence. Sakari Oramo succeeded Jiří Bělohlávek at helm of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and it was at Bělohlávek’s invitation that he came to conduct the Czech Philharmonic for the first time in January 2017. This subscription concert of music by Antonín Dvořák and Jean Sibelius is the result of the mutual affection between the conductor and the players.
Dvořák composed his Biblical Songs in just three weeks in March of 1894, only three months after the première of the New World Symphony. The impulse for their composing was no external commission, but merely the composer’s inner urge to set to music the intimately familiar texts from his own copy of a very old Czech translation of the Bible.
For Finnish culture, Sibelius’s Second Symphony has the same meaning as Dvořák’s New World Symphony has for Czechs. It is the composer’s best-known and most frequently played symphony and at the time when it was written, it expressed Finnish opposition to Russian occupation. After the first performance of the Second Symphony, Sibelius instantly became a national hero and the work got a similarly warm reception around the world. According to conductor Osmo Vänskä, the Second Symphony is “associated with our nation’s fight for independence, but it also personifies struggle, crisis, and a turn for the better in the life of an individual. That’s why it is so moving”.
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
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