You don’t really need much of an excuse to go to Prague in springtime. The loveliness of the parks, the variegated architecture of the squares, the calm of the mighty Vltava river, the congenial atmosphere and quality of food and wine (and beer!) should be enough to tempt anyone. But just in case, the 2017 Prague Spring Festival throws in an aural banquet to tempt the palate of any classical music lover.
Prague is very close to the exact central point of Europe, and there are also plenty of concerts with Czech musicians performing music from elsewhere around the continent. The Czech Philharmonic performs Strauss, Pärt and Rachmaninov’s Fourth Piano Concerto, with pianist Lukáš Vondrácek; the same orchestra performs Shostakovich’s “Babi Yar” Symphony, with Jiří Bělohlávek at the helm. On May 24th, the Brno Philharmonic performs Holst’s The Planets coupled with Schnittke’s Faust Cantata, with a strong set of Czech singers. The Prague Symphony Orchestra tackles Carl Nielsen’s Symphony “The Inextinguishable”; they also perform Prokofiev’s Symphony no. 7, as well as Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and H K Gruber’s recent 3 MOB Pieces.
A preview like this can’t list every concert – you’ll have to see the full listings for that – but I’ll close by giving you a feel for the varied span of the festival in both scope and time. In scope, you can go from huge scale symphonic and choral works down to solo piano, passing by madrigalsto and flamenco to “tonadillas”, Spanish small scale works of the mid 18th century mainly devised for theatre interval performances.
In time: you can go back to the earliest classical music with the Theorbo / Baroque Guitar / Harpsichord combination of Concerto Zapico, or forward to the electronics-infused Musico-Technical Inventions concert on May 29th at the National Technical Museum or Anna Meredith’s Concerto for beatboxer and orchestra. Or you can span the ages with Collegium 1704 and the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, playing harpsichord concertos by Bach and Martinů in the same concert, under the auspices of the Prague Spring International Music Competition. And you can't get much wider than that.
Article sponsored by Pražské jaro.