‘At Home’ with PKF’s Worldwide Chamber Series

Belfiato Quintet

The Belfiato Quintet, with guest Jindřich Pavlíš on bass clarinet, perform Czech compositions for the PKF-Prague Philharmonia chamber series.

Martina Cechová, musicologist for the PKF – Prague Philharmonia, invites listeners to learn a few tidbits and to hear composers’ works in a close-to-home atmosphere.

An audience small enough to be classified “intimate” yet large enough to comfortably fill the space at the Czech Museum of Music gathers on a chilly December evening.

The concert tonight is “From Bohemian Fields and Groves-The Czech Tradition of the Wind Quintet” and features music from four distinct eras, by Antonín Rejcha (1770-1836), JB Foerster (1859-1951), Leoš Janáček (1854-1928), and Eduard Douša (1951).

The Belfiato Quintet, Oto Reiprich, flute; Jan Souček, oboe; Kateřina Javůrková, French horn, Václav Fűrbach, bassoon; and Jiří Javůrek, clarinet, met while students at The Prague Conservatory and The Academy of Music. Since then they’ve gone on to win international competitions (Prague Spring, Yamaha Foundation, Rejcha competition in Payerbach, etc), and they perform for Czech Television and Czech Radio, and are soloists or members of orchestras, including the series’ sponsor, The PKF – Prague Philharmonia.

This evening’s program, the third installment in the 10-concert “Musical Journeys to the Ends of the Earth” chamber series, is warmly introduced in non-technical language, in Czech, by Martina Cechová. Before each piece she shares some interesting facts about the composer or the music, filling in the brief biographical information supplied in the paper program.

“Due to the fact that I studied musicology, I love this job and I am very happy to prepare my speech for each concert,” she tells Opus Osm. It helps create a homey atmosphere and takes some of the mystery out of musicology.

For example, about Antonín Rejcha’s Wind Quintet No 2 in E Flat Major, Opus 88 she tells the attentive audience that it was conducted in 1818 in Paris with great acclaim, significantly contributing to Rejcha’s appointment as a professor at the Paris Conservatoire that year. She adds, “I must mention that Rejcha is the author of many theoretical writings and composition textbooks still used today in Europe’s leading music schools. Even we here in Prague have learned musicology directly from Rejcha’s textbook.”

Listen to a short excerpt of The Belfiato Quintet playing Rejcha’s Wind Quintet No 2 in this video clip.


The Little Hilarious Quintet

But when the program comes to Eduard Douša’s Quintettino Giocoso, composed for the Belfiato Quintet in 2012, Martina Cechová admits that she knows “absolutely nothing” about the piece or its composer. (And that undoubtedly helps pique the audience’s curiosity.) After all, each evening aims to highlight important, and in some cases, also considerably neglected, composers from various corners of the world.

Martina Cechová

Martina Cechová

So she turns for help to Belfiato’s oboist, Jan Souček. The young musician steps forward to explain, “Giocoso Quintettino means little hilarious quintet … We [know] Eduard Douša well from the Conservatory, where we were taught harmony.” The musicians asked him for “some short … fun … inexpensive,” he emphasizes, and the audience chuckles, “humorous work. The composition consists of three movements and Professor Douša wrote it in a light French spirit. He has a style like this, especially for wind instruments.” Mr Souček adds that Professor Douša has composed various fanfares for Conservatory graduation balls. “It’s like a love song dedicated to his students, and we want to thank him very much for this composition.”

Listen to The Belfiato Quintet perform Eduard Douša’s Quintettino Giocoso in this short excerpt from the movement titled Blues.

The concert also included special guest Jindřich Pavliš, who played bass clarinet on Janáček’s Youth (Mládí) wind sextet. — oo

The next concert in this series is set for Mar 2, on French and German Baroque masters, followed by further installments each spotlighting the chamber music of France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, or Latin America.

– Mary Matz, Opus Osm editor

Photo Credits: Photos and videos: Miroslav Setnička

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