Passionate Thrill/Icy Chill: Srnka, Maisky, & Hrůša
The audience leaps to its feet after hearing Latvian-born Israeli cellist Mischa Maisky perform Dvořák with the PKF – Prague Philharmonia.
The energetic baton of the PKF’s long-valued conductor Jakub Hrůša starts up this Jan 18 evening with the metaphysical drama Manfred, Opus 115, which Schumann finished just two years before his suicide attempt in 1854.
Byron’s drama about a noble tortured by mysterious guilt had touched the composer deeply already during his studies in 1817.
Next comes No Night No Land No Sky for chamber orchestra, by Czech composer Miroslav Srnka (b 1975), premiered last year in Köln. The musicians from Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen inspired Srnka to make certain changes which we could experience during this Czech premiere, and the young composer describes the revised composition as “a meteorological piece.”
Vibrating chilly strings supported by deep sounds of brass transfer the audience into merciful polar lands full of unexpected tense and endless discomfort. Harrowing howling and shivering plunking of violins, perpetual vibrations of cellos, painful whistling of flutes, silent whiffling of brass, rising nightmarish slides in detail depict the irritating creepy feeling of being left in the middle of nowhere in between the lights, colours, sounds, and energy of a cold, uninhabited land.
Despite the chilly mood of the piece, at the conclusion the conductor turns to the audience with drops of sweat on his forehead, and calls the author out on stage. Mr Srnka thanks and applauds the entire ensemble and especially the cello, bass, and flute players. It was definitely tough to overplay this and it would be intriguing to see how certain sounds are scribbled in the score.
Two Cello Masters
After such a disturbing, gripping piece, it’s no wonder that the PKF invited Mischa Maisky, a passionate cello virtuoso, to perform his favourite Dvořák piece, Cello Concerto in B Minor. Dvořák started to write it in New York before his departure back to the Czech lands, but finished this nostalgic memory of America later back at home. It was very successfully received, even though Dvořák used to claim that the cello is not a suitable instrument for solos.
The audience wildly welcomes Mischa Maisky on stage. The sparkling, silver-haired, charismatic cellist takes a seat on a wide chair and with the first sounds of the concerto he closes his eyes and starts passionately moving into the pulsating and thrilling melody before playing a note.
After a few minutes he joins the orchestra with his typical energetic and desirous passion; for a moment he buries himself in tender melancholic tones that burst out again so that his spirit for a moment almost shoots the bow from his hand; but luckily he catches it with his left hand and without hesitating continues. With strong emotions he finishes his part.
The excited admirers stand up and call him and the conductor back on stage several times until he sits back on his chair again and tosses us Dvořák’s Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra to feed us with something extra.
The endless ovation and tapping of bows slowly calms down and we leave into silent chilly Sunday evening. “In music, the brain does not have the main role, it is the ears and the heart.” — Mischa Maisky
Jakub Hrůša’s next and final performance as chief conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia is June 14 in Prague’s Rudolfinum.
– Hana Blažková, Opus Osm writer
Photo Credits: Top two: Morris-Media 2015; Hrůša-Maisky, Hana Blažková