That programme also includes the lyrical and reflective Rhapsody that Martinu wrote for viola and orchestra and Dvoraks great Seventh Symphony. The conductor for this concert is Sir Colin Davis, the LSOs principal he also conducts Ma Vlast and while he is a noted Dvorak interpreter, one doesnt especially associate him with other Bohemian composers not even Mahler! So when Sir Colin leads Janaceks Taras Bulba and Dvoraks Te Deum (25 March) and more Janacek, Glagolitic Mass, on 22 April, it will not only be the superb music that warrants attention, it will be Sir Colins approach that is of especial interest.
That concert on 22 April will close Bohemian Spring and will culminate a three-concert climax. On the two nights before, as part of the Barbican Centres Great Performers series, Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Czech Philharmonic play Mozart, Prokofiev, Strauss and Mahler what, no Czech music? yes, Mahler was Bohemian (born in Kaliste) but you know what I mean. Perhaps before Ashkenazy plays and directs Mozarts D minor concerto (20 April) there might be room for Dvoraks Carnival Overture or something like that?
The National Youth Orchestra is another guest and includes Josef Suks large-scale Asrael Symphony the Angel of Death in its programme on 10 April. Jiri Belohlavek will no doubt be a very sympathetic and helpful guide through this music at rehearsals. He also conducts the LSO in the opening concerts. Dvoraks Stabat Mater has come and gone, but his lyrical and dancing Violin Concerto is arriving this Thursday (8 March) with Sarah Chang, in company with Josef Suk (who was Dvoraks pupil and son-in-law) whose sunny Fantastic Scherzo with a wonderful big tune is rather different in mood to Asrael. Janaceks brass-dominated Sinfonietta closes the concert.
Its strings all the way on Sunday 18 March when one of the LSOs Leaders, Alexander Barantschik, directs his colleagues in the delights of Dvoraks and Suks Serenades.
Then its all-voices. The London Symphony Chorus under Stephen Westrop perform a wide-ranging programme from Zelenka (born 1679) to Petr Eben (born 1929) the only living Czech composer in the whole series it should be noted via Dvorak, Janacek, Novak and Martinu (6 April).
Its with a sense of joy I think of the uplifting coda to Dvoraks Te Deum chorus and orchestra re-united under Colin Davis (25 March) and fondly remember some excellent beer in Prague last year. Lets raise a glass to Bohemian Spring!
- LSO concerts on 7 and 8 March (Jiri Belohlavek), 18 (LSO Strings), 21, 25 & 29 March and 22 April (Sir Colin Davis)
- LSO Chorus 8 April
- National Youth Orchestra/Belohlavek 10 April
- Czech Philharmonic/Ashkenazy - 20 & 21 April
- All concerts in the Barbican Hall at 7.30
- Box Office 020 7638 8891
- Online booking www.lso.co.uk
- Read Richard Whitehouses review of the opening concert