The edition of our Sunday Music Show is dedicated to the upcoming Prague Spring International Music Festival, which takes place from May 12 through June 3, and features nearly two dozen concerts by world-class musicians and ensembles – all free of charge.
The Prague Spring is being held for the 67th time. But this year it will be completely different, as it will be an online festival. That said, all concerts will be broadcast live via the Prague Spring website. Selected concerts will also be broadcast by Czech Radio and Czech Television and. So, those who are not among the lucky listeners in the concert halls themselves can still enjoy top artists and ensembles from literally around the world.
(The festival will be unique also because the Prague Spring has been selected as a pilot project for the possible functioning of cultural events while the coronavirus pandemic is still being brought under control. Spectators will attend the four selected concerts, but they will be obliged to undergo a PCR test the day before to greatly reduce the chance of infection.)
The program includes world-famous names such as Ion Marin, Mark Wigglesworth, the Huelgas Ensemble, Kiya Tabassian and Garrick Ohlsson – and, of course, top Czech artists, such as the Collegium 1704 ensemble.
It was the Collegium 1704 ensemble of Václav Luks that organisers unexpectedly entrusted to perform the introductory concert. Why is that surprising? The program of the opening concert is set in stone – it always begins with by Má vlast (My Country) by Bedřich Smetana. Collegium 1704 is one of the best performers of early music, and therefore performing high romanticism is a great departure from its traditional repertoire, which is mainly baroque music.
In addition, the offer for Collegium 1704 to start the Prague Spring did not come until March, just two months before the festival. For the occasion, the ensemble has had to significantly increase the number of musicians who, on the contrary, have experience with music of the late 19th century. When actors get a film role that is the polar opposite to what they are known for, they have been “cast against type”. And that is akin to what Collegium 1704 is now facing. The Czech music public is waiting for the opening concert of this year’s festival with great curiosity.
You can listen to Bedřich Smetana’s Má vlast as performed by Collegium 1704 only from June 12 on festival.cz. In the meantime, we will listen to this ensemble in its traditional repertoire. In today’s Sunday Music Show, we will hear Sonata No. 4 for two oboes, bassoon and basso continuo by earl 18th century Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka.