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Prague Chamber Orchestra

Prague Chamber Orchestra

Category: Ensembles

The Prague Chamber Orchestra are a world-renowned ensemble, operating without a conductor since its establishment in 1951. Famed for their sensitivity, cohesion and attention to the smallest detail, the ensemble continue to expand on their sixty-year reputation as one of the most sought-after chamber ensembles in the world.

 

Biography

Prague Chamber Orchestra boast a unique position not only among Czech ensembles, but worldwide, as a large ensemble without a conductor. This requires a unique rapport between all members as each relates not to the conductor’s baton but to the ensemble as a whole, assuming the role of a chamber music player even though the instrumentation is much larger; a practice which stems from the late 18th century peak Classicist period. The instrumentation thus comprises a multiplied string quartet (11 violins, 4 violas, 4 violoncellos a 2 basses) supplemented with a doubled wind sextet (flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, French horns, trumpets) and timpani.

 

It was the initiative of the players as performers of solo parts that has marked the success of the Prague Chamber Orchestra, beginning when first players of the individual instrument sections of the Czechoslovak Radio Symphony Orchestra got together to start a smaller ensemble better suited for their new programming. They then focused largely on older Bohemian music, as attested by the ensemble’s very first recording, Orchestral Quartet by Karel Stamic, cut in October 1951. Their appearance at the prestigious Prague Spring Festival a year later propelled the ensemble into being one of the most-demanded Czech ensembles, a status greatly enhanced by the growing tendency to abolish the former practice of full instrumentation of older music.

 

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Reviews

UC Berkeley Zellerbach Hall, San Francisco, 2003

 

“The Prague Chamber Orchestra clearly demonstrated the benefits of maintaining their tradition in Friday’s performance…their offering, an all-Beethoven concert, was quite simply among some of the finest orchestral playing to grace a Bay Area stage.”

 

“The orchestra’s approach was a revelation.”

 

“The winds seemed to emerge seamlessly from string textures, and achieved an uncanny balance between blending and standing in relief. The attention given to the minutest details was astonishing, but most compelling were the clear sense of direction, the appreciation of expressive gestures, and the sense of confident vision that they manage to project. This is all the more impressive as they perform without conductor.”

John Lutterman, San Francisco Classical Voice, 24/10/03

 

 

Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, 2003

“The concert was an evening full of polished musical energy and contrasting materials”

 

“The Prague Chamber Orchestra is a committed and workable democracy…their prevision and all-for-one ensemble voice was evident from the first measures of the concert-opener, Beethoven’s festive Coriolan Overture

 

“The orchestra’s string forces eloquently delivered the music’s mournful beauty, a radical departure from the vibrant Beethoven concerto.”

Josef Woodward, Santa Barbara News Press, 28/10/03

 

 

Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Hong Kong Arts Festival, 2004

“There was an exquisite charm about the Prague Chamber Orchestra’s concert”

 

“The orchestra seemed to have brought to Hong Kong the glade, the stream, the dancing of light and shadows and the birds’ chirping from the ancient Bohemian woods.”


“The winds, especially the flute, were a joy to hear

Vincent Mak, South China Morning Post, 02/03/04

 


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