Noah Bendix-Balgley (photo: Sebastian Hänel)

Chamber Music

Homage to Josef Suk

This concert focuses on an almost forgotten composer: the Czech Josef Suk, son-in-law of Antonín Dvořák and one of the leading musical personalities of their time. The programme traces Suk’s development from his late Romantic Piano Quartet, still under the influence of Dvořák, to the avant-garde Second String Quartet. The musicians are all members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and its ensembles: first concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, the Philharmonic String Quartet, the Philharmonia Klaviertrio Berlin, the Feininger Trio and the Venus Ensemble.

Philharmonia Klaviertrio Berlin

Feininger Trio

Noah Bendix-Balgley violin

Venus Ensemble Berlin

Philharmonisches Streichquartett

Tamara Stefanovich piano

Josef Suk

Piano Quartet in A minor, op. 1

Philharmonia Klaviertrio Berlin, Philipp Bohnen violin, Julia Gartemann viola, Nikolaus Römisch cello, Kyoko Hosono piano

Josef Suk

Life and Dreams, 10 Pieces for Piano, op. 30

Tamara Stefanovich piano

Josef Suk

Piano Trio in C minor, op. 2

Feininger Trio, Romano Tommasini violin, David Riniker cello, Adrian Oetiker piano

Josef Suk

Elegy in D flat major, op. 23a

Feininger Trio, David Riniker cello, Adrian Oetiker piano, Romano Tommasini violin

Josef Suk

Vier Stücke für Violine und Klavier op. 17

Noah Bendix-Balgley violin, Tamara Stefanovich piano

Josef Suk

Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 8

Venus Ensemble Berlin, Kotowa Machida violin, Rachel Schmidt violin, Julia Gartemann viola, Solène Kermarrec cello, Özgür Aydin piano

Josef Suk

Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale “St. Wenceslas“, op. 35a

Philharmonisches Streichquartett, Dorian Xhoxhi violin, Helena Madoka Berg violin, Kyoungmin Park viola, Christoph Heesch cello

Josef Suk

String Quartet No. 2, op. 31

Philharmonisches Streichquartett, Dorian Xhoxhi violin, Helena Madoka Berg violin, Kyoungmin Park viola, Christoph Heesch cello

Performance with 2 intermissions

Dates and Tickets

Programme

“Even Schoenberg, who attaches special value to flops, was envious of me because of this one”, Josef Suk wrote after the Berlin performance of his Second String Quartet in 1912, where there were riots in the audience. A friend expressed the opinion that the work seems so hypermodern that it is at least ten years ahead of its time. Few people know today that Josef Suk is considered one of the most influential Czech composers of the 20th century. When people hear his name, most think first of the great violinist of the world-famous Czech String Quartet, or of the man who was Antonín Dvořák’s son-in-law and Bohuslav Martinů’s teacher. Violinist, pianist, composer, teacher – the versatile musical talent of Josef Suk from Bohemia was already evident early on. He was only eleven when he began studying at the Prague Conservatory. During the final year of his studies he became a student of Antonín Dvořák, with whom he composed his first work that was published: the Piano Quartet in A minor, op. 1.

This concert with chamber music works by the Czech composer, to whom the Berliner Philharmoniker are devoting a programmatic focus this season, traces Suk’s development from his late romantic piano quartet, still under Dvořák’s influence, to the avantgarde Second String Quartet referred to above. Along the way he composed the Piano Trio in C minor inspired by the Bohemian idiom, the Piano Quintet in G minor, which aroused Johannes Brahms’s admiration, the seemingly transcendent Elegy in D flat major, which Suk composed upon the death of his friend, writer Julius Zeyer, as well as the Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, in which the composer created various atmospheric pictures – melancholy, passionate, mysterious, humorous. The Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale “St. Wenceslas” occupies a special position in Suk’s oeuvre. Only rarely did the composer fall back on pre-existing melodies; in this case, he used a well-known Czech church hymn from the 12th century, on the basis of which he composed a contemplative, heartfelt musical prayer.

Philharmonic musicians and ensembles will participate in this homage to Josef Suk: First Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, the Philharmonic String Quartet, the Philharmonia Piano Trio Berlin, the Feininger Trio and the Venus Ensemble.

Noah Bendix-Balgley (photo: Sebastian Hänel)

Feininger Trio (photo: privat)

Philharmonia Klaviertrio (photo: Stephan Roehl)

Philharmonisches Streichquartett (photo: privat)