Italian and French music. Two venerable superpowers. Two different musical spheres… An introduction of this sort could lead to a captivating lecture on the history of music, filled with samples of the most exquisite musical performances and their expression of heart-wrenching emotion through poetics and remarkable musical mastery. The history of Renaissance, Baroque and classical music tells the tale of two rivals: France, with its love-filled serenades and Italy, ignited with passion. The dazzling magic of these compositions is brought to life in the modern day thanks to ensembles focused on the authentic performance of early music—that is, musicians who have mastered antique instruments and top-class singers who make skillful use of techniques specific to the genre. Soon, it will be time for these virtuosos to present their craft en masse, at the largest domestic festival focused on this time period: The St. Wenceslas Music Festival (WMF, 2-28 September 2022).
ITALY: Passion and virtuosity
The resident ensemble Collegium Marianum, along with Czechia’s best baroque violinist, Lenka Torgersen, and phenomenal flautist Jana Semerádová will be the first to display the beauty of Baroque Italy at the WMF. Their performance, ‘Vivaldi / Händel / Tartini—Clash of the Titans’, will take place at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Hlučín at the start of the festival (5 September). This lineup will then accompany the remarkable Italian soprano Roberta Mameli at Ostrava’s oldest church, the Church of St. Wenceslas. Currently, Mameli is deemed to be among the global elites with her baroque repertoire, due to her ‘silky smooth and incredibly agile voice, able to capture an infinitely wide range of emotions’ (7 September). She will bring a thrilling set of arias from operas by Vivaldi, Caldara and Händel to Ostrava, with which she has already awed audiences in Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Lyon and Barcelona.
Violin virtuoso Jiří Vodička, along with the ensemble Barocco Sempre Giovane, will then perform a series of incredibly challenging concerts by Locatelli, Tartini (Devil’s Trill) and Corelli (9 September, Bolatice, Church of St. Stanislaus; 10 September, Ostrava Pustkovec, Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius). The charismatic violinist enrolled at the University of Ostrava at the young age of fourteen. Thanks to his talent, not only has he become one of the youngest concertmasters for the Czech Philharmonic but one of the most respected Czech soloists ever. His skill with the violin is simply breathtaking.
Another noteworthy talent of the new generation is the flautist Michaela Koudelková (specializing in playing the baroque recorder), who managed to be among the six finalists, out of a total of 2,000 participants from eighty-eight countries around the world, in the American Kaleidoscope competition. She will reveal part of her championship performance in the ‘Händel / Corelli— Inspired by Rome’ show on 10 September (in Rychvald at the Hus Choir) and 11 September at the newly reconstructed Nová Horka chateau near Studénka (at the Chapel of the Finding of the Holly Cross).
Finally, one of Czechia’s best mezzo-sopranos, Markéta Cukrová, will pay homage to female baroque Italian composers by performing the unjustly neglected works of female composers from the famous Giulia Caccini family. Her chamber recitals in Dolní Benešov (25 September at the Church of St. Martin) and Fulnek (26 September at the World of Komenský Fulnek) will be accompanied by Kateřina Ghannudi (playing the harp) and Jan Krejča (playing the theorbo).
FRANCE: Charm and creativity
The chamber ensemble LA QUINTA PARS, founded while its members were students at the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur in Lyon, will bring polyphonic Renaissance chansons and instrumental compositions to the WMF. These young instrumentalists, hailing from France, Chili, Japan and Czechia, focus on the historical and dynamic restitution of Renaissance music — the fascinating undiscovered heritage of famous French musicians of the 16th century. Their one-of-a-kind concert can be experienced in Orlová on 20 September (at the Evangelical Church) and in Jablunkov on 22 September (at the Church of the Corpus Christi).
Concerts in churches are truly a unique experience!