Czech Phil splits in half to limit quarantine risk

The Czech Philharmonic has taken the unusual step of dividing into separate, no-contact groups as Covid cases spike across the country.

The orchestra’s opening concerts are dedicated to former chief conductor Vaclav Neumann, whose centenary falls on 29 September.

 

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  • This measure has been taken already back in May (!) by e.g. Munich Philharmonic and was an official (VBG) recommendation for German orchestras.

  • This is an excellent idea. I hope that other ensembles do so, if they are in a position to do so.

    Commission works to cater to these scaled-down forces!

    Explore works already written by living composers for smaller ensembles.

    There is so much literature that these smaller groups can explore.

    Strauss tone poems are too large? Perform his Oboe Concerto, Duet-Concertino, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, or any of his wind serenades and suites.

    The Stravinsky ballets are too grandiose? How about the Octet, L’Histoire du Soldat, Concerto for Piano and Winds, or the neglected Four Norwegian Moods.

    Schoenberg Gurrelieder would be a wonderful way to close a season once the pandemic is over. How about the Chamber Symphony #1 right now?

    If this orchestra would like to explore any Americana, many Copland works are of the right scale for these small forces: not only the warhorses like Appalachian Spring, but many of his other works for reduced forces, including those extracted from his movie scores. Ditto Virgil Thomson’s music.

    The basis of a lovely Dvorak program could be the String and Wind Serenades.

    Of course, there is vast amounts of material from the late Baroque, Galant, and Classical periods.

    And more!

  • I would point out that the Czech Philharmonic is a large orchestra – probably about 120 players, with five of every wind/brass and large string sections who rotate. Mahler, Shostakovich, and big Strauss and Stravinsky are probably out, but even at half-size they can play a lot of the standard rep. And they didn’t say they wouldn’t bring in students from their academy.

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