PKF – Prague Philharmonia
Los Angeles Times
“The PKF showed a wonderful precision (even in slow passages) and easy cohesion. The strings had a bright, even brilliant sound, but were never brittle. The winds and brass displayed some piquant colors, crystalline flutes, faraway oboes, peppery horns.”
Palm Beach Daily News
“The program opened with Bedřich Smetana’s The Moldau (Vtlava), Symphonic Poem No. 2 in E minor…This orchestra seems to add an authenticity to this piece others may not be able to. Hearing these touring orchestras play their native music is a special feature of the Kravis’s Regional Arts Concert Series, and is a different experience than hearing a local orchestra in a regular season program…Closing the concert was Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88. The orchestra stepped up its energy a little more here for Dvořák, another Czech composer. The brass and celli got to play out a bit more after sitting back during the concerti, and much like the opening of the concert, the flute section continued to shine.”
“The PKF Prague Philharmonia is a young orchestra that doesn’t let their youth hinder them. Last night, watching them play works by Czech composers Smetana and Dvořák was quite an experience. If these composers had love for their country transcribed into their music, it was absolutely clear that this young orchestra too, share that patriotism… Villaume’s reading…gave us an understanding more of the whole symphony through his approach. The result was a solid and balanced performance. Woodwinds shone through, strings were colourful and the brass gave a wonderful contrast. There were some strongly evocative passages that portrayed Bohemian landscapes once again, but in ways that remind us of its purity and unspoilt beauty. The final movement closed in a rousing finish, concluding a fantastic night of wonderful music.”
San Diego Union Tribune
“In climactic passages, they filled the hall with powerful low resonance and bright brass sonorities. They responded to the direction of Emmanuel Villaume with slick ensemble work and cohesive phrasing. The musicians reacted to Villaume with a near-telepathic response, as sympathetic to his conducting as a piano is to a virtuoso’s fingers. There were many marvelous moments: the flutes and clarinets intertwined at the beginning of “The Moldau” to give way to the larger group, and later, the fluid, teasing tempo and dynamics of the folk dance section; Jan Musil’s bright yet mellow horn solo in Dvořák’s “Cello Concerto,” and the solid foundation of the trombones and tuba later in the work, as well as in the Eighth Symphony; the gentle flute solo in the first movement of the symphony, the woodwind section work in the second movement, and Svatopluk Zaal’s clear, steady trumpet tone in the final movement…This was a memorable performance, brooding, sentimental and heroic.”
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia, originally called the Prague Philharmonia, was founded in 1994 at the initiative of the world-famous conductor Jiří Bělohlávek to bring a breath of fresh air to the Czech and the global music scene in the form of a contagious élan and a drive to achieve superior performance of every detail of the score.
Soon after its founding, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia joined the ranks of the most respected Czech orchestras and established great renown in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
In its “manifesto”, the orchestra highlighted vigour, energy, and perfectionism, as well as a tremendous love for the music, with which it imbues each and every concert.
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is beloved for its characteristic sound, created in large part by the key focus of its repertoire: Viennese Classicism, pieces by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. This area is the ensemble’s primary domain, and an area at which it excels. The spirit of the art from this historical period is perfectly reflected in the PKF – Prague Philharmonia credo: to play with crystal-clear purity and a straightforward, sparkling passion that will ensure that every listener, regardless of age or profession, may understand every detail of the music performed and return home from its concerts full of joie de vivre. The art presented by the PKF – Prague Philharmonia is both exceptional and accessible to everyone.
The repertoire also includes Romance compositions, as well as modern and contemporary music, performed within a Special Concert series unique among the selections of Czech orchestras.
Since the beginning of the 2008–2009 season, the orchestra has been headed by Chief Conductor and Music Director Jakub Hrůša, whodespite his young age already enjoys great international renown. The ensemble’s founder, the globally celebrated Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, was at its helm until 2005, when he was named the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate. From 2005 to 2008, the Chief Conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia was the Swiss conductor and flautist Kaspar Zehnder. Since the beginning of the 2015–16 season, the post of Music Director and Chief Conductor has been held by the distinguished French conductor Emmanuel Villaume.
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is a regular guest at international music festivals, frequently performs at prestigious world concert halls, and is a regular partner of world-famous conductors and soloists including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Milan Turković, Jefim Bronfman, András Schiff, Shlomo Mintz, Sarah Chang, Isabelle Faust, Mischa Maisky, Magdalena Kožená, Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Rolando Villazón, Plácido Domingo, Elina Garanča, Juan Diego Flórez, Radek Baborák, Thomas Hampson, and many others.
To date the orchestra has recorded more than 60 CDs for prominent Czech and foreign labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca,Supraphon, EMI, Warner Music, and Harmonia Mundi. Some of its albums have received such prestigious accolades as the RAC Canada Gold Disc (2000), the Harmonie Award (2001), and the Diapason d’Or (September 2007).
Guest artists featured on the PKF – Prague Philharmonia’s recordings include Anna Netrebko, Eva Urbanová, Magdalena Kožená, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Iva Bittová, Peter Dvorský, Dagmar Pecková, and many others. The most critically acclaimed album is the live recording of the orchestra’s performance of Smetana’s My Country at Prague Spring 2010, conducted by Jakub Hrůša.