The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, based in the northeast of the Czech Republic is named after the famous Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Raising from a Radio Orchestra founded in the period between the great wars when Paul Hindemith, Leoš Janáček, Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky frequently visited Ostrava, the organization which was established in 1954 has performed under the names the Czech Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Radio Orchestra. The ensemble is best known for the unique softness of its string section.
Risto Joost studied orchestral and choral conducting at the Estonian Academy of Music and the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. In 2008, he graduated from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm with a Master’s Degree in orchestral conducting under Jorma Panula. Joost became the Conductor in residence of the Estonian National Opera in 2009, Chief Conductor of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra in 2013, Artistic Director of the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir in 2015 and from spring 2016 has served as Artistic Director of Tallinn Philharmonic Society and Birgitta Festival. Joost's discography includes recordings of Haydn with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Peeter Vähi with the Latvian National Symphony, Arvo Pärt with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and various recordings of Estonian music with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. Mr Joost was honoured with the Young Cultural Figure Award by the Estonian Republic in 2011, and received the Music Prize of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for artistic activities at home and abroad in 2016.
Czech violinist, Jan Mráček, graduated from the Prague Conservatory under Professor Jiří Fišer and studied at the University of Music and the Performing Arts, in Vienna, under Jan Pospíchal. In 2011 he was the youngest soloist in history to appear with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, he won Vienna’s Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition at the Vienna Konzerthaus and later that year won took first prize at the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Pörtschach with the Lobkowicz Piano Trio. His recording of the Dvořák violin concerto and other works by the Czech composers under James Judd with the Czech National Symphony has been released on the Onyx label. Jan Mráček plays on a Carlo Fernando Landolfi violin, Milan 1758, generously loaned to him by Mr Peter Biddulph.
Antonín Dvořák began his violin concerto in the summer of 1879. The piece is the second of the composer’s three concertos, following one for piano from 1876 and preceding his renowned cello concerto. He had intended to dedicate his work to violinist, Joseph Joachim, who had premiered the Brahms concerto a few months earlier. Joachim had performed two of Dvorák's chamber works in 1879. In 1880 when Dvorák made an initial set of changes and sent a copy to Joachim, he waited nearly two years for a reply. Though later, Joachim repeatedly expressed his admiration for the concerto he never performed the piece in public. The premiere was given by Frantisek Ondrícek, in Prague, after Joachim’s plans to premiere it in London, in 1884, fell through.
An important structural idea of Dvorák's was to join the first two movements together without interruption. Robert Keller, in cooperation with Simrock publishers, criticized Dvorák for the irregularity, but the composer insisted, consequently the Quasi moderato transition leading from the first movement to the second is one of the composition’s most beautiful moments.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator