Chamber music record

September 2006, May 2016

Sunday Times „Recording of the week“

March 2016


Chamber music record


August 2005, September 2006,
December 2008, May 2016

MusicWeb International
Recording of the month
June 2014

The Smetana Trio, founded in the year 1934 by the legendary Czech pianist Josef Páleníček, is today one of the foremost Czech ensembles. In 2014 the Smetana Trio celebrates 80th jubilee of its foundation. It can be seen frequently on leading concert stages both in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring, Janáček May, Moravian Autumn, Concentus moraviae, Malá Strana Chamber Festivities) and abroad (France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Benelux, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Japan, Brazil, USA, Canada, South Korea, Egypt).

The Smetana Trio works with leading conductors – i. a. Jiří Bělohlávek, Libor Pešek, Serge Baudo, John Axelrod, Michael Boder, Tomáš Hanus, Stanislav Vavřínek – and Czech and foreign orchestras, including, for example the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana Lugano, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonic, the ONPL Orchestra Nantes, the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc.

The Smetana Trio has made a number of recordings for Czech and international labels and has recorded regularly for Supraphon since 2000. This cooperation has brought a number of prestigious awards both at home and abroad – e.g. a CD with works by Smetana, Suk and Novák (Supraphon 2005) received prestigious awards from the French magazines Diapason and Le Monde de la musique. This recording was also chosen by the British BBC Music Magazine as its chamber music recording of the month in August 2005. Ano ther Smetana Trio recording, this time works by Dvořák (Supraphon 2006), was again voted by the BBC Music Magazine as the best recording of the month in September 2006 and later received the BBC Music Magazine Chamber Award for 2007 and also the prestigious French Diapason D’Or. The recording of trios by Tchaikovsky and Dvořák (Supraphon 2008) received the BBC Chamber recording of the month in December 2008. Other Supraphon recording project, released in autumn 2012, are complete piano trios by J. Brahms. The most recent recordings are with works by J. Brahms – 1st part of complete concertos (Double Concerto and Piano Concerto No.1 – TRIART Recording 2013) and complete recording of trios by Shostakovich and Ravel (Supraphon 2014) – MusicWeb International – recording of the month, June 2014. In 2015 the Smetana Trio recorded the new CD of the complete trios by B. Martinu, which received many international awards immediately – BBC MM Recording of the month, Diapason d´Or, Sunday Times Recording of the week, TIP of the Harmonie etc.

Jitka Čechová completed her piano studies at Prague Conservatory under Jan Novotný and continued at the Academy of Performing Arts under Peter Toperczer. She completed her postgraduate studies under Eugen Indjic in Paris and Vitali Berzon in Freiburg, and took master classes under Rudolf Kehrer in Weimar, and Eugen Indjic and Lazar Berman in Piešťany.

She has been the laureate of numerous international competitions and the subject of critical acclaim as a soloist in many European countries as well as in South Africa, South America and Japan.

She performs regularly on prestigious international stages and festivals both at home and abroad (Edinburgh, Graz, Paris, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, the Bodensee Festival, Prague Spring, Ticino Musica etc.). For Jitka Čechová, chamber music is one of the essential elements of her musical identity. She has made a number of solo and chamber recordings for Czech and international labels. In 2014 she finished a large project of the complete piano works by Bedřich Smetana for Supraphon (8 CDs). Presently she is realizing the new recording project of the Czech Radio – the complete sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. In the spring 2016 will be released the new CD of the complete 3 piano concertos and Concertino by Josef Páleníček with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by R. Zollman and S. Vavrinek.

Jiří Vodička is one of the most distinguished Czech violinists. In his early youth,  he gained much attention by winning a number of competitions in 2000 only, e.g. International Violin Competition J. Kocian, Prague Junior Note, Cirenie Talentov. In 2002, he won the 1st prize at the International Violin Competition in Hradec Králové and a special prize for the best participant in the Master classes of Václav Hudeček. In 2004, he won the 1st prize in the International Violin Competition Louis Spohr in Weimar.
At the age of 14, he was admitted to the Institute of Arts at Ostrava University in the class of the renowned teacher Zdeněk Gola. Since 2007 he follows a career as soloist with major Czech pianists as his partners: Martin Kasík, Adam Skoumal and Lukáš Vondráček, and since 2010 he has begun to give his attention as violin teacher of Prague Conservatory.
Jiří is a permanent soloist of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra at home and on tour. He also is performing regularly with the Prague Philharmonia, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Czech Chamber Orchestra, National Theatre Orchestra and other. Many of his concerts were recorded by Czech Radio and Television.
In 2008, at the age of 20, Jiří Vodička – against several hundred instrumentalists from all over the world – won the first prize at the world renowned Young Concert Artist Competition in Leipzig, gaining admittance to the final round in  New York in 2009, where he obtained the 2nd prize.
Jiří Vodička is a guest of prestigious music festivals, e.g. Prague Spring, Young Prague, Grand Festival of China, Hohenloher Kultursommer, Choriner Musiksommer and on the invitation by Gidon Kremer at Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus. He will play at the opening concert of the Musiktage Salzgitter, he will be the soloist in the Prague Symphony Orchestra series under the baton of Jiří Kout, and he will also perform with the Wuhan Philharmonia with Maestro James Liu Peng. Jiří Vodička is playing a fine old Italian violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, made in Turin, 1779, kindly loaned by Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, London.
In the season 2015/16 he became the new concert master of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Jan Páleníček studied at the Conservatory and the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague under Saša Večtomov and Miloš Sádlo. Close contacts with Paul Tortelier, the world-famous French cellist, made for a happy culmination to his early development. He studied chamber music under his father, Josef Páleníček, and in the class of Josef Vlach – first violin in the legendary Vlach Quartet.

Participation in international competitions has brought Jan Páleníček numerous awards. As a soloist he plays regularly with leading Czech and international orchestras, including the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra Ostrava, the Lugano Festival Orchestra (Switzerland), the Suk Chamber Orchestra, the Hradec Králové Symphony Orchestra, the Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, the Brno State Philharmonic, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (Germany), the Prague Philharmonia, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc, and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic-Durban (South Africa).

His concert tours have taken him not only to numerous Europe countries, but to America, Africa and Japan as well.

He has made numerous recordings for both Czech and internationals labels, and for radio and television.

His recordings of the sonatas of Brahms, Martinů, and Rachmaninov and the concertos of Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Haydn have been exceptionally well received. For a number of years he taught at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

Jitka Čechová

Jiří Vodička

Jan Páleníček

Jitka Čechová completed her piano studies at the Prague Conservatory (Prof. Novotný) and continued at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Prof. Toperczer). Her individual musical gifts were then developed to their full during postgraduate studies under Eugen Indjic in Paris and Vitali Berzon in Freiburg. She acquired further experience during her research studies at master classes given by Rudolf Kehrer in Weimar, and Eugen Indjic and Lazar Berman in Piešťany.

Jitka Čechová has been the laureate of numerous international competitions – International Chopin Competition in Marianske Lazne, International Smetana Competition in Hradec Kralove, International Hummel Piano Competition in Bratislava, International Chamber Music Competition in Detmold.

She has been the subject of critical acclaim as a soloist in many European countries as well as overseas (South Africa, South America and Japan), where she cooperates with prominent orchestras (such as Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, Symphony Orchestra SWR, South German Philharmonic Orchestra Konstanz, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Prague Chamber Philharmonia, Munich Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Radio Orchestra Montevideo, and Symphonic Orchestra Durban) and gives both solo and chamber performances. She is regularly invited to prestigious international stages and festivals (including Prague Spring, Graz, Paris, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, Bodensee Festival, Český Krumlov, Moravian Autumn, Edinburgh, Bamberg, Janáček May, Ticino Musica).

Chamber music is an indispensable component of Jitka Čechová’s musical identity. She brings a full emotional commitment to bear to her role as pianist in the Smetana Trio, supported by the brilliant technical basis of her solo metier. Within the Smetana Trio partnership she also plays chamber duets with her partners in the Trio (Jiří Vodička – violin, Jan Páleníček – cello) and performs solo pieces as part of the Trio’s chamber music repertoire.

The focus of Jitka Čechová’s repertoire is on works by the Czech composers – Smetana, Dvořák, Janáček, and Martinů. She has given two concerts consisting of works by Smetana at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. Zdeněk Lukáš dedicated his Third Piano Concerto to her, which she premiered with spectacular success during her concert tour of Germany with the Symphony Orchestra Südwestfunk (cond. Petr Altrichter).
Jitka Čechová has made a number of recordings for the labels Intercord, BMG, Lotos, and Cube. In 2014 – in the year of Bedrich Smetana´s jubilee – she finished her recording of the complete piano works by Bedřich Smetana for Supraphon (8 CDs), a project that has collected awards by major music critics and magazines both at home and abroad – Diapason, Répertoire, International Record Review, and Harmonie. Recently she made a recording of all three piano concertos and concertino written by Josef Palenicek in the cooperation with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra (cond. Ronald Zollman and Stanislav Vavrinek). Presently she is cooperating on the large project of the complete sonatas recordning by Domenico Scarlatti for the Czech Radio.

She has given master classes in Prague, London, the Northern College of Music in Manchester, Brasilia and Campos do Jordao in Brazil, the Colburn School University in Los Angeles, Eau Claire in Wisconsin, and in Luxemburg.

Jiří Vodička, concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic, soloist, and chamber musician, is one of the most prominent and most sought-after Czech violinists. Already as a child he made a name for himself by winning prizes in many competitions, notably in the Jaroslav Kocian international violin competition, the Prague Junior Note, and the Slovak competition Čirenie talentov. In 2002 he won first prize in the international violin competition Beethoven’s Hradec, and in the same year he was awarded a prize as the best pupil attending Václav Hudeček’s violin classes. He later performed with Hudeček in dozens of concerts throughout the Czech Republic. In 2004 he carried off the prize as overall winner of the International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists in Weimar in Germany. In 2008 he brought back first and second prizes from the world-famous Young Concert Artist competition, which took place in Leipzig and New York.

Exceptionally, Jiří Vodička was accepted at an institute of higher education (the Institute of Art Studies at the University of Ostrava) at the age of only 14. He studied there under the renowned teacher, Prof. Zdeněk Gola, and graduated with a master’s degree in 2007.

Jiří Vodička regularly performs as a soloist with many leading orchestras both in the Czech Republic and abroad, including the Czech Philharmonic, the Prague Philharmonia, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, and, among those in other countries, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen. He also works with such leading conductors as Jiří Bělohlávek, Jakub Hrůša, and Tomáš Netopil.

In 2014 he recorded his debut solo album Violino Solo with the Supraphon company. It contains some of the most difficult compositions for solo violin and met with a positive response from critics both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Many of his concerts have been broadcast by Czech Television, Czech Radio, and the German ARD broadcasting company.

As a chamber artist he performs together with the leading Czech pianists Martin Kasík, Ivoš Kahánek, Ivan Klánský, and Miroslav Sekera. In 2011 he was invited by the famous violinist Gidon Kremer to perform at his Kammermusikfest festival in Lockenhaus, Austria, together with many world-famous artists. He is regularly invited to perform at leading festivals, such as the Prague Spring, Janáček’s May, the Grand Festival of China, and the Choriner Musiksommer. Since 2012 he has been a member of the Smetana Trio, with whom he has recorded two CDs for Supraphon, and which has won the prestigious BBC Music Magazine and Diaposon d’Or awards.

In 2015 he became first violin with the Czech Philharmonic. He teaches at the Prague Conservatory and at Ostrava University.

He plays an Italian instrument made by Joseph Gagliano in 1764.

Cellist Jan Palenicek, as soloist and chamber musician is heir to a great musical family tradition that was established by his father Josef Palenicek, pianist, world-famous interpreter of Janacek, and founder of the first Smetana Trio. Jan Palenicek was the pupil of the greatest Czech cellists of their generation, Saša Večtomov and Miloš Sádlo, and studied chamber music with Prof. Josef Vlach (first violin of the Vlach Quartet). His meeting with Paul Tortelier, the French cellist of world renown, represented the culmination of his artistic training. His early participation in competitions brought him a number of prizes and accolades.

Major concerto performances have been given with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Brno State Philharmonic, Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, the Lugano Festival Orchestra, the Suk Chamber Orchestra, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban, Symphony Orchestra Brasilia.

Festival appearances include Prague Spring, Janáček May, Moravian Autumn and others. He has given concerts in most European countries as well as in Japan, America and South Africa.

He has recorded more than two dozen CDs for home and international labels, highlights from which include concertos by Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, Triple Concerto by Beethoven, Double Concerto by Brahms and the complete cello works by Brahms, Martinu and Rachmaninov.

Chamber music is closest to Jan Páleníček’s heart. He did after all grow up in a chamber music environment par excellence. Jan Páleníček is a member of the world-famous SMETANA TRIO together with the violinist Jiří Vodička and the pianist Jitka Čechová.

For a number of years he taught at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts.

He is also prominent as an artistic director and organiser of cultural events. He is Artistic Director of the cycle of festivals “Czech Culture Festivities” and director of the art agency “TRIART Management”.