Collegium 1704 has announced the programme of its upcoming concert season, which has been organised in parallel in the Czech Republic and Germany as part of the Prague – Dresden Music Bridge since 2015. The programme features musical gems from the Baroque era, as well as major works from later stylistic periods.

“We still define ourselves as a Baroque orchestra, and Baroque repertoire makes up eighty percent of our activities. I see these excursions into later stylistic periods as a welcome source of renewal and a new challenge. This variety has had a great response from our audiences, as our first performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony this past season can attest. Because the response has been so overwhelmingly positive, I have decided to build on the ‘Seventh’, and next year in February we will be performing Beethoven’s famous Eroica. The decision to include this particular work in the programme is also linked to the fact that recently, I have been often cooperating with the Handel & Haydn Society period instrument orchestra in Boston as a guest conductor. Music from around 1800 is a dominant part of their repertoire, they are very interested in Beethoven, and I have been invited to conduct several of these programmes,” explains Václav Luks, conductor and artistic director of Collegium 1704. According to Luks, the concert will moreover offer an interesting confrontation of Eroica with the Symphony in D Minor “La Tempesta” by Paul Wranitzky, Beethoven’s close collaborator and an influential figure of Viennese musical life at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The second diversion from the orchestra’s Baroque core repertoire springs from another long-term cooperation with an important international institution, this time with the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw. “This year I will be conducting Polish musicians at the finals of the prestigious Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition, which is dedicated to historic pianos. The two Chopin piano concertos will be performed. A few days later, the audience at the Rudolfinum will also hear one of these concertos, in our performance, with the new laureate of the competition as soloist,” Luks explains, adding that the orchestra will announce the name of the soloist and the choice of the Chopin concerto on 16 October.

The November evening at the Rudolfinum will take the audience back in time to the beginnings of the Baroque with the music of Claudio Monteverdi. His Marian Vespers is at the same time a work that foreshadowed the direction of European thought for centuries to come, and therefore still inspires admiration and respect today. In December, the audience can look forward to hearing two jewels of the High Baroque performed by Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704: Missa Corporis Domini by Jan Dismas Zelenka will be performed for the first time, together with the setting of the Marian hymn known as Magnificat, one of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s most popular compositions ever.

Handel’s Messiah in a legendary performance by Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704 in April 2011

The works of another Baroque giant, Georg Friedrich Handel, have in many cases been extraordinarily popular from the very beginning. Next March, his oratorio Messiah will once more enchant listeners at the Rudolfinum. The solo parts will be performed by acclaimed international vocalists: Belgian soprano Deborah Cachet, American alto Avery Amereau, Polish tenor Krystian Adam, and Italian bass Luigi De Donato.

De Donato will also be the protagonist of the final programme of the season, Il Polifemo. Together with Collegium 1704, De Donato will present various Baroque settings of ancient Greek mythical narratives focused on figure of the one-eyed and three-fingered cyclop Polyphemus.

The visual style of the season will once again be based on the poetic illustrations of the versatile artist and man of theatre Matěj Forman. This time it will be a selection from his illustrations for the Albatros publishing house, originally used in František Hrubín’s book From One Spring to the Next.