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Saturday, September 16, 2023, 8.00 pm
Dvořák Collection Chamber Series

Ticket prices

590 – 490 Kč


Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet No. 5 in F Minor, Op. 9, B. 37Ottorino Respighi: Il TramontoViktor Ullmann: The Tale of the Love and Death of Flag-Bearer Christoph Rilke (arr. for string quartet Harry-Imre Dijkstra)

The night before a battle, a night of love, timeless desire: all of this describes each of the three pieces of music that will be performed by the Bennewitz Quartet in the powerful acoustics and atmosphere of St Agnes Convent. Its patron, Head of Prague Conservatoire Anton Bennewitz, was a member of the ensemble that was supposed to perform the original premiere of String Quartet No. 5 in F Minor. The piece feels as though Antonín Dvořák had won his battle to find his distinctive musical style that would later help him conquer the world by combining his melodic diversity, conciseness, and enormous imagination.

The poetic Il Tramonto (The Sunset) by Ottorino Respighi will take the audience to the world of erotic sadness, where they will not be able to help themselves but wonder about Tristan and Isolde, or Pelléas and Mélisande. The interweaving of the string quartet with the mezzosoprano Markéta Cukrová promises a fantastic experience. Another human voice – in the form of recitation – will also be featured in the melodrama The Tale of the Love and Death of Flag-Bearer Christoph Rilke. This poem about a passionate, amorous night before a battle was set to music by Viktor Ullman during his forced stay in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • End of concert: 9:40 pm
  • Aftertalk


Bennewitz Quartet

The Bennewitz Quartet is one of the top international chamber ensembles, a status confirmed not only by their victories in two prestigious competitions – Osaka in 2005 and Premio Paolo Borciani, Italy in 2008, but also by the acclaim of the critics. As early as 2006, the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote: “... the music was remarkable not just for its clarity of structure, but for the beautiful tonal palette and purity of intonation in its execution. Only very rarely does one experience such skilfully crafted and powerful harmonies... Great art.” The ensemble has received various awards on the Czech music scene as well. In 2004 the quartet was awarded The Prize of the Czech Chamber Music Society and in 2019 the four musicians won the Classic Prague Award for the Best Chamber Music Performance of the year.

The quartet currently performs at major venues both in the Czech Republic and abroad (Wigmore Hall London, Musikverein Wien, Konzerthaus Berlin, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées Paris, The Frick Collection New York, Seoul Art Center, Rudolfinum and others), and is regularly invited to festivals such as the Salzburger Festspiele, Luzerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus, and the Prague Spring. The group has had the privilege of working with the outstanding artists: Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Alexander Melnikov, Vadim Gluzman, Isabel Charisius, Pietro de Maria, Reto Bieri, Danjulo Ishizaka and others.

The Bennewitz Quartet especially enjoys playing and performing on the Czech domestic music scene. Highlights include their cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Jiří Bělohlávek for a performance of Bohuslav Martinů’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra. The group has made a recording of both quartets by Leoš Janáček for Czech Television in the unique space of Villa Tugendhat in Brno. The Czech Radio regularly records major concerts of the quartet.

The fruits of their long-term cooperation with the Coviello Classics label include a recording of Leoš Janáček’s two string quartets and Béla Bartók’s fourth. The critics’ response was very positive. The magazine Fono Forum was impressed by the "fiery temperament". The second recording in the series, released in spring 2010, contains both of Bedřich Smetana’s quartets. The website called it “simply phenomenal”. Their next project was the recording of Antonín Dvořák’s complete Cypresses cycle, on the Hänssler Classic label, followed by the recording of quartets op. 51 and op.106 on the SWR music label. At present the quartet is working on the edition of a new CD with string quartets by Joseph Haydn.

The members of the quartet put a lot of stress on the inspiring and sometimes challenging choice of their concert repertoire. In 2012 and 2015, the ensemble performed in a sole evening the complete of Bartók’s six string quartets in Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and in Swedish Upsala. In 2014, the four presented a premiere of The Songs of Immigrants by Slavomír Hořínka in Konzerthaus Berlin. In 2019 the quartet added a new CD in its discography featuring the music of the persecuted Jewish composers H. Krása, V. Ullmann, E. Schulhoff and P. Haas on the Supraphon label.

In the 2021/22 season the Bennewitz Quartet will return to Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Rudolfinum Prague and many other stages. It will reappear at the Schwetzinger Festspiele, Music and Beyond Ottawa and will again tour in the USA. The quartet takes part in the performance of Dvořák’s complete string quartets at the Dvořák Prague festival between 2022 and 2024.

Since 1998 the quartet bears the name of the violinist and director of music conservatory in Prague, Antonín Bennewitz (1833–1926), who contributed greatly to the establishment of the Czech violin school. The most significant musicians among his disciples are Otakar Ševčík and František Ondříček and above all Karel Hoffman, Josef Suk and Oskar Nedbal who, under Bennewitz’s influence, formed the famous Bohemian Quartet.

Bennewitz Quartet

Markéta Cukrová

Markéta Cukrová belongs to the most sought-after Czech soloists in the field of historically informed music. She gives guest performances in the National Theatre in Prague, National Theatre in Brno, and Košice State Theatre. She regularly cooperates with Italian ensemble Mala Punica and Belgian Club Mediéval, in the Czech Republic she regularly performs with Collegium Marianum, Musica Florea, Czech Ensemble Baroque or Ensemble 18+. In recent years, she has been short-listed two times for the Opera Plus Award for the Best Opera Singer of the season and nominated for two major opera awards of the Czech Republic (Thalia, Classic Prague Awards).

The mezzo-soprano Markéta Cukrová is a unique phenomenon in the field of Czech vocal music. For her spectacular versatility and her sense of style, she ranks among the most sought-after singers in the field of “early music” up to 20th century classical music. She performs with many ensembles that offer top-class interpretations of both the Medieval and Baroque music (La Risonanza, Mala Punica, Les Muffatti, Collegium Marianum, Ensemble Tourbillon, Collegium Vocale Gent, Collegium 1704, Musica Florea, Ensemble Inégal, Czech Ensemble Baroque, Wroclaw Philharmony, {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna, Göttingen Festival Orchestra). Markéta has also participated in more than twenty recordings of early music with ensembles mentioned above.

Her performances of the early song repertoire from the turn of the nineteenth century (Haydn, Tomaschek, Berlioz) accompanied by fortepiano are highly prized, as well as her recordings of 8 Italian arias by J. D. Zelenka (Ensemble Tourbillon) and her recent recording of J. J. Ryba’s Stabat Mater together with the ensemble L'Armonie Terrena, which was awarded Diapason d'Or. The newest release represents the whole of Moravian duets by Antonín Dvořák accompanied by composer's own instrument (precious Bösendorfer, Vienna 1879). She also acted as the music dramaturge of the 9 Weeks of Baroque festival which was held during the project Pilsen – European Capital of Culture 2015.

Markéta is also engaged in pedagogical activities in the form of courses and lessons focused on the technique of singing and interpretation of vocal music. She also translated a book of interviews with famous teacher Margreet Honig which is about techniques and teaching of singing and was published under the title True Singing.

She is also known for her notable opera appearances: Her performance as Dardano in Händel’s Amadigi di Gaula at the Händelfestspiele in Göttingen, Germany, received high critical praise followed by an invitation to perform in a solo recital. She also guests in the Košice State Theatre (Handel/Alcina), the National Theatre Brno (Offenbach/ Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Martinů/The Miracles of Mary, Purcell/ Dido and Aeneas, Saariaho/ L'Amour de loin, Rossini/ Le comte Ory, Offenbach/ Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Ivanovič/Monument), the National Theatre Opera in Prague (Monteverdi/Orfeo, Händel/Rinaldo, Martinů/Julietta) and the The National Moravian-Silesian Theatre Ostrava (Britten/The Rape of Lucretia, Gluck/Ifigenia in Aulis, Martinů/Julietta).

Markéta Cukrová - mezzosoprano

Daniel Bambas

He was born into a family of actors on 31 March 1980 in Uherské Hradiště. Daniel graduated from The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, the Theatre Faculty, in a class taught by Boris Rösner and Eva Salzmannová. Since 2004, he has been engaged in the Vinohrady Theatre, and has been a guest on various other stages (The National Theatre Brno, Městské divadlo Mladá Boleslav, The Pod Palmovkou Theatre, The South Bohemian Theatre, 3D Company, and Indigo Company). In 2017, he won the Thalia Award for the best male performance in drama. Daniel works in TV, film, and radio productions, both as a live actor and voice over for dubbing, and records audiobooks.

Daniel Bambas - recitation

St. Agnes Convent

The Convent of St. Agnes in the 'Na Františku' neighbourhood of Prague's Old Town is considered the first Gothic structure not only in Prague but in all of Bohemia. It was founded by King Wenceslas I in 1233–34 at the instigation of his sister, the Přemyslid princess Agnes of Bohemia, for the Order of Saint Clare which Agnes introduced into Bohemia and of which she was the first abbess. The convent was preceded by a hospital. The 'Poor Clares' originated as an offshoot of the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, and the convent was at one time known as the Prague Assisi. Agnes was an outstanding figure in religious life of the thirteenth century. Besides this Clarist convent she also founded the only Czech religious order – the Hospital Order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. She was canonized in 1989.