Review of a concert during the Prague Spring festival on 28 May 2008: Václav Hudeček, Jan Páleníček and Jiří Kout

The artistic direction of this year’s Prague Spring festival dedicated an evening with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, conducted by their chief conductor Jiří Kout, to the memory of the legendary violinist David Oistrakh… On the programme were two major works by Johannes Brahms – his Double Concerto in A minor for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra, and his Fourth Symphony. The solo part in the Double Concerto could of course be played by no-one else than Oistrakh’s pupil Václav Hudeček, … while the place of the second soloist deservedly went to the cellist Jan Páleníček, holder of two recently awarded prestigious prizes (including the 2007 Music Magazine Award for the performance of the Smetana Trio, of which he is the founder). The opening recitative in the first movement of Brahms’s Double Concerto was performed by Páleníček in clear, firmly fixed tonal contours, and with a boldly terse expression … Páleníček, too, seemed to become more and more part of Brahms’s music with every bar – this was especially recognisable in the section where the pressure of insistent modulatory disintegration comes, which the cellist presented in a powerful way.
Hudební rozhledy July 2008, Miloš Pokora

“… Jan Páleníček had, restrainedly said, his red-letter day in the Dvořák Hall in the Prague Rudolfinum (…) he convinced us of his true affection for the Martinů Sonata (…) the technical mastership he showed when presenting the delicate final movement, was impressive …” Hudební rozhledy, Prague

“… Jan Páleníček embraced the Rococo variations by P.I.Čajkovskij on his CD record with a masterly certainty. He used almost a lavish spectrum of his music art …”
Hudební rozhledy, Prague

“… an outstanding feature of the Smetana Trio’s playing was the exceptional harmony of their interplay. The solo qualities of all the members of the Trio brought to the most exalted moments the impression of a single solo (…) in Beethoven’s triple concerto the Smetana Trio displayed a certainty that was the stuff of dreams in their harmonising with the sensitive accompaniment of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra …”
Fränkischer Tag-Bamberg, Germany

“… In the Brahms Sonata, Jan Páleníček brought the magnificent sound of his Albani instrument to its full flowering …”
Lidové noviny, Prague

“… Cellist Jan Páleníček had passages which presaged Dvořák’s great B Minor Concerto in expressivity and virtuoso technique …”
New Jersey, USA


“… A pleasant surprise waited for visitors of the evening chamber concert of the violoncellist Jan Páleníček and the pianist Jitka Čechová (…) right at the opening piece a scarce phenomenon of chamber interplay captivated us (…). Páleníček’s resolute presentation full of affection for the piece should be stressed. It was accompanied by intonation authenticity, when an impressive great tone blessed with splendid singing (…) the highlight from this point of view was mastering the Beethoven Sonata A major …”
Hudební rozhledy, Prague

Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra was performed in an outstanding fashion by Jan Páleníček. With consummate skill and at the same time with a sense of detachment, he sketched out the subtle differences between the individual variations and united them in a brilliantly effective whole. The applause refused to stop, and the soloist had to play one of the variations again as an encore…
Pardubické noviny 2004

His concert performances in recent years and the CD he has recorded with works by Martinů show that there is another mature maestro on the Czech violoncello scene. Jan Páleníček plays Martinů’s two sonatas and his two late variations with consummate skill, with total technical commitment and understanding, with an intense feeling for the music and an emotional force … At the same time he is sure of every phrase and every gradation of timbre … He assembles them into firm structures with great certainty … However, Jan Páleníček is not only perfect from a technical point of view, but he also interprets all four compositions with understanding, with a feel for a beautiful cantilena, but also with minute imaginative touches to convey the message of each one of them.
Hudební rozhledy, Prague

At the recital given by Jan Páleníček, accompanied by the pianist Jitka Čechová, in the Rudolfinum concert hall in Prague, the audience heard Robert Schumann’s Phantasiestücke, op. 73, and Johannes Brahms’s Sonata in E minor, op. 38. The way in which th two instruments flowed together in the brisker passages in the score, through a piece of acoustic magic, gave the impression of spontaneity, while at the same time the piano part remained a completely sure and reliable support for the instrument playing the melody. It is something like this that I would imagine the Schumanns playing together – Clara together with Robert. The music of Brahms was filled with the genuinely vigorous tone of the cello, which was particularly captivating in the lower registers; the changes between the different registers were very effective. Páleníček confirmed his understanding for Brahms’s pensive seriousness, and distributed the emotional force very well over the entire range of the sonata. To put it simply, the music continually held the attention of the listeners, for example by means of a moderately exuberant playfulness, but without any cheap playing for effects or exaggerated emotional contrasts.
Hudební rozhledy, Prague