The Mozart CD Recording Project
Harold Robles, president of the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities in Wallingford, USA, envisioned a project to record all the Mozart piano concertos with Christiane Engel, the granddaughter of Albert Schweitzer, as the soloist. The profit of the resulting CDs should benefit projects done in the spirit of Albert Schweitzer. Originally the idea was to do the recordings in the United States, but after a performance in Prague, Czech Republic, in July 1998 by Christiane Engel, the planned recording location was changed. Christiane Engel received a generous offer of cooperation from Michal Skampa, the founder of the Stern Orchestra Prague, and from the conductor and violinist Jiri Tomásek, to record the Mozart piano concertos with them in Prague. The recordings took place from 1999 through 2002. All the Mozart piano concertos written for one piano were recorded on 10 CDs.
Jiri Tomásek is a leading Czech violinist and conductor. He was born in 1942 in Pilsen, Czech Republic. He studied at the Prague Conservatory, and then at the Academy (AMU) under M. Hlounová and J. Suk. In 1967 he won the International Violin Competition in Vienna, Austria. His international career as a soloist and as a chamber musician, particularly as a member of the Czech Trio has taken him all over the world. He played many concerts in all European countries, recorded for Supraphon, Panton, Col Legno and Harmonia Mundi companies. He is a Professor at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts (AMU), and Visiting Professor of the International Academy Yehudi Menuhin in Gstaad and Michigan State University (USA).
The Stern Chamber Orchestra
The Stern Chamber Orchestra was founded in Prague, in 1995 from among the leading players of the Bohemia Symphony Orchestra, to fulfill the increasing demand for orchestral chamber music. Since that time the orchestra has worked under the leadership of Michal Skampa. The orchestra performs standard chamber music repertoire, especially the works of J. S. Bach, A. Vivaldi, G. F. Handel, W. A. Mozart, A. Dvorak, P. I. Tchaikowsky, as well as music of the 20th century: B. Bartok, P. Hindemith, S. Barber, and Bohuslav Martinu. The orchestra is often invited for concert tours in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Korea, and other countries. Recently an important project of cultural exchange has been initiated between the Czech Republic and Korea. The excellence of the Stern Chamber Orchestra and the Seoul Symphony Orchestra guarantees the highest artistic levels.
Words of Thanks - Christiane Engel
My deepest thanks go to the Conductor, Jiri Tomásek, and to all the members of the Stern Orchestra. Between us all there was a unique and wonderful cooperation in undertaking this idealistic project of recording all the Mozart piano concertos (for one piano) with myself as an unknown pianist in Prague. Professor Tomásek’s enthusiastic guidance was a profound inspiration to me and I was touched by the tireless efforts of the Orchestra members. I would like to extend a special thanks to our amazing music director and sound engineer, Václav Zamazal, who did a brilliant job advising us and editing our music. In addition to their beautiful performances, Michal Skampa, the concert master and Vladimir Ruzicka, the first cellist, were great in organizing the management of the recording sessions and the CD releases. Working together was always a pleasure and I am very grateful to them. Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to my husband, Steve Engel. All this could not have been accomplished without his understanding and his encouragement.
To have been able to do a bigger part of our recordings in the magnificent concert hall “Rudolfinum” gave the recordings a special spiritual atmosphere. Added to all of that, it was a great privilege to do this extraordinary musical work in the glorious, magical city of Prague - Mozart’s beloved city. The city that all along adored, admired and deeply respected him and his music. Mozart said, “It is the Bohemians who truly understand my music”.