One of the most distinguished young Czech pianists, Jan Bartoš has a
doctorate from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and a Professional
Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music. He was the last pupil of
the legendary pianist Ivan Moravec. “Jan Bartoš is one of my most impressive
and most exciting young colleagues. In Jan Bartoš, virtuosity is coupled with
deeply serious musicianship,” wrote the celebrated pianist Alfred Brendel. His
performances have earned him great critical acclaim at home and abroad alike.
Fanfare described his playing as “fascinating and absolutely riveting”,
Critica Classica characterised Bartoš as “an emotional and sophisticated
interpreter”, while Il Roma referred to him as “one of the best European
Jan Bartoš has won numerous international competitions, including three in
New York – the Mieczyslaw Munz and the Zaslavsky-Koch Competitions, and the
Peter S. Reed Award – as well as the Rotary Musikförderpreis in Nuremberg
and the Concertino Praga in the Czech Republic. Moreover, he has received
prestigious accolades and scholarships from the Czech Ministry of Culture, the
Rucorva Trust Award in the Netherlands and the Schimmel Prize in Germany. Jan
Bartoš has given concerts at prominent venues throughout Europe (the Rudolfinum
in Prague, the Mozarthaus in Vienna, the Cartoixa de Valldemossa in Mallorca,
the Villa Pignatelli in Naples, the Teatro Metropol in Tarragona, the Chopin
House in Duszniki Zdrój), in Asia and the USA (Carnegie Hall, Juilliard School,
Merkin Concert Hall, Rockefeller University in New York, Aronoff Center in
Cincinnati, the Rousell Hall in New Orleans, etc.).
Jan Bartoš’s Supraphon debut album (SU 4234–2) features
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K 466, and Piano Concerto No.
12 in A major, K 414 (“a quattro”), recorded with the Czech Philharmonic,
conducted by the late Jiří Bělohlávek (K 466), and the Doležal Quartet
(K 414). Jan Bartoš duly uncovers the deepest layers of the architecture of
and the emotions encoded in the Mozart works. The pianist guides the listener
through the ominous, demonic even, Concerto in D minor like through a mystery
story. The more joyous nature of the Concerto in A major is further highlighted
by the transparent texture of its chamber version for string quartet.
In connection with the album’s release, we asked Jan Bartoš a few
How do you perceive Mozart’s music?
A lot of people seem to perceive just one aspect of Mozart’s music,
considering it Apollonian, bright and merry. Yet it possesses all kinds of
facets, including those of a dark nature. The psychology of his pieces is
multi-layered and refined – Mozart’s music is concurrently simple and
sophisticated, subjective and objective, ironic and compassionate. I myself
regard it as a perpetual fusion of the comic and the tragic. This expressive
amplitude also characterises the two concertos featured on my album. The
Concerto in D minor possesses symphonic parameters and dark passages, it is
compendious in form. The Concerto in A major, on the other hand, sparkles with
joy and teems with musical ideas.
How do you recall working with Jiří Bělohlávek?
Jiří Bělohlávek conducted my debut performance with an orchestra– at the
beginning of June 1996, the Prague Philharmonia and I played Mozart’s Piano
Concerto in A major. Subsequently, I had the honour to work with him on an
annual basis, starting in 2013. Jiří Bělohlávek always approached music
with great humility, without asserting his own personality. He was one of the
precious few who revere the composer’s notation and fully serve the work.
I also admired his artistic probity – when, he, the Czech Philharmonic and
I were preparing a concert for the Smetana Litomyšl festival, in addition to
three rehearsals, Bělohlávek and I had two several-hour sessions at the
piano, discussing the details of the interpretation. Such an approach to music
is quite unique in this day and age. In early June, he conducted a performance
the Prague Philharmonia and I gave of Bohuslav Martinů’s Double Concerto at
the festival in Polička. That was three weeks before Jiří Bělohlávek passed
away, his very last concert. I will for ever be grateful to him, for his
support and for that which he has taught me.