The Smetana Trio, founded in 1934 by the legendary Czech pianist Josef Páleníček, is one of the very finest Czech chamber ensembles. Its current members have linked up to the ideal created by their predecessors, as well as the artistry of towering 20th-century chamber music figures (Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Richter, Stern, Rose, Istomin). Today’s Smetana Trio members – all of them also distinguished Czech soloists – serve to prove that the basic precondition for high-quality ensembles’ success is their being made up of players excelling as solo performers too.
Jitka Čechová (piano) received her initial training in Bohemia, following which she went on to study as a postgraduate with E. Indjic in Paris and V. Berzon in Freiburg, and attended masterclasses led by R. Kehrer in Weimar and L. Berman in Piešťany, Slovakia. She has garnered numerous accolades at international competitions. A critically acclaimed soloist, she has performed at concerts throughout Europe, in South Africa, Latin America and Japan. Furthermore, she has regularly appeared as festivals in the Czech Republic and further afield (Edinburgh, Graz, Paris, Frankfurt, Baden–Baden, Bodensee, Prague Spring, Ticino Musica, etc.). She has made a number of solo and chamber music recordings for Czech and foreign labels. In 2014, she completed a Supraphon project featuring all Bedřich Smetana piano pieces (8 CDs). In 2015, she and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by R. Zollman and S. Vavřínek, recorded all the three concertos and the concertino by Josef Páleníček. Moreover, Jitka Čechová and other pianists have recorded for Czech Radio the complete Domenico Scarlatti sonatas.
Jan Talich (violin) is known nowadays an exceptional figure not only on the Czech cultural scene, but also internationally recognised. In his rich career he is able to connect, at the highest level, his knowledge and experiences of several professions. He performs as a soloist, chamber player, conductor and pedagogue the world-over. His longest path has been that of his solo career. Whilst still at the Prague Academy he won the both national and international competitions (Zagreb 89). These helped him begin his solo career, which lasts until today. He has performed with piano partners such as Itamar Golan, Gottlieb Wallish, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Jean Bernard Pommier. For 5 years, he was a member of the Kubelík Trio, with whom he recorded the complete Czech writings for piano trio. He left to take up the post of first violinist of the Talich Quartet.
Jan Páleníček (cello) studied with S. Večtomov and M. Sádlo, the most distinguished 20th-century Czech cellists, and rounded off his education with the globally celebrated French virtuoso Paul Tortelier. He studied chamber music with his father, Josef Páleníček, and with Josef Vlach, the first violin of the legendary Vlach Quartet. Jan Páleníček has received numerous prizes at international competitions. As a soloist, he has performed with prominent Czech and foreign orchestras, and made tours of Europe, the Americas, Africa and Japans. He has made recordings for Czech and foreign labels, radio stations and televisions. Highly acclaimed are his albums of sonatas by J. Brahms, B. Martinů, S. Rachmaninov and concertos by A. Dvořák, P. I. Tchaikovsky, J. Brahms and J. Haydn. For a number of years, Jan Páleníček taught at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
The Smetana Trio have regularly appeared at concert venues and festivals in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring, Janáček May, Moravian Autumn, Concentus moraviae, Malá Strana Chamber Music Festivities) and other countries (France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Japan, South America, the USA, Egypt, and elsewhere).They have worked with renowned conductors, including Jiří Bělohlávek, Libor Pešek, John Axelrod, Michael Boder, Tomáš Hanus and Stanislav Vavřínek, and with leading Czech and foreign orchestras, among them the Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana Lugano, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic and Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc.