Smetana Trio

The Smetana Trio, the numerous line-up changes notwithstanding, have been one of the finest Czech chamber ensembles ever since they were founded in 1934 by the legendary pianist Josef Páleníček. The current members have linked up to the ideals created by their predecessors, as well as the artistry of other prominent 20th-century chamber music soloists (Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Richter; Stern, Rose, Istomin). All of them are distinguished soloists in their own right, which bears witness to the fact that the fundamental precondition for a trio’s success is the top-notch quality of each player.
Jitka Čechová (piano) studied in Prague, further honed her skills with Eugen Indjic in Paris and Vitali Berzon in Freiburg and also attended master classes led by R. Kehrer in Weimer and L. Berman in Piešťany. She has won accolades in numerous international competitions. As a soloist, she has garnered acclaim throughout Europe, in South Africa, South America and Japan, and has regularly performed at festivals both in the Czech Republic and abroad (Edinburgh, Graz, Paris, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, Bodensee Festival, Prague Spring, Ticino Musica, etc.). Jitka Čechová has made a number of solo and chamber recordings for Czech and foreign labels. In 2014, she completed the Supraphon project featuring the complete Bedřich Smetana piano works (8 CDs). In 2015, she recorded with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by R. Zollman and S. Vavřínek, all three Piano Concertos and the Concertino by Josef Páleníček (the 2-CD album will be released in the spring of 2016). At the present time, she is recording for Czech Radio the complete sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti.
Jiří Vodička (violin) is one of the most renowned Czech violinists. An exceptional talent, he garnered success at numerous competitions while still a child and at the age of 14 enrolled at a university (the Institute for Arts Studies, the class of Prof. Zdeněk Gola) and also became the youngest soloist of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava. In 2008, Jiří Vodička came first from among hundreds of contestants in the European round of the prestigious Young Concert Artists competition in Leipzig and advanced to the final in New York. He has appeared with leading orchestras and been invited to significant festivals (Prague Spring, Grand Festival of China, Hohenloher Kultursommer, etc.). In the summer of 2001, upon the invitation of the celebrated violinist Gidon Kremer, he performed at the prestigious Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus in Austria. In 2010, at the age of 22, Jiří Vodička was appointed the youngest pedagogue at the Prague Conservatory. In 2014, Supraphon released his debut CD, featuring virtuoso pieces for solo violin. Since 2015, he has also served as concert master of the Czech Philharmonic.
Jan Páleníček (cello) studied with the finest 20th-century Czech cellists, Saša Večtomov and Miloš Sádlo, as well as the world-renowned French cellist Paul Tortelier, which represented the apex of his artistic maturing. He studied chamber music with this father Josef Páleníček and Josef Vlach, first violin of the legendary Vlach Quartet. Jan Páleníček has received numerous prizes at international competitions. As a soloist, he has worked with prominent Czech and foreign orchestras, and given concerts in Europe, America, Africa and Japan. He has made a number of recordings for Czech and foreign labels, radio and television, with the most acclaimed being CDs featuring sonatas by Brahms, Martinů and Rachmaninoff, and concertos by Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Haydn. Jan Páleníček taught for a number of years at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts.
The current Smetana Trio have gained great successes in the Czech Republic and abroad. Their CD containing works by Smetana, Suk and Novák (Supraphon, 2005) received awards from the journals Diapason and Le Monde de la musique, and in August 2005 was named Recording of the Month in the chamber category by BBC Music Magazine. Their 2006 Supraphon CD featuring Dvořák works was honoured by BBC Music Magazine with the title Recording of the Month (September 2006) and received the 2007 BBC Music Magazine Chamber Award and a Diapason d’Or. Highly acclaimed too is their CD (Supraphon, 2008) featuring Tchaikovsky and Dvořák pieces, which earned another BBC accolade, Chamber Recording of the Month (December 2008). In 2010, Supraphon released their CD of Mendelssohn and Schubert works. The critics above all laud the splendid solo performance qualities, brilliant technique, dynamism and perfect interplay between the ensemble’s members, even highlighting the “blood kinship of the three artists”. In June 2012 the ensemble accomplished another extensive project – a complete recording of Johannes Brahms’s trios. In 2014, Supraphon released their album of major 20th-century trios by Dmitry Shostakovich and Maurice Ravel. Their 2016 Supraphon CD featuring Martinů works was honoured by the Sunday Times with the title Album of the Week.
The Smetana Trio regularly perform at prestigious Czech venues and festivals (Prague Spring, Janáček May, Moravian Autumn, Concentus moraviae, Malá Strana Chamber Festivities) and abroad (France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Japan, Brazil, the USA, Egypt, etc.). They have worked with renowned conductors (Jiří Bělohlávek, Libor Pešek, John Axelrod, Michael Boder, Tomáš Hanus, Stanislav Vavřínek) and leading Czech and foreign orchestras (Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana Lugano, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Prague Symphony Orchestra, PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc, etc.).