The Smetana Trio, founded in the year 1934 by the legendary Czech pianist Josef Páleníček, the violinist Alexandr Plocek and the cellist František Smetana, is today one of the foremost Czech ensembles. The Smetana Trio Celebrated Ten Years of Its New Incarnation in 2010. The current members Jitka Čechová (piano), Jana Vonášková-Nováková (violin) and Jan Páleníček (cello) link up to the interpretational ideals created by their illustrious predecessors, as well as other superlative 20th-century soloists active in the area of chamber music (Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Richter, Stern, Rose, Istomin).
Today’s members of the Smetana Trio – all three of whom distinguished Czech soloists in their own right – also prove that the precondition for every first-class trio’s success is perfect soloist mastery of the respective players. Upon organisers’ request, from time to time they enhance their trio performances with solo numbers, in the glorious original tradition of this chamber ensemble.
The Smetana Trio has recently garnered remarkable acclaim, it can be seen frequently on leading concert stages both in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring, Janáček May, Moravian Autumn, Concentus moraviae, Malá Strana Chamber Festivities) and abroad (France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Japan, Brazil). The Smetana Trio works with leading conductors – Jiří Bělohlávek, Libor Pešek, John Axelrod, Michael Boder, Tomáš Hanus, Stanislav Vavřínek – and Czech and foreign orchestras, including, for example the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana Lugano, the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonic, the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc.
The Smetana Trio has made a number of recordings for Czech and international labels and has recorded regularly for Supraphon since 2000. This cooperation has brought a number of prestigious awards both at home and abroad – e.g. a CD with works by Smetana, Suk and Novák (Supraphon 2005) received prestigious awards from the French magazines Diapason and Le Monde de la musique. This recording was also chosen by the British BBC Music Magazine as its chamber music recording of the month in August 2005. Another Smetana Trio recording, this time works by Dvořák (Supraphon 2006), was again voted by the BBC Music Magazine as the best recording of the month in September 2006 and later received the BBC Music Magazine Chamber Award for 2007 and also the prestigious French Diapason D’Or. The recording of trios by Tchaikovsky and Dvořák (Supraphon 2008) received the BBC Chamber recording of the month in December 2008. The most recent Supraphon recording, released in 2010, is a CD with works by Mendelssohn and Schubert. The critics praise the “remarkable soloist qualities and brilliant technique, the dynamism of performance, perfection of interplay…” etc. They even speak of “the three artists’ kinship of blood”.
The Smetana Trio has recently made several triumphant foreign tours – last December it toured France, performing 7 times with John Axelrod and the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire to a tumultuous response and great ovations a programme made by Beethoven and Schumann. Of late, they have also appeared as guests in festivals and concert series in Cambrai, Aix en Provence and Nice in France and München, Würzburg and Tübingen in Germany. In year 2011 the Smetana Trio is invited to its tour in the USA, Brazil, UK, France, Switzerland, Italy and Egypt.