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The Smetana Trio: From the Czech Republic

  • Samuel M. Ciccati Theatre, Cuyamaca College 900 Rancho San Diego Pkwy El Cajon, CA, 92019 (map)


Trio élégiaque No.1 in G minor

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 - 1943)

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32

Anton Arensky (1861 - 1906)

Allegro moderato

Scherzo: Allegro molto

Elegia: Adagio

Finale: Allegro non troppo


Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15

Bedrich Smetana (1824 - 1884)

Moderato assai

Allegro, ma non agitato - Andante - Maestoso - Tempo I

Finale. Presto

The Smetana Trio

The Smetana Trio, founded in 1934 by the legendary Czech pianist Josef Pálenícek, violinist Alexandr Plocek and cellist František Smetana, is today’s foremost Czech chamber ensemble. Currently comprised of Jitka Cechová (piano), Radim Kresta(violin), and Jan Pálenícek (cello), the Smetana perpetuates the interpretational ideals created by its illustrious predecessors as well as other superlative 20th-century soloists active in chamber music. “There is nothing routine about the Smetana Trio’s approach to this engaging repertoire. Every aspect of their interpretation is carefully considered without losing an ounce of spontaneity. Individual lines are remarkable for their focus and beauty, though the powerful sense of ensemble is never sacrificed to individual display.”  - BBC Music Magazine

Following a triumphant, multi-city North American tour in the 2017-2018 season, the Smetana Trio returns to the United States in spring 2019 with programs including piano trios by Rachmaninoff, Martinů,Dvořák, Novak, and Smetana.  Highlights from this tour include performances at the University of Oregon, Friends of Chamber Music Vancouver, and Queen’s University in Ontario. Overseas, the Trio embarks on several European tours with performances throughout the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the United Kingdom, where the Trio is presented by London’s Wigmore Hall. 

The Smetana Trio has toured extensively in both chamber ensemble and as orchestral soloists, working with conductors such as Jirí Belohlávek, Libor Pešek, John Axelrod, Michael Boder, Tomáš Hanus and Stanislav Vavrínek and orchestras such as the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana Lugano, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Philharmonic, Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice and Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc. Festivals and concert series include Cambrai, Aix-en-Provence and Nice in France, and Munich, Würzburg and Tübingen in Germany. In 2015 the Smetana Trio toured South America with performances in Lima, Medellin, Rio de Janeiro as well as the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra.  

With an impressive discography of nearly a dozen albums recorded exclusively for Supraphon since 2000, the group’s recordings include an album featuring the complete piano trios of Shostakovich and Ravel, and an all-Dvořák disc which received BBC Music Magazine’s Chamber Award for 2007 and the French Diapason d'Or. Additional discs include works by Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Schubert. In spring 2017, the Smetana Trio was voted to win the BBC Music Magazine Chamber Award for its recording of the complete trios by Bohuslav Martinů, released by Supraphon Records in March 2015. The acclaimed recording received such recognition as BBC Music Magazine’sJune 2016 Recording of the Month, Sunday TimesRecording of the Week, Diapason d'Oraward, and a review on theArtsDesk.comopining “this is the greatest chamber disc I’ve heard in ages, and I can’t imagine a better introduction to Martinů's music.”

Jitka Čechová


Jitka Čechová (piano) completed her piano studies at Prague Conservatory under Jan Novotný and continued at the Academy of Performing Arts under Peter Toperczer. She completed her postgraduate studies under Eugen Indjic in Paris and Vitali Berzon in Freiburg, and took master classes under Rudolf Kehrer in Weimar, and Eugen Indjic and Lazar Berman in Piešťany. 

She has been the laureate of numerous international competitions and the subject of critical acclaim as a soloist in many European countries as well as in South Africa, South America and Japan.

She performs regularly on prestigious international stages and festivals both at home and abroad (Edinburgh, Graz, Paris, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, the Bodensee Festival, Prague Spring, Ticino Musica etc.). For Jitka Čechová, chamber music is one of the essential elements of her musical identity. She has made a number of solo and chamber recordings for Czech and international labels. In 2014 she finished a large project of the complete piano works by Bedřich Smetana for Supraphon (8 CDs). Presently she is realizing the new recording project of the Czech Radio – the complete sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. In the spring 2016 will be released the new CD of the complete 3 piano concertos and Concertino by Josef Páleníček with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by R. Zollman and S. Vavrinek. 

Radim Kresta


Radim Kresta (violin) studied at the Conservatory in Brno under Prof. Bohumil Kotmel Senior and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under the direction of Prof. Václav Snítil. During his studies at the Academy of Performing Arts he also attended private lessons given by Kogan’s pupil Valery Gradow in Mannheim. After successfully completing his studies at the Academy in Prague he studied privately under the American soloist and concertmaster Emi Ohi Resnick in Amsterdam. He also attended master classes for soloists given by Václav Hudeček, Pinchas Zukerman, Felix Andrievsky, and Semion Yaroshevich, and master classes in chamber music given by Jindřich Pazdera (the Stamic Quartet), the Artemis Quartet, Ralf Gothóni, Jacques Ammon, and others.

The orchestras Radim Kresta has performed with as a soloist include the Berg Chamber Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonia, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, and the Pavel Haas Chamber Orchestra.
He has also worked with these orchestras as concertmaster and artistic director. During the 2014/15 cycle of subscription concerts by the Czech Philharmonic, he was invited to take up the post of guest concertmaster of this most famous Czech orchestra.
In competitions for soloists he has been awarded, for example, the Austrian “Prix Mercure” (second prize) in 1996, honorary mention in the “Prague Spring 1997” competition, and the prize of the Czech Music Fund Foundation.
In 2006 he formed a piano trio, at that time known as the Taras Piano Trio, with which he won first prizes at the Johannes Brahms Wettbewerb in Austria in 2007, the Premio Rovere d’Oro in Italy in 2008, and the Val Tidone Competitions in 2010.

Since the second half of 2012 this ensemble has performed as a piano quartet, and in this formation has achieved further outstanding successes in the form of first prize at two international competitions – at the Concorso Salieri-Zinetti in Verona in May 2013, and at the ACM Premio Trio di Trieste (one of the most prestigious competitions in this field) in September 2013. Since 2013 the ensemble has performed under the new name Josef Suk Piano Quartet (in memory of the famous 20th-century violin virtuoso Josef Suk Junior), and continues to achieve success both in the Czech Republic and internationally, for example being awarded the prize of the Czech Chamber Music Society for the best chamber ensemble in 2014, and receiving outstanding critical reviews in the prestigious British newspaper “The Guardian”, in “Gramophone”, on MusicWeb International, and elsewhere.
In 2018 Radim Kresta became a new member of the renowned ensemble the Smetana Trio.
Since 2011 Radim Kresta has also been teaching violin at the Prague Conservatory.

Jan Páleníček


Jan Páleníček (cello) studied at the Conservatory and the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague under Saša Večtomov and Miloš Sádlo. Close contacts with Paul Tortelier, the world-famous French cellist, made for a happy culmination to his early development. He studied chamber music under his father, Josef Páleníček, and in the class of Josef Vlach – first violin in the legendary Vlach Quartet.

Participation in international competitions has brought Jan Páleníček numerous awards. As a soloist he plays regularly with leading Czech and international orchestras, including the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra Ostrava, the Lugano Festival Orchestra (Switzerland), the Suk Chamber Orchestra, the Hradec Králové Symphony Orchestra, the Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, the Brno State Philharmonic, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (Germany), the Prague Philharmonia, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc, and the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic-Durban (South Africa).

His concert tours have taken him not only to numerous Europe countries, but to America, Africa and Japan as well. He has made numerous recordings for both Czech and internationals labels, and for radio and television. His recordings of the sonatas of Brahms, Martinů, and Rachmaninov and the concertos of Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Haydn have been exceptionally well received. For a number of years he taught at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.