March concert program

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CONCERT PROGRAM

MARCH 2019 FA N TA SY A N D T H E F I R E B I R D

B R U C H ’ S V I O L I N C O N C E R TO

SEASON OPENING GALA

MAHLER 10


Verdi's Requiem 1 1 A P R I L , 7.30 P M | 1 3 A P R I L , 2 P M

Arts Centre Melbourne HAMER HALL

Lawrence Renes C O N D U C TO R

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B O O K N OW M S O.C O M . AU white


CONTENTS

05 10 18 22 32

THE MELBOURNE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Your MSO Guest musicians .FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD Friday 8 March | 7.30pm Melbourne Town Hall

BRUCH’S VIOLIN CONCERTO Friday 15 March | 11am Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

SEASON OPENING GALA Saturday 16 March | 7.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

MAHLER 10: LETTERS & READINGS Thursday 21 March | 7.30pm Saturday 23 March | 2pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Friday 22 March | 7.30pm Costa Hall, Geelong

In consideration of your fellow patrons, the MSO thanks you for silencing and dimming the light on your phone.

mso.com.au

(03) 9929 9600



Our Artistic Family

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Established in 1906, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is an arts leader and Australia’s oldest professional orchestra. Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis has been at the helm of MSO since 2013. Engaging more than four million people each year, the MSO reaches a variety of audiences through live performances, recordings, TV and radio broadcasts and live streaming.

The MSO performs a variety of concerts ranging from core classical performances at its home, Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne, to its annual free concerts at Melbourne’s largest outdoor venue, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The MSO also delivers innovative and engaging programs and digital tools to audiences of all ages through its Education and Outreach initiatives.

As a truly global orchestra, the MSO collaborates with guest artists and arts organisations from across the world. Its international audiences include China, where MSO has performed in 2012, 2016 and again in 2018, Europe (2014) and Indonesia, where in 2017 it performed at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prambanan Temple.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land on which we perform and would like to pay our respects to their Elders and Community both past and present.

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Your MSO

Your MSO

Sir Andrew Davis Chief Conductor

Benjamin Northey Associate Conductor Anthony Pratt#

Tianyi Lu

Cybec Assistant Conductor

Hiroyuki Iwaki

Conductor Laureate (1974–2006)

FIRST VIOLINS Dale Barltrop Concertmaster

Sophie Rowell

Concertmaster The Ullmer Family Foundation#

Peter Edwards

Assistant Principal

Kirsty Bremner Sarah Curro

Michael Aquilina#

Peter Fellin Deborah Goodall Lorraine Hook Anne-Marie Johnson Kirstin Kenny Ji Won Kim Eleanor Mancini Chisholm & Gamon#

Mark Mogilevski Michelle Ruffolo Kathryn Taylor Michael Aquilina#

SECOND VIOLINS

CELLOS

Matthew Tomkins

David Berlin

Robert Macindoe

Rachael Tobin

Monica Curro

Nicholas Bochner

Principal The Gross Foundation# Associate Principal

Assistant Principal Danny Gorog and Lindy Susskind#

Mary Allison Isin Cakmakcioglu Tiffany Cheng Freya Franzen Cong Gu Andrew Hall Isy Wasserman Philippa West Patrick Wong Roger Young VIOLAS Christopher Moore

Principal MS Newman Family# Associate Principal Assistant Principal Anonymous*

Miranda Brockman

Geelong Friends of the MSO#

Rohan de Korte

Andrew Dudgeon#

Keith Johnson Sarah Morse Angela Sargeant Maria Solà#

Michelle Wood

Michael Aquilina# Andrew and Theresa Dyer#

DOUBLE BASSES Steve Reeves Principal

Principal Di Jameson#

Andrew Moon

Lauren Brigden Katharine Brockman Christopher Cartlidge

Sylvia Hosking

Michael Aquilina#

Anthony Chataway

Dr Elizabeth E Lewis AM#

Gabrielle Halloran Maria Solà#

Trevor Jones Fiona Sargeant Cindy Watkin Elizabeth Woolnough

Associate Principal Assistant Principal

Damien Eckersley Benjamin Hanlon Suzanne Lee Stephen Newton Sophie Galaise and Clarence Fraser#

FLUTES Prudence Davis Principal Anonymous#

Wendy Clarke

Associate Principal

Sarah Beggs

Sophia Yong-Tang#

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Your MSO

PICCOLO Andrew Macleod

HORNS

PERCUSSION**

Nicolas Fleury

Robert Clarke

Saul Lewis

John Arcaro

Abbey Edlin

Robert Cossom

Trinette McClimont Rachel Shaw

HARP

Principal John McKay and Lois McKay#

Principal

OBOES

Acting Associate Principal

Jeffrey Crellin

Nereda Hanlon and Michael Hanlon AM#

Principal

Thomas Hutchinson Associate Principal

Ann Blackburn

The Rosemary Norman Foundation#

COR ANGLAIS

TRUMPETS

CLARINETS

William Evans Rosie Turner

David Thomas

Philip Arkinstall

Associate Principal

TROMBONES Brett Kelly

BASS CLARINET

Tim and Lyn Edward#

Richard Shirley

Jon Craven

Mike Szabo

Principal

Principal Bass Trombone

BASSOONS

TUBA

Elise Millman

Associate Principal

Natasha Thomas CONTRABASSOON

Principal

John and Diana Frew#

Principal

Jack Schiller

Yinuo Mu

Associate Principal

Craig Hill

Principal

Drs Clem Gruen and Rhyl Wade#

Principal

Shane Hooton

Principal

Tim and Lyn Edward#

Owen Morris

Michael Pisani

Principal

Principal

Timothy Buzbee

Principal

TIMPANI** Christopher Lane

Principal

Brock Imison Principal

# Position supported by ** Timpani Chair position supported by Lady Potter AC CMRI

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Guest Musicians

Guest Musicians FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March Vesa-Matti Leppänen^

Isabel Morse

Paula Rae

Harry Bennetts

Katie Yap

Rebecca Luton

Zoe Knighton

Ian Wildsmith

Mee Na Lojewski

Tristan Rebien

guest concertmaster

guest assistant concertmaster

Aaron Barnden violin

William Grigg violin

Oksana Thompson violin

viola viola cello cello

Zoe Wallace cello

flute

horn horn

guest associate principal trumpet

Christine Turpin

Alexandra Giller

timpani

Vivian Qu Siyuan

percussion

Merewyn Bramble

Emma Sullivan

piano/celeste

Matthew Laing

Esther Toh

Susannah Ng violin

Nicholas Waters violin viola viola

double bass double bass

Timothy Hook Donald Nicolson

double bass double bass

BRUCH’S VIOLIN CONCERTO | 15 March SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March Harry Bennetts

William Clark

Ian Wildsmith

Aaron Barnden

Ceridwen Davies

Christine Turpin

Madeleine Jevons

Isabel Morse

Timothy Hook

Kylie Davies

Conrad Nilsson

guest assistant concertmaster violin violin

Michael Loftus-Hills violin

Oksana Thompson violin

Nicholas Waters violin

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viola viola viola

double bass

Vivian Qu Siyuan double bass

Rachel Curkpatrick oboe

horn

timpani

percussion percussion


Harry Bennetts

Ceridwen Davies

Rachel Curkpatrick

Aaron Barnden

Isabel Morse

Andrew Fong

viola

clarinet

Zoe Knighton

Colin Forbes-Abrams

cello

contrabassoon

Michael Loftus-Hills

Kylie Davies

Ian Wildsmith

Nicholas Waters

Rob Nairn

William Clark

Vivian Qu Siyuan

guest assistant concertmaster violin

Madeleine Jevons violin violin violin viola

viola

double bass

Guest Musicians

MAHLER 10: LETTERS & READINGS | 21–23 March oboe

horn

double bass double bass

Information correct as of 26 February 2019 ^ Appears courtesy of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

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Fantasy and the Firebird 8 March 2019 | 7.30pm Melbourne Town Hall Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Benjamin Northey conductor Jacqueline Porter soprano Kristian Chong piano GRIEG Peer Gynt Suite No.1: Morning Mood [4'] Peer Gynt: Solveig’s Song [5'] Peer Gynt Suite No.1: In the Hall of the Mountain King [3'] RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini [22'] — INTERVAL — KATS-CHERNIN Dance of the Paper Umbrellas [5'] RACHMANINOV Vocalise, Op.34 No.14 STRAVINSKY The Firebird: Suite (1919 version)

Running time: approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes including interval. Timings listed are approximate.

[6'] [23']


Jacqueline Porter

Benjamin Northey is Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Associate Conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Jacqueline Porter holds an honours degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor of Arts (Italian) from the University of Melbourne, and was the recipient of the 2010 Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust Scholarship.

conductor

Northey appears regularly as guest conductor with all major Australian symphony orchestras, Opera Australia (Turandot, L’elisir d’amore, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Carmen), New Zealand Opera (Sweeney Todd) and State Opera South Australia (La sonnambula, Les contes d’Hoffmann). His international appearances include concerts with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. An Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, his awards include the 2010 Melbourne Prize Outstanding Musician’s Award and multiple awards for his numerous recordings with ABC Classics.

soprano

FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

Benjamin Northey

Jacqueline appears regularly with Australia’s major symphony orchestras and choral societies, and has worked with celebrated conductors including Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis and Oleg Caetani. Her recitals and concerts are frequently broadcast on ABC Classic FM. Jacqueline has performed Mahler’s Symphony No.4 and Faure’s Requiem with the MSO; St. Matthew Passion and Mozart Requiem for Melbourne Bach Choir; Judas Maccabeus (Heidelberg Choral Society) and an Art Song recital with Aura Go at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Her opera roles include Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro) and Despina (Così fan tutte) for Victorian Opera, and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) for State Opera South Australia.

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FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

Program Notes EDVARD GRIEG

(1843–1907)

Excerpts from Peer Gynt, Op.23 Morning Mood Solveig’s Song (Jacqueline Porter soprano)

Kristian Chong piano

One of Australia's leading pianists, Kristian Chong has performed throughout Australia, the UK, and Asia, as well as France, USA and Zimbabwe. His wide-ranging performance schedule finds him equally at home as concerto soloist, chamber musician and recitalist. He has appeared with orchestras across Australia and in the UK, New Zealand and China with conductors such as Werner Andreas Albert, Andrey Boreyko, Jessica Cottis, Fabian Russell, Marcus Stenz and Marco Zuccarini. Recent performance highlights have included Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto with the Sydney Symphony, Ravel's Left Hand Concerto with the Australian Youth Orchestra and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, and Saint-Saëns’ Second Piano Concerto with the MSO. Kristian studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Piers Lane and Christopher Elton, and earlier with Stephen McIntyre at the University of Melbourne where Kristian currently teaches piano and chamber music. His competition successes include the Symphony Australia Young Performers Award (keyboard) and the Australian National Piano Award.

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In the Hall of the Mountain King It was Ibsen himself who asked Grieg in 1874 to write the music for a revised and staged version of his poetical drama Peer Gynt. Grieg’s discovery of Norwegian folklore, which gives Peer Gynt so much of its distinctive character, added a new adventurousness to his harmonic and rhythmic language, by comparison with his early music, which had been formed largely by his orientation towards Danish culture. While remaining accessibly based in the world of Romantic musical nationalism, Grieg baptised Norwegian folksong and dance as ‘art music’, paving the way for later composers (including Australia’s Percy Grainger) to take on the idiom. The central character, Peer, is reckless, irresponsible, boastful, and a storyteller full of imagination. He lives with his aged mother, Åse, until he elopes with an heiress, Ingrid, on her wedding day, because Solveig spurns him. Deserting Ingrid, Peer becomes an outlaw, and in the mountains meets the daughter of the Troll King. Peer rejects her father’s demand that, to marry her, he become a Troll. He is attacked by the Trolls, and saved only by the sound of church bells which puts them to flight. Hiding in a hut in the wood, he is found by the gentle Solveig, who loves him. But he cannot stay with her until he has cast off the load of his past. Peer goes to his mother, who is dying, and ‘rides her into heaven’. Then he is off again, to adventures in America, Morocco and Egypt, lasting


Morning Mood The Prelude to Act IV, for all the travelogue associations its immense popularity has given it, is intended to evoke sun breaking, not on Norwegian fjords and mountains, but on the Sahara desert where Peer’s adventures have taken him. Solveig’s Song In the score prepared for publication by Halvorsen in 1908, after Grieg’s death,

a version of Solveig’s Song made by Grieg for the orchestral suite first appears in Act III as a purely orchestral piece, depicting Solveig’s happiness at having found Peer. The first sung version occurs in Act IV. Solveig, now a middle-aged woman, but still living in the hut Peer built for her, sings as she spins. The simple minor/ major melody is one of Grieg’s few direct borrowings from Norwegian folk music. ‘The whole song,’ wrote Grieg, ‘must be kept in the style of a folksong.’

FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

a quarter of a century. When he returns home, he is older, but no wiser nor more truthful than before, though he still believes he has lived with truth to himself. Death comes to claim him, because he has never lived according to his true self; but in the search for one more chance to redeem himself, Peer finds Solveig, now old and blind. She has waited for his return, and affirms that Peer has indeed lived as himself, in her faith, hope and love. At the end, she cradles him in her arms and sings him to rest.

In the Hall of the Mountain King Grotesquery and power depict the King, surrounded by Troll courtiers and witches. There is uproar in the underground palace as the Trolls set on Peer to slay him. © David Garrett The MSO first performed excerpts from Peer Gynt (Suite No.1) on 21–23 July 1941 under Sir Bernard Heinze, and most recently in April 2017 with Benjamin Northey.

Solveig’s Song Translation Kanske vil der gå både Vinter og Vår, og næste Sommer med, og det hele År, men engang vil du komme, det ved jeg vist; og jeg skal nok vente, for det lovte jeg sidst.

The winter may thaw and the spring may pass by, and summer days may fade, and the whole year die. But one day you will come back, I know in my heart. And I shall still be waiting, as I promised from the start.

Gud styrke dig, hvor du i Verden går, Gud glæde dig, hvis du for hans Fodskammel står! Her skal jeg vente, til du kommer igjen; og venter du hist oppe, vi træffes der, min Ven.

May God give you strength, whatever your fate. God give you joy and comfort, if you stand at his gate! I am waiting here, till you come back, my friend; And if you wait with Him, I shall meet you in the end. English translation © May-Brit Akerholt

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FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

SERGEI RACHMANINOV

(1873–1943)

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43 Kristian Chong piano On leaving Russia for good in 1917, Rachmaninov descended into a composerly silence. While he busied himself with his self-appointed task of acquiring a concert pianist’s repertoire to earn a steady income, he ceased composing altogether. During his first season in the USA, he gave 40 concerts in four months. But he gradually reduced his concert commitments until, in 1925, he had nine months free of performances. During this period he composed his first postRussian pieces, Three Russian Songs for Chorus and Orchestra, which were well received, and the Piano Concerto No.4, which was greeted with widespread indifference after its 1927 debut. Rachmaninov, sensitive about his own music, did not produce another work for four years. When the Variations on a Theme of Corelli for solo piano appeared in 1931, they indicated that a large-scale variation structure might serve Rachmaninov’s musical needs better than the more traditional concerto structure in which success had so recently eluded him. The Corelli Variations might be thought of as the moodier, introspective dress rehearsal for the work: the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, based on Paganini’s celebrated 24th Caprice.

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The Rhapsody attained an instant popularity that has never waned. Rachmaninov finally had a new ‘concerto’ to play, and was asked to do so frequently. The work has wit, charm, a clear sense of colour, strong rhythmic impetus and a dashing, suitably fiendish solo part that translates Paganini’s legendary virtuosity into a completely different musical context.

In the Rhapsody, Rachmaninov seems to grasp the big picture and distil a sense of unity, from variation to variation, that he does not achieve in the more extended forms of the Fourth Concerto. Yet the Rhapsody’s theme and 24 variations actually behave like a fourmovement work. Variations 1 to 11 form a quick first movement with cadenza; Variations 12 to 15 supply the equivalent of a scherzo/minuet; Variations 16 to 18, the slow movement; and the final six variations, the dashing finale. We actually hear the first variation – a skeletal march that evokes Paganini’s bony frame – before the theme itself. The ensuing variations are increasingly animated until Variation 7 gives us a first glimpse, on the piano, of the Dies irae chant from the requiem mass which features prominently in Rachmaninov’s output, and appears again in brazen octaves on the piano in Variation 10. In the celebrated 18th Variation, Rachmaninov uses his sleight of hand to turn Paganini’s theme upside down and create a luxuriant, much admired melody of his own. Rachmaninov is reported to have said of it: ‘This one is for my agent.’ The six final variations evoke Paganini’s legendary left-hand pizzicato playing (Variation 19) and the demonic aspects of the Paganini legend, with more references to the Dies irae and an increasing emphasis on pianistic and orchestral virtuosity in the last two variations. Just as a final violent outburst of the Dies irae seems to be leading us to a furious crash-bang coda, we are left instead with a nudge and a wink, as Rachmaninov’s final masterpiece for piano and orchestra bids us a sly farewell. Abridged from a note by Phillip Sametz © 2000 The MSO first performed Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on 17 October 1947 under Sir Bernard Heinze and with soloist Eunice Gardiner, and most recently in June 2016 with Sir Andrew Davis and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.


Dance of the Paper Umbrellas One of Australia’s most popular and prolific composers, Elena Kats-Chernin was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and studied in Moscow, Sydney and Hanover. She has written works across nearly every genre and her music featured at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. She is the recipient of many awards and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in January 2019. Her best-known pieces are Eliza Aria from her score for Meryl Tankard’s ballet Wild Swans, and Russian Rag, both of which served as theme tunes for Late Night Live on ABC Radio National for many years. Russian Rag was also used in the 2009 claymation film Mary and Max by Academy Award-winning Australian director Adam Elliot. She was the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s 2017 Composer in Residence. Dance of the Paper Umbrellas (2013) was commissioned by the Hush Foundation for The Magic Island, volume 13 in their CD series. The composer has written of her inspiration: The idea for this piece started when I visited the leukaemia ward at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and witnessed the wonderful work carried out by Dr Catherine Crock and her team. It was a moving experience that was still with me a few days later when I sat at my piano. I wondered what kind of piece I could write that would be uplifting. I wanted to enter the world of magic and possibilities. I imagined a cake adorned with multicoloured umbrellas. A dance formed in my head, starting with a pattern in harp, marimba, plucked strings and flutes. Elena Kats-Chernin © 2013 The MSO first performed Dance of the Paper Umbrellas on 1 June 2015, and most recently on 7 September 2018 with Circus Oz, both under Benjamin Northey.

SERGEI RACHMANINOV Vocalise, Op.34, No.14 Jacqueline Porter soprano ‘I understand now why God allowed me to live to the age of 70: it was so that I should have the chance to hear His greatest creation – Nezhdanova.’ Such was George Bernard Shaw’s praise for Antonina Nezhdanova (1873–1950) and her soprano voice. Perhaps an even more eloquent tribute to Nezhdanova is the music created for her: roles such as Parasya in Mussorgsky’s Sorochintsky Fair or the title character in Rachmaninov’s Francesca da Rimini, and of course his most famous song, Vocalise.

FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

ELENA KATS-CHERNIN

(1873–1943)

Rachmaninov’s achievements in composing operas, choral music and songs were overshadowed by the enormous popularity of his solo piano and orchestral works. It is not surprising that his most popular song was essentially instrumental. His Vocalise is the last in a set of 14 songs, Op.34 (1912–15), the other 13 being settings of poems by some of the greatest Russian Romantics. Despite his elegant and effective responses to these texts, the final ‘song without words’ has eclipsed them all with its enduring appeal. Without syllabic constraints, Rachmaninov’s melodic imagination is free to roam where it will. By the time he came to compose the Op.34 songs, he was well into his mature creative period, producing vocal music of particular beauty, with simple yet striking accompaniments for the piano. The Vocalise is no exception, as the melody, built out of an easily-identified motif, spins itself out in endless variation over the course of the piece. Tonight we hear Rachmaninov’s own arrangement for voice and orchestra. Adapted from an annotation by Drew Crawford © Symphony Australia The only previous performance by the MSO of Vocalise took place on 14 February 1961, with conductor Clive Douglas and soprano June Barton.

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FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

IGOR STRAVINSKY

(1882–1971)

The Firebird: Suite (1919) Introduction – The Firebird and her Dance – Variation of the Firebird The Princesses’ Round (Khorovod) Infernal Dance of King Kashchei Berceuse Finale The Russian fairy-tale world was irresistibly exotic to European audiences in the early 20th century, so for the 1910 Paris season of the Ballets Russes, artistic director Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Anatoly Liadov to compose a score to Mikhail Fokine’s scenario and choreography. When Liadov failed to deliver, Diaghilev turned to the 28-year-old Stravinsky. The ballet would be the largest single piece composed by Stravinsky to date, and would require what the composer in retrospect derided as ‘descriptive’ music, composed to a scenario not of his choosing, and with a deadline that was frighteningly close. But such things concentrate the mind wonderfully, and in The Firebird, Stravinsky emerges as a major composer of the 20th century, while bringing to a radiant close the Russian Romantic tradition. Fokine’s original scenario for the ballet brings together characters from three strands of Russian folklore: the Firebird – a phoenix; Kashchei the Deathless, a demon attended by monsters, who abducts maidens and turns knights to stone; and Ivan Tsarevich, who personifies a nationalist, indeed imperial, heroism.

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The story begins in the enchanted forest that surrounds Kashchei’s castle. The Introduction begins in the sepulchral depths of the orchestra,

rising to fluttering wind figurations and a fragmentary, plaintive oboe solo. The Firebird’s dance, as she enters pursued by Ivan Tsarevich, is a spritely waltz clothed in brilliant orchestral colour that dissolves into scurrying flute textures as Ivan captures her. The Firebird begs for her freedom and promises to come to his aid should he ever require it; as a token of her promise she gives him a plume from her tail. Moving deeper into the forest, Ivan finds himself in the garden of Kashchei’s castle. Thirteen princesses appear and play a game with golden apples; Ivan, enchanted by the thirteenth princess’s beauty, reveals his presence and they all perform a stately round-dance (Khorovod) to a Russian folk-tune. Kashchei’s monsters appear, capturing Ivan as Kashchei arrives. The monsters attempt to turn Ivan to stone in the face of the princesses’ pleas for mercy. Ivan summons the Firebird, who casts a spell on the monsters. An exhilarating Infernal Dance to acrobatic trumpet calls, woodwind trills and clattering xylophones follows. The Firebird dances a Berceuse, or lullaby, putting Kashchei and the monsters into a magic sleep and telling Ivan that he must destroy the egg in which Kashchei keeps his soul. As Kashchei awakes, Ivan does so, thus destroying the evil demon and plunging his world into profound darkness. In the single-movement finale, a long-breathed melody passed from solo horn through the full orchestra announces the destruction of evil and the reawakening of the knights whom Kashchei had turned to stone. Ivan, naturally, marries the thirteenth princess in music of great ecstasy. Adapted from a note by Gordon Kerry © 2009/2013 The MSO first performed the suite from The Firebird on 25 July 1944 under the direction of Eugene Ormandy. Most recently, in October 2018, the Orchestra performed the complete ballet under Jukka-Pekka Saraste.


MSO Patron AND SHARE YOUR ORCHESTRA WITH THE WORLD! Donors who give generously of $1,000 and more annually are recognised publicly as MSO Patrons. The Orchestra values and encourages this support for a bright, developing and innovative future. Belong to this group of likeminded supporters and receive exclusive invites to get to know your Orchestra musicians closely, meet visiting soloists in private dinners and enjoy a glass of sparkling at private interval drinks. You will of course receive public acknowledgement and full tax deductibility for your gift. Talk to us about your special area of interest – we will do our best to make it happen. As Donor Liaison Executive, Arturs Ezergailis is happy to assist with special ticketing requests, personal invitations and help you get to know your musicians. He is a former member of the MSO Cello section so has inside knowledge of the magic which happens on stage. Do ask him. The Team looks forward to hearing from you! CONTACT DETAILS philanthropy@mso.com.au +61 3 8646 1551

FANTASY AND THE FIREBIRD | 8 March

BECOME AN


Bruch’s Violin Concerto 15 March 2019 | 11am Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sir Andrew Davis conductor Lu Siqing violin BERLIOZ King Lear Overture [15'] BRUCH Violin Concerto No.1

[25']

BORODIN Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances

[14']

Biographies of Sir Andrew Davis and Lu Siqing are available on page 24. Lu Siqing will be signing his CD featuring Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 in the lobby following the performance. Running time: approximately one hour with no interval. Timings listed are approximate.


HECTOR BERLIOZ

(1803–1869)

Le roi Lear – Overture, Op.4 In his memoirs, Berlioz tells amusingly how, in Nice in 1831, he became suspect to the local chief of police. Under interrogation, he insisted he was no dangerous political subversive, nor a painter, but a composer. ‘But you are drawing plans?’ ‘Yes; plans for an overture for King Lear. The designs and instrumentation are ready, and I think the beginning will be something tremendous.’ ‘Whom do you mean by King Lear?’ – ‘Alas, sir. He is an old fellow who was King of England…eighteen hundred years ago, according to Shakespeare.’ On his way back to France from his first stay in Italy as winner of the Prix de Rome, Berlioz for the first time read this play by his hero Shakespeare. Yet Donald Tovey warns against trying to connect the music with Shakespeare’s Lear. Berlioz, he implies, composed a magnificent piece of orchestral rhetoric in tragic style ‘and hastily named it after the most powerful tragedy he had read’. Berlioz called his time in Nice ‘the three happiest weeks of my life’. It was the upside of an emotional rollercoaster ride. He had rushed back from Rome when he heard from Paris that his betrothed, Marie Moke, had married Camille Pleyel. He got as far as Nice, where he abandoned his jealous and murderous plans for revenge: ‘Life and joy came running, music embraced me.’ Shakespeare’s King Lear is the tragedy of the aging king who divides his kingdom between his daughters, in proportion to the eloquence of their declaration of love, and whose reason cracks in

the face of the vicious ingratitude of the insincere daughters. Could the noble and indignant sentences of the basses at the overture’s beginning represent the stubborn, once masterful old king? (Clearly Berlioz is remembering the cello and bass recitatives in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.) The melody for the oboe may have something to do with the character of Cordelia, disinherited by her father when she spurns insincerity, yet truly loving Lear and nursing him back to sanity.

BRUCH’S VIOLIN CONCERTO | 15 March

Program Notes

Berlioz’s King Lear is not program music. But it is full of emotions rendered in music – for Tovey, it is ‘the Tragedy of the Speaking Basses…the Plea of the Oboe, the Fury of the Orchestra’. Berlioz was one of the first Romantic composers to go one step beyond the overtures of Beethoven and Weber they admired, creating standalone pieces not for the theatre but for concert performance, with the title of a literary work in the background. Berlioz’s works of this type include Les francs-juges and Rob Roy. Does the pizzicato chord at the final climax represent, as Richard Strauss thought, something snapping in the deranged king’s brain? Berlioz never said so – he only revealed that the repeated kettledrum figure heralds not only the beginning of the fast section of the overture, but also the entry of Lear into his council chamber for the scene of the division of the kingdom. If Berlioz’s powerful mastery of the orchestra evokes other images, Shakespearean or not, such as the storm on the heath, well and good. As a Romantic he would not object! © David Garrett 2015 The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra first performed this overture on 23 and 24 June 1971 under Fritz Rieger, and most recently on 6 March 1973 with John Hopkins.

Program notes for Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances can be found on page 27.

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Season Opening Gala 16 March 2019 | 7.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sir Andrew Davis conductor Lu Siqing violin Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus Warren Trevelyan-Jones chorus master BORODIN Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances

[14']

BRUCH Violin Concerto No.1

[25'] — INTERVAL —

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.6 Pathétique [45']

Pre-concert talk: 6.30pm Join us for a pre-concert talk from the stage with MSO’s Cybec Assistant Conductor Tianyi Lu. Lu Siqing will be signing his CD featuring Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in the lobby during interval. Running time: approximately two hours with interval. Timings listed are approximate.


On behalf of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), we wish the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) the very best success for tonight’s 2019 Opening Gala performance. I believe that under the leadership of Maestro Sir Andrew Davis, renowned Chinese violinist Lu Siqing and the outstanding musicians of the MSO will give a wonderful concert to the audience! The year 2018 saw in-depth cooperation between our two institutions. During the MSO’s successful China Tour in May, numerous Chinese audiences witnessed the musical feast performed by the masters mentioned above – live in our concert hall, as well as through repeated concert broadcasts.

SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

Welcome

An old Chinese saying goes, “Bosom friends make distance disappear.” The NCPA is pleased to establish a long-term partnership with the MSO, Australia’s top symphony orchestra, to further promote exchanges and dialogue. Our cooperation will surely bring more wonderful performances to the audiences of the two countries, enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples, and promote cultural exchanges and development between China and Australia. Finally, I sincerely wish tonight’s concert a complete success, and look forward to the NCPA and MSO working hand in hand to step into the brilliant future!

WANG Ning President, National Centre for the Performing Arts

我谨代表中国国家大剧院,预祝墨尔本交响乐团2019演出季开幕音乐会取得圆满成功!我相 信,在墨尔本交响乐团首席指挥家安德鲁·戴维斯爵士的率领下,中国著名小提琴家吕思清及 墨尔本交响乐团优秀的音乐家们定将为观众奉上一场无比精彩的音乐会! 2018年是国家大剧院与墨尔本交响乐团深入合作的一年,5月份乐团在中国巡演期间,中国的 爱乐者们或走进国家大剧院音乐厅现场聆听,或通过电视及网络转播在线观看,共同见证了那 场大师云集的音乐盛宴。 “相知无远近,万里尚为邻”。国家大剧院很高兴能与墨尔本交响乐团这一澳大利亚顶尖交响乐 团建立战略合作伙伴关系,共同推进机构间更为深入的交流对话。我们双方合作,必将为两国 观众带来更多的精彩演出,增进两国人民的相互了解,推动中澳文化的交流与发展。 最后,衷心预祝今晚的音乐会圆满成功,期待国家大剧院与墨尔本交响乐团携手并进,共同谱 写华美辉煌的崭新乐章! 王宁 国家大剧院院长

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SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

Sir Andrew Davis

Lu Siqing

Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis is also Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He is Conductor Laureate of both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony, where he has also been named interim Artistic Director until 2020.

Lu Siqing is the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 Soloist in Residence. Born in Qingdao, China, Lu Siqing was invited by Yehudi Menuhin to study at his school in London aged 11. In 1984 he returned to China and five years later went to Juilliard to study with Dorothy DeLay. In 1987 he was the first Asian to win First Prize at Italy’s Paganini International Violin Competition.

conductor

In a career spanning more than 40 years he has conducted virtually all the world’s major orchestras and opera companies, and at the major festivals. Recent highlights have included Die Walküre in a new production at Chicago Lyric. Sir Andrew’s many CDs include Messiah, nominated for a 2018 Grammy, Bliss’s The Beatitudes, and a recording with the Bergen Philharmonic of Vaughan Williams’ Job/Symphony No.9 nominated for a 2018 BBC Music Magazine Award. With the MSO he has released a third recording in the ongoing Richard Strauss series, featuring the Alpine Symphony and Till Eulenspiegel.

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violin

Lu Siqing has performed at some of the world’s most famous concert halls in more than 40 countries. He has released more than 20 CDs, performed with leading orchestras such as the Philharmonia and San Francisco Symphony, and collaborated with conductors such as Maazel, Gergiev, Ashkenazy, van Zweden, Slatkin and Yu Long. In 2012, he formed the China Trio with cellist Li-Wei Qin and pianist Yingdi Sun. He plays the “Miss Crespi” 1699 Stradivari violin, generously loaned to him by Chinese-Australian arts philanthropist Mr. David Li.


Warren Trevelyan-Jones

For more than 50 years the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus has been the unstinting voice of the Orchestra’s choral repertoire. The MSO Chorus sings with the finest conductors including Sir Andrew Davis, Edward Gardner, Mark Wigglesworth, Bernard Labadie, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Manfred Honeck, and is committed to developing and performing new Australian and international choral repertoire.

Warren Trevelyan-Jones is the Head of Music at St James’, King Street in Sydney and is regarded as one of the leading choral conductors and choir trainers in Australia. Warren has had an extensive singing career as a soloist and ensemble singer in Europe, including nine years in the Choir of Westminster Abbey, and regular work with the Gabrieli Consort, Collegium Vocale (Ghent), the Taverner Consort, The Kings Consort, Dunedin Consort, The Sixteen and the Tallis Scholars.

Commissions include Brett Dean’s Katz und Spatz, Ross Edwards’ Mountain Chant, and Paul Stanhope’s Exile Lamentations. Recordings by the MSO Chorus have received critical acclaim. It has performed across Brazil and at the Cultura Inglese Festival in Sao Paolo, with The Australian Ballet, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, at the AFL Grand Final and at Anzac Day commemorative ceremonies.

MSO Chorus Master

SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus

Warren is also Director of the Parsons Affayre, Founder and Co-Director of The Consort of Melbourne and, in 2001 with Dr Michael Noone, founded the Gramophone award-winning group Ensemble Plus Ultra. Warren is also a qualified music therapist.

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MSO Symphony Orchestra Chorus REPETITEUR

ALTO

TENOR

Tom Griffiths

Satu Aho Ruth Anderson Catherine Bickell Cecilia BjĂśrkegren Kate Bramley Jane Brodie Elize Brozgul Alexandra Cameron Serena Carmel Young-Hee Chan Alexandra Chubaty Nicola Eveleigh Lisa Faulks Jill Giese Jillian Graham Debbie Griffiths Ros Harbison Sue Hawley Jennifer Henry Kristine Hensel Sara Kogan-Lazarus Helen MacLean Christina McCowan Rosemary McKelvie Stephanie Mitchell Sandy Nagy Mair Roberts Maya Rodingen Lisa Savige Julienne Seal Libby Timcke Emma Warburton

Alexandra Amerides Peter Campbell Matthew Castle John Cleghorn Keaton Cloherty James Dipnall Simon Gaites David Henley Lyndon Horsburgh Wayne Kinrade Jessop Maticevski Shumack Michael Mobach Ben Owen Jean-Francois Ravat Timothy Reynolds Nathan Guan Kiat Teo Tim Wright

SOPRANO Philippa Allen Emma Anvari Julie Arblaster Aviva Barazani Anne-Marie Brownhill Eva Butcher Isabela Calderon Jessica Chan Aliz Cole Rita Fitzgerald Emma Hamley Aurora Harmathy Juliana Hassett Penny Huggett Gwen Kennelly Maya Kraj-Krajewski Natasha Lambie Maggie Liang Judy Longbottom Claire McGlew Charlotte Midson Clancye Milne Catriona Nguyen-Robertson Tian Nie Caitlin Noble Susie Novella Karin Otto Tanja Redl Natalie Reid Beth Richardson Janelle Richardson Mhairi Riddet Natalia Salazar Jodi Samartgis Jillian Samuels Lydia Sherren Elizabeth Tindall Fabienne Vandenburie Tara Zamin

BASS Maurice Amor Alexandras Bartaska Richard Bolitho Roger Dargaville Andrew Ham Andrew Hibbard Jordan Janssen Evan Lawson Gary Levy Douglas McQueen-Thomson Vern O’Hara Alexander Owens Stephen Pyk Nick Sharman Liam Straughan Tom Turnbull Foon Wong Maciek Zielinski


ALEXANDER BORODIN

(1833–1887)

Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus (Performed without chorus at the MSO Mornings performance on 15 March)

Alexander Borodin was not only a great Russian composer, but also a doctor of medicine, a noted surgeon, and lecturer in chemistry at the St Petersburg Academy of Medicine. Though music played an important part in his life, it came second to his scientific work, and it was not until he met Balakirev, a leading figure in Russian music, that he decided to devote as much of his leisure time as possible to the study of harmony and composition. He soon became one of the most brilliant of the group of composers known as ‘the Five’, the other members of which were Balakirev, César Cui, Mussorgsky and RimskyKorsakov. All Borodin’s composing was done amidst the distractions of a busy professional life – generally, he said, in the little leisure given him by a bad cold in the head. Borodin’s opera Prince Igor is based on a medieval Russian epic poem dealing with the struggle between the Russians and the Polovtsi, a Tartar tribe occupying the plains of the river Don. In 1185 Igor led a great expedition against the Polovtsi. He was taken prisoner with his son, Vladimir, but the great and mighty Khan Konchak, ruler of the Polovtsi, was magnanimous and hospitable. Instead of treating the two princes as captives, he entertained them as royal guests.

at his death, and it was completed by his colleagues). He would have achieved still less, and Prince Igor certainly would not have reached a performable state, without the goading and help of his admiring musician friends. As RimskyKorsakov wrote in his memoirs: Thereupon [Borodin] came to my house in the evening, bringing with him the hardly touched music of the Polovtsian Dances, and the three of us – Borodin, Liadov and I – took it apart and began to score it in hot haste. To save time we wrote in pencil rather than in ink. Thus we sat at work until late at night. The finished sheets of the score Borodin covered with liquid gelatin to keep the pencil marks intact. In order to have the sheets dry the sooner, he hung them out like wash on lines in my study. Thus the number was finished and passed on to the copyist.

SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

Program Notes

The ballet at the end of Act II of Prince Igor forms part of a festival arranged by the Khan for his noble prisoners. The tunes of the barbarically splendid Polovtsian Dances remind us that a Russian genius was uniquely placed to suggest an oriental atmosphere in music (in this case the world of the Turkish, nomadic Polovtsi). © David Garrett The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra first performed the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor on 11 July 1940 with conductor Sir Thomas Beecham and the Melbourne Philharmonic Society. The Orchestra’s most recent performances, conducted by Diego Matheuz and with the MSO Chorus, took place in March 2014.

It has been said of Borodin that no composer ever claimed immortality on the basis of so slender an output (he left much of the opera unfinished 27


SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

English translation of text: Borne on wings of gentle breezes, Fly swiftly home, ye songs of grief and exile, away to our far distant mother country, where once we sang, rejoicing in our freedom. There, beneath warm skies the languid air moves softly, There, the cloud-capp’d mountains dream beside the whisp’ring seas. There the green and fragrant pastures of our dear land lie basking in the sunshine, The crimson roses cluster in the valleys, and nightingales sing loud in moonlit forests, There the roses bloom and purple grapes hang ripe and sweet. Speed, O song, by zephyrs wafted, Speed, O song, on gentle winds. Sing we praises to our glorious Khan! Praise him for his valour, peerless Khan! Hail, great Khan! Hail! Praise our Khan! All hail! He is like the sun at midday! Hail! There is no one like our glorious Khan! Bend before him, lowly captives, praise him, praise him. See’st thou these fair maidens, brought from distant shores? See’st thou these slaves from beyond the far Caspian Sea? Praise our glorious Khan, our glorious Khan! He is like the sun at midday! Hail! Famous art thou as thy forebears, proud Khan Konchak! Mighty as thy sires art thou, Ruthless Khan! Khan Konchak! Hail to thee Khan Konchak!

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May our dancing give him pleasure; Look with favour on thy handmaids! Only slaves, we strive to please thee: Maidens, charm our glorious Khan! May we give thee pleasure. Maidens, dance to please our master. Strive to please him, Khan Konchak! May our dancing give him pleasure, All hail Khan Konchak!

MAX BRUCH

(1838–1920)

Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26 Vorspiel [Prelude] (Allegro moderato) – Adagio Finale (Allegro energico) Lu Siqing violin Max Bruch’s First Violin Concerto is one of the greatest success stories in the history of music. The violinist Joseph Joachim, who gave the first performance of the definitive version in 1868, and had a strong advisory role in its creation, compared it with the other famous 19th century German violin concertos, those of Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms. Bruch’s, said Joachim, is ‘the richest, the most seductive’. (Joachim was closely associated as performer with all four of these concertos, and with the creation of Brahms’ concerto, which he premiered in 1879.) Soon Bruch was able to report that his concerto was ‘beginning a fabulous career’. In addition to Joachim, the most famous violinists of the day took it into their repertoire: Auer, Ferdinand David, Sarasate. With his first important largescale orchestral work, the 30-year-old Bruch had a winner. The success of this concerto was to be a mixed blessing for Bruch. Few composers so long-lived and prolific are so nearly forgotten except for a single work. (Kol nidrei for cello and orchestra is Bruch’s only other frequently performed piece, its use of Jewish melodies having erroneously led many to assume that Bruch himself was Jewish.) Bruch followed up this violin concerto with two more, and another six pieces for violin and orchestra. But although he constantly encouraged violinists to play his other concertos, he had to concede that none of them matched his first. This must have been especially frustrating considering that Bruch had sold full rights in it to a publisher for the paltry sum of 250 thalers.


Bruch was lucky to have the advice of so serious an artist, a composer himself, well aware of how the ‘concerto problem’ presented itself 20 years after Mendelssohn’s E minor Violin Concerto. Like Mendelssohn, Bruch brings the solo violin in right from the start, after a drum roll and a motto-like figure for the winds. The alternation of solo and orchestral flourishes suggests to writer Michael Steinberg a dreamy variant of the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto. With the main theme launched by the solo violin in sonorous double-stopping, and a contrasting descending second subject, a conventional opening movement in sonata form seems to be under way. The rhythmic figure heard in the plucked bass strings plays an important part. But at the point where the recapitulation would begin, Bruch, having brought back the opening chords and flourishes, uses them instead to prepare a soft subsiding into the slow movement, which begins without a pause.

The songful character of the violin is to the fore in the Adagio. Two beautiful themes are linked by a memorable transitional idea featuring a rising scale. The themes are artfully and movingly developed and combined, until the second ‘enters grandly below and so carries us out in the full tide of its recapitulation’ (Tovey). Although the second movement comes to a quiet full close, the third begins in the same warm key of E flat major, with a crescendo modulating to the G major of the Finale. The Hungarian or Gypsy dance flavour of the last movement’s lively first theme must be a tribute to the native land of Joachim, who had composed a ‘Hungarian’ Concerto for violin. Bruch’s theme was surely in Brahms’ mind at the same place in the concerto he composed for Joachim. Bruch’s writing for the solo violin here scales new heights of virtuosity. Of the bold and grand second subject, Tovey observed that Max Bruch’s work ‘shows one of its noblest features just where some of its most formidable rivals become vulgar’. In this concerto for once Bruch was emotional enough to balance his admirable skill and tastefulness. The G minor Violin Concerto is just right, and its success shows no sign of wearing out.

SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

In 1911 an American friend, Arthur Abell, asked Bruch why he, a pianist, had taken such an interest in the violin. He replied, ‘Because the violin can sing a melody better than the piano can, and melody is the soul of music.’ It was the composer’s association with Johann Naret-Koning, concertmaster of the Mainz orchestra, which first set Bruch on the path of composing for the violin. He did not feel sure of himself, regarding it as ‘very audacious’ to write a violin concerto, and reported that between 1864 and 1868, ‘I rewrote my concerto at least half a dozen times, and conferred with x violinists.’ The most important of these was Joachim. Many years later Bruch had reservations about the publication of his correspondence with Joachim about the concerto, worrying that ‘the public would virtually believe when it read all this that Joachim composed the concerto, and not I’.

David Garrett © 2004 The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra first performed this concerto on 12 March 1948 with conductor Sir Bernard Heinze and soloist Bertha Jorgensen, and most recently on 7 February 2018 with Antony Hermus and Sophie Rowell.

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SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March 30

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY

(1840–1893)

Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74, Pathétique Adagio – Allegro non troppo Allegro con grazia Allegro molto vivace Finale (Adagio lamentoso – Andante) The original audience for the Sixth Symphony was uncomprehending and ambivalent. Tchaikovsky had expected this, writing to his nephew and the dedicatee, ‘Bob’ Davidov, that he wouldn’t be surprised if the symphony were ‘torn to pieces’, even though he considered it his best and most sincere work. The critic Hermann Laroche suggested that audiences who ‘did not get to the core’ of the symphony would ‘in the end, come to love it.’ As it turned out, it took them only 12 days. In the intervening period its composer had died, and for the second performance, in a memorial concert, it was promoted with the composer’s subtitle: Pathétique (or Pateticheskaia Simfoniia – ‘impassioned symphony’ – as he had conceived it in Russian). The symphony was declared a masterpiece. The myth of the-Pathétique-as-suicidenote (not to mention Tchaikovsky’s ‘suicide’ itself) has been more or less debunked in the past two decades. There are no grounds for doubting that Tchaikovsky died from post-choleric complications; the ‘court of honour’ theory has been undermined; and his social, financial and artistic situation all speak against any other motivation for suicide, even if he continued to be troubled by his homosexuality. The Sixth Symphony, specifically, seems to have been a source of immense pride, satisfaction and joy to him. And shortly after its premiere he’s reported to have said ‘I feel I shall live a long time’. He was wrong. His

audience, now in mourning and seeking ‘portents’, immediately heard the Sixth Symphony (the Pathétique) in a new way. New significance was given to the appearance in the first movement of an Orthodox burial chant, ‘Repose the Soul’ – a hymn sung only when someone has died – and to the otherworldly, dying character of the adagio finale. Even if the symphony is not a suicide note, there is a programmatic and semi-autobiographical underpinning to the symphony that is the source of its unusual form and turbulent emotions. Tchaikovsky admitted the existence of a program but was cagey about the details, perhaps because it reflected his romantic feelings for Davidov. The closest we have is a sketched scenario, devised originally for an abandoned symphony in E flat but appearing to correspond with much of the Sixth Symphony: Following is essence of plan for a symphony Life! First movement – all impulse, confidence, thirst for activity. Must be short (Finale death – result of collapse). Second movement love; third disappointment; fourth ends with a dying away (also short). There are aspects of this program and the Sixth Symphony that suggest suffering, but for Tchaikovsky the composition of the symphony was a cathartic experience rather than an expression of current sufferings. He himself wrote: ‘Anyone who believes that the creative person is capable of expressing what he feels out of a momentary effect aided by the means of art is mistaken. Melancholy as well as joyous feelings can always be expressive only out of the Retrospective.’ In its art this is Tchaikovsky’s most innovative symphony. He dares to conclude with a brooding slow movement and uses boldly dramatic gestures to give the music its emotional impulse. The ‘limping’ elegance of the


In the Sixth Symphony Tchaikovsky comes to terms with his professed inadequacies in structural matters. His solution in the first movement was to extend the exposition section, so well suited to his melodic gifts, and to compress the development section in which he felt his skills inadequate. The music begins in the depths with the dark colour of the bassoon and yet somehow Tchaikovsky sustains a downward trajectory, or the impression of one, for the whole work. In the third movement the idea of ‘disappointment’ is replaced by

something more malevolent. In purely musical terms it conflates two musical figures – feverish tarantella triplets and a spiky march – but the juxtapositions and incursions into each other’s thematic territory create a disturbing sense of antagonism. The movement’s applause-provoking conclusion could be triumphant, or it could be the crash of self-delusion. The finale may not fit the formula established by Tchaikovsky’s classical predecessors, but within the emotional journey of the symphony its stark sense of tragedy provides an inevitable conclusion – all the more powerful for the grace and jauntiness of the preceding movements.

SEASON OPENING GALA | 16 March

second-movement waltz would have been less surprising, to Russians at least – its five-beat metre was a part of a tradition that was embraced by Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky (in his Pictures at an Exhibition), and later Rachmaninov (in The Isle of the Dead).

Yvonne Frindle © 2008 The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra first performed this symphony on 19 September 1939 under conductor Sir Bernard Heinze, and most recently in March 2017 with Sir Andrew Davis.

MSO’s ACCLAIMED RICHARD STRAUSS SERIES Violin Concerto with James Ehnes Don Quixote with Daniel MÜller-Schott and Christopher Moore Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sir Andrew Davis PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS RELEASES IN THE SERIES “One of the finest Also sprach Zarathustras on disc” – BBC Music Magazine “A beautifully modulated, sensitively and sensuously soaring interpretation of the Four Last Songs” – Gramophone Magazine “A distinguished reading of Ein Heldenleben” – MusicWeb International

NEW RELEASE AVAILABLE FROM MARCH 15 abcmusic.lnk.to/MSOStrauss4 AVAILABLE NOW ON CD, DIGITAL DOWNLOAD AND ON STREAMING PLATFORMS

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Mahler 10: Letters and Readings 21 March 2019 | 7.30pm 23 March 2019 | 2pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

22 March 2019 | 7.30pm Costa Hall, Geelong Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sir Andrew Davis conductor Tama Matheson writer/actor Inside the Mind of Mahler

[25'] — INTERVAL —

MAHLER Symphony No.10

[72']

Pre-concert talk: 21 March at 6.15pm / 22 March at 6.30pm / 23 March at 12.45pm Join us for a pre-concert conversation where musicians of the MSO will discuss their perspectives on Mahler and his Tenth Symphony. Running time: approximately two hours with interval. Timings listed are approximate.


Tama Matheson

Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis is also Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He is Conductor Laureate of both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony, where he has also been named interim Artistic Director until 2020.

Tama is Artistic Director of the Brisbane Shakespeare Festival. His directing credits include Metamorphosis and La Traviata with Opera Australia; Der Rosenkavalier (Melbourne Opera); Patience (Teatru Manoel, Malta); Falstaff (Oper Graz); Henry V (Brisbane Shakespeare Festival); Prometheus Unbound (Classic Productions); Tosca (4MBS Festival of Music); and, Orpheus in the Underworld (Queensland Conservatorium).

conductor

In a career spanning more than 40 years he has conducted virtually all the world’s major orchestras and opera companies, and at the major festivals. Recent highlights have included Die Walküre in a new production at Chicago Lyric. Sir Andrew’s many CDs include Messiah, nominated for a 2018 Grammy, Bliss’s The Beatitudes, and a recording with the Bergen Philharmonic of Vaughan Williams’ Job/Symphony No.9 nominated for a 2018 BBC Music Magazine Award. With the MSO he has released a third recording in the ongoing Richard Strauss series, featuring the Alpine Symphony and Till Eulenspiegel.

writer/actor

MAHLER 10: LETTERS AND READINGS | 21–23 March

Sir Andrew Davis

His television acting credits include Heartbeat and Eastenders, and on stage he has performed Felix (The Odd Couple), Banquo (Macbeth), Richard III, and Mozart (Amadeus). Tama has written and produced several plays, performed in both England and Australia. He won several awards, including Best Production for his version of Amadeus, and Best Supporting Actor for The Pillowman at the Matilda Awards in Brisbane, Australia. He won Outstanding Director for his production of Metamorphosis with the Opera Chaser Awards in Melbourne, and his production of Rosenkavalier won four more awards (Outstanding Male Singer in a Lead role, Outstanding Set, Outstanding Costume, and Outstanding Ensemble).

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MAHLER 10: LETTERS AND READINGS | 21–23 March 34

Program Notes GUSTAV MAHLER

(1860–1911)

Symphony No.10 in F sharp

(a performing version of Mahler’s draft, prepared by Deryck Cooke [1919–1976] in collaboration with Berthold Goldschmidt, Colin Matthews and David Matthews)

Adagio Scherzo (Schnelle Vierteln [Fast crotchets] – Gemächliches [leisurely] Ländler-tempo) Purgatorio (Allegretto moderato) [Scherzo] Allegro pesante. Nicht zu schnell [Not too fast] – Finale (Langsam [Slow] – Allegro moderato – Andante [tempo of the beginning of the Symphony] – Adagio) To a sequence of apocalyptic minor chords in the orchestra, a small wooden building, framed by a breathtaking vista of lake and mountains, bursts suddenly into flames. This image is from Ken Russell’s occasionally lurid biopic, Mahler; the music is the first climactic moment of the opening Adagio movement of Mahler’s epic Tenth Symphony. The work was left incomplete on his death in 1911, but Mahler had essentially completed the composition and orchestration of the Adagio, and it is therefore often performed on its own. The wooden building represents Mahler’s studio on a property at Maiernigg on the Wörthersee where he and his wife Alma spent their summer vacations from 1900 to 1907 so that he could leave aside the pressures of his day job at the Vienna Court Opera and devote himself to composition. The real ‘kleine Arbeitshaus’ (little workshop) never burst into flames so spectacularly, but the image of its sudden and catastrophic destruction is not a bad symbol for those events in Mahler’s life crucial to the genesis of the Tenth.

First, however, we should dispense with a couple of myths. Leonard Bernstein famously opined that ‘Ours is the century of death, and Mahler is its prophet’. But in fact, Death was an indispensible part of the 19th century Romantic movement’s furniture. The poetry of Novalis celebrated the ‘death wish’ – an image of final reintegration with the universe, which was taken up in various forms such as the ecstatic ‘lass mich sterben!’ (let me die!) of Tristan und Isolde or Richard Strauss’s Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration). The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer synthesised certain elements of Buddhist detachment to argue that humanity would be liberated by giving up the will to live; later on Freud, who counted Mahler among his analysands, was to resurrect the Greek gods Eros and Thanatos – sex and death. This aesthetic informs Mahler’s use of funeral marches and Totentanzen (dances of death) in a number of early symphonies, and his return to the theme of death in numerous vocal settings such as the Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the death of children) to texts by Friedrich Rückert. Only from 1907 was death a more personal concern for Mahler. He had been diagnosed at the beginning of that year as having a valvular irregularity in his heart, a condition which worsened significantly in the coming months. In addition to this, and the stress of the machinations at the Opera, the Mahlers’ four-year-old daughter died in June at the lakeside summer home of scarlet fever and diphtheria; the trauma of this caused Alma Mahler’s mother to suffer a heart attack. The Mahlers left the Wörthersee after their daughter’s death and never returned, and 1907 also saw a breach


Das Lied von der Erde and the Ninth Symphony have often been interpreted as the music of a man facing death: the song cycle finishes with the heart-breakingly beautiful ‘Farewell’, whose music is taken up by the Ninth Symphony. The latter work concludes with a long adagio, itself perhaps, a kind of farewell. But we need to be careful of placing too narrow an interpretation on music, especially instrumental music. We know, for instance, that Mahler used Tchaikovsky’s Sixth (a work that has attracted its fair share of fatuous misinterpretations) as a model for his Ninth; and contrary to popular opinion, neither composer was planning on dying any time soon. And indeed, the final movement of the Ninth contains a reminiscence from the Kindertotenlieder, where we hear that ‘up there on the heights, it’s a beautiful day’. The Ninth, therefore, is more likely a threnody of Mahler’s recently deceased daughter, but in her colourful and often unreliable memoirs, Alma Mahler feeds the legend of Mahler’s sense of impending doom. She writes that

during the summer of 1908, which they spent in the village of Toblach in the Dolomites, Mahler was in a state of anxiety about his health; two years later, however, it was she who suffered a nervous collapse and was admitted to a sanatorium. There she began an affair with the young architect Walter Gropius, the future founder of the Bauhaus. Gropius ‘mistakenly’ addressed a loveletter intended for Alma to Gustav, who in a dramatic showdown demanded Alma choose. She chose Mahler (though secretly continued to see Gropius and married him after Mahler’s death), as he was ‘the hub of her existence’. The event had a cataclysmic effect on Mahler, akin to Russell’s image of the studio completely destroyed by sudden flames, and precipitated his decision to travel to Leiden in order to consult Freud; he hoped to kill some of his demons and effect a reconciliation with Alma. It also had a considerable impact on his music, specifically the Tenth Symphony. We should however consider the score of the work that Mahler left on his death. There were five folders, with the number of the movement clearly marked on each. The first two movements exist in draft full score, as does 30 bars of the central Purgatorio. The fourth and fifth movements exist in more or less completed short score – that is a fourline system with some written indication of the instrumentation. In other words, the symphony exists in at least skeletal form. It has a symmetrical structure, where the outer movements – each around 25 minutes long – balance each other, as do the scherzos – one Haydnesque, the other more sinister, but both lasting around 11 minutes – that flank the much shorter, central Purgatorio movement. Offsetting the symmetry, the first two movements form the symphony’s Part I, while the latter three form Part II.

MAHLER 10: LETTERS AND READINGS | 21–23 March

between the composer/conductor and Vienna, the city in which he had been such a motive force. There had been rumbles of discontent at the Opera, some the result of endemic institutional politics, some clearly the result of anti-Semitism. By 1907 discontent was inflamed by Mahler’s growing reputation outside of Vienna as a composer and conductor of his own works, as well as a downturn in ticket sales. Mahler left the company in November and travelled to New York, having been courted by the Metropolitan Opera for some time. The first season in New York was a huge success, and the following summer the Mahlers returned to Europe where Mahler completed Das Lied von der Erde – begun during that fateful summer a year before – and started sketching his Ninth Symphony.

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MAHLER 10: LETTERS AND READINGS | 21–23 March

Alma Mahler at first refused to publish or circulate the sketch material, partly because certain pages contain Mahler’s written remarks, some addressed to her. These, as Michael Kennedy has noted: are painful to read because of their anguish and have misled some writers into a belief that the symphony was the work of a near-madman. These messages are connected with the Gropius affair of 1910. Perhaps this symphony reflects that experience, at least in part, but whatever passions swept him, they had no effect on his cool brain. Alma eventually asked her son-in-law, composer Ernst Krenek, to consider completing the work; Krenek, taking advice from Alban Berg, made performing editions of the Adagio and Purgatorio which were premiered in 1924. With the rise of Nazism and the outbreak of World War II, Mahler’s music generally was eclipsed, and Alma (now married to author Franz Werfel) fled Europe for the safety of the USA. Schoenberg and Shostakovich also considered, but decided against making their own versions. More minor figures braved the hostility of Alma Mahler to do so, but the real turning point came in 1959 when musicologist Deryck Cooke was asked by the BBC to write a booklet for the forthcoming Mahler Centenary. In order to make some informed comment on the Tenth, Cooke made a fair copy of the sketches, and in doing so discovered that the essence of the symphony was fully realised there. As he put it, ‘the leading thematic line throughout, and something like 90 per cent of the counterpoint and harmony are pure Mahler, and vintage Mahler at that’ and estimated that on the basis of Mahler’s documents, the orchestration was about 80 percent that of the composer.

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Under the baton of Berthold Goldschmidt, Cooke’s version was broadcast in 1960

and immediately embargoed at Alma’s command. In 1963, however, having been prevailed upon to listen to the recording, she wrote to Cooke: I was so moved by this performance that I immediately asked [to hear] the work a second time. I then realised that the time had come when I must reconsider my previous decision not to permit the performance of this work. I have now decided once and for all to give you full permission to go ahead with performances in any part of the world. Alma had believed the work to be a love-letter to her: Mahler’s annotations in the final movement’s sketches include such passionate outbursts as ‘To live for you! To die for you!’, and finally, her nickname, ‘Almschi!!’. Those that appear in earlier movements are rather more cryptic. The earliest title page of the Purgatorio reads Purgatorio oder Inferno (Purgatory or Hell) with the oder Inferno crossed out. Other remarks on the Purgatorio’s sketch material include ‘Todesverkündigen’ – a reference to the music in Wagner’s Die Walküre where Brünnhilde announces to Siegmund that he will die in battle and be transported to Walhalla; ‘Erbarmen’ (have mercy) – which some scholars link to the anguished cries of the wounded knight Amfortas in Parsifal; Jesus’ words from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’ and finally, ‘Thy will be done’. With these quotations, and its title’s reference to the specifically Catholic notion of Purgatory, this slender movement bears an emotional and spiritual weight seemingly disproportionate to its size and tone. The fourth movement’s sketch contains several remarks, including the famous ‘only you know what this means’. ‘This’ is the distinctive sound of the muffled drum which punctuates the two final movements. During the Mahlers’


The symphony may depict despair and renewed love, but Mahler’s music is always universal, going beyond what philosopher Theodor Adorno termed ‘the addictive erotic loneliness’ that characterised much Viennese art at the time. Moreover, ‘whatever passions swept him, they had no effect on his cool brain’; as Tchaikovsky pointed out regarding his Fourth Symphony, music has a capacity to represent specific psychological states, but only in retrospect. Kennedy argues that ‘the Tenth is (or was to be) greater than the Ninth’. The formal structure is fascinating, and the thematic relationships between movements give the work an immense unity. The seemingly inconsequential Purgatorio provides important thematic material for the following scherzo (a slow waltz-like section) and the finale. In the latter, this includes the sublime flute solo which, like the Bird of Death flute solo in the ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, presages a vision of peace; by contrast it also informs the more disturbing tuba solo. After the climax used by Ken Russell, the opening Adagio proceeds to a more cataclysmic sound, a shattering nine-note chord through which comes the piercing cry of a solo trumpet. This gesture occurs again in the finale, though after passing through that realm of pain the music achieves a radiant calm. As Edward Seckerson

puts it, the music is ‘brimful of hope and newfound determination’. Far from wallowing in self-pity, the Tenth shows Mahler ready to strike out on new compositional paths having passed safely through a fiery purgatory. We can only imagine what music would have been like had he lived beyond the age of 50; the work of Deryck Cooke gives us at least some idea. Gordon Kerry © 2008 The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra first performed Deryck Cooke’s realisation of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony on 20 June 1985 under the direction of Hiroyuki Iwaki, and most recently on 13-15 November 2008 with Mark Wigglesworth.

MAHLER 10: LETTERS AND READINGS | 21–23 March

first visit to New York they observed from their hotel window the funeral procession of a fireman who had died in action; Mahler’s response to the muffled drum beat, and the heroic death by fire, was an effusion of tears, and an important role for the sound in his last symphony. The remainder of this movement is festooned with various cries: ‘the devil dances with me’; ‘madness, take hold of me, the accursed’; ‘destroy me that I may forget I exist…’; ‘farewell, my lyre’.

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NOTES from the MSO What a spectacular opening to 2019! The MSO’s year began with full houses at performances of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert, followed by the 90th anniversary of the Sidney Myer Free Concert series at the glorious Music Bowl. The MSO also enters March on the back of sold-out concerts with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, presented in partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Chinese New Year One of the biggest events of the year filled Hamer Hall in February, when

visionary composer and MSO Artistic Ambassador, Tan Dun returned to Melbourne for the annual Chinese New Year concert. Joining him on stage was the legendary Inner Mongolian rock band, Hanggai, while MSO Principal Double Bass, Steve Reeves performed the Australian Premiere of Maestro Tan’s double bass concerto Wolf Totem. Audience members from Melbourne, regional Victoria, interstate and overseas joined in with Tan’s Cellphone Symphony, filling the hall with digitally-created birdsong. It was a unique way to start the Year of the Pig, and a sign of things to come for our 2019 East Meets West program.

Hanggai. Image credit: Liu Rendi


MSO PATRON The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria

CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE Marc Besen AC and Eva Besen AO Gandel Philanthropy The Gross Foundation Harold Mitchell Foundation David and Angela Li Harold Mitchell AC MS Newman Family Foundation Lady Potter AC CMRI The Cybec Foundation The Pratt Foundation The Ullmer Family Foundation Anonymous (2)

ARTIST CHAIR BENEFACTORS Orchestral Leadership Joy Selby Smith Cybec Assistant Conductor Chair Tianyi Lu The Cybec Foundation Concertmaster Chair Sophie Rowell The Ullmer Family Foundation 2019 Mid-Season Gala Artist Lang Lang is supported by Marc Besen AC and Eva Besen AO Young Composer in Residence Mark Holdsworth The Cybec Foundation

PROGRAM BENEFACTORS Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers Program The Cybec Foundation East meets West Supported by the Li Family Trust Meet the Orchestra Made possible by The Ullmer Family Foundation MSO Audience Access Crown Resorts Foundation, Packer Family Foundation

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Supporters 42

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MSO PATRON COMMISSIONS Clarinet Concerto Paul Dean Commissioned by Andrew Johnston Snare Drum Award test piece 2019 Commissioned by Tim and Lyn Edward

CONDUCTOR’S CIRCLE Current Conductor’s Circle Members Jenny Anderson David Angelovich G C Bawden and L de Kievit Lesley Bawden Joyce Bown Mrs Jenny Brukner and the late Mr John Brukner Ken Bullen Peter A Caldwell Luci and Ron Chambers Beryl Dean Sandra Dent Lyn Edward Alan Egan JP Gunta Eglite Mr Derek Grantham Marguerite Garnon-Williams Drs Clem Gruen and Rhyl Wade Louis Hamon OAM


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The MSO gratefully acknowledges the support of the following Estates: Angela Beagley Neilma Gantner The Hon Dr Alan Goldberg AO QC Gwen Hunt Audrey Jenkins Joan Jones Pauline Marie Johnston Joan Jones C P Kemp Peter Forbes MacLaren Joan Winsome Maslen Lorraine Maxine Meldrum Prof Andrew McCredie Miss Sheila Scotter AM MBE Marion A I H M Spence Molly Stephens Jennifer May Teague Jean Tweedie Herta and Fred B Vogel Dorothy Wood

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HONORARY APPOINTMENTS

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The MSO relies on your ongoing philanthropic support to sustain our artists, and support access, education, community engagement and more. We invite our suporters to get close to the MSO through a range of special events. The MSO welcomes your support at any level. Donations of $2 and over are tax deductible, and supporters are recognised as follows: $1,000+ (Player)

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CALENDAR

OF EVENTS

29 March – 1 April

4 & 5 April

8 April

Beethoven, Mozart and Sibelius

Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto

Jams for Fams: Mother Goose

Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

Melbourne Recital Centre and Monash University

Melbourne Recital Centre

8 April

11 – 13 April

26 – 27 April

Ears Wide Open: Ravel’s Mother Goose

Verdi’s Requiem

Ghostbusters

Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

Melbourne Recital Centre

Tickets at mso.com.au


Thank you to our Partners Principal Partner

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East meets West Program Partners Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne

LRR Family Trust

Mr Chu Wanghua and Dr Shirley Chu

Associate Professor Douglas Gin and Susan Gin

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BEST SEAT in the house

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*Emirates First Class Private Suite pictured. For more information visit emirates.com/au, call 1300 303 777, or contact your local travel agent.