November 2019 with the MSO

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CONCERT PROGRAM

NOVEMBER 2019 AN EVENING WITH THE MSO TC H A I KOV S K Y A N D B R A H M S

G H O S T S TO R I E S

a nd Farewel l to Si r Andrew! P I E R S L A N E P L AYS B E E T H OV E N

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT


1000 musicians and singers join forces for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s bi est performance of all time. Sir Andrew Davis CONDUCTOR

24 OCTOBER 2020 Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne

It doesn’t get bi er than this. Tickets and corporate packages at

MSO.COM.AU/MAHLER8


CONTENTS

05 10

THE MELBOURNE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Your MSO Guest musicians AN EVENING WITH THE MSO Thursday 31 October / 7.30pm Frankston Arts Centre

TCHAIKOVSKY AND BRAHMS Friday 1 November / 7.30pm Melbourne Town Hall

16 30 40

GHOST STORIES Sunday 3 November / 11am Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre

PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN Friday 22 November / 7.30pm Saturday 23 November / 7.30pm Monday 25 November / 7.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT Thursday 28 November / 7.30pm Saturday 30 November / 2pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

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In 1919 Melbourne Symphony Orchestra became the first professional orchestra in Australia to perform concerts just for children. Over the past one hundred years we’ve pioneered a number of music learning initiatives including Sir Bernard Heinze’s Young People’s Concerts, a residency in regional Victoria and Australia’s first orchestral relaxed performance for people with sensory sensitivities. Today we offer a range of learning experiences for people of all ages and abilities, from students and teachers to young adults and families to emerging artists. With your support we can develop the next wave of innovative music learning programs and build a legacy for the next hundred years.

Please donate to the MSO’s Centenary of Music Learning appeal today. Contact a member of the Philanthropy team on (03) 8646 1551 or via email at philanthropy@mso.com.au. For more information, please visit mso.com.au/support


Our Artistic Family

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is a leading cultural figure in the Australian arts landscape, bringing the best in orchestral music and passionate performance to a diverse audience across Victoria, the nation and around the world. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is a leading cultural figure in the Australian arts landscape, bringing the best in orchestral music and passionate performance to a diverse audience across Victoria, the nation and around the world. Each year the MSO engages with more than 5 million people through live concerts, TV, radio and online broadcasts, international tours, recordings and education programs. Under the spirited leadership of Chief Conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, the MSO is a vital presence, both onstage and in the community, in cultivating classical music in Australia. The nation’s first

professional orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has been the sound of the city of Melbourne since 1906. The MSO regularly attracts great artists from around the globe including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Lang Lang, Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson, while bringing Melbourne’s finest musicians to the world through tours to China, Europe and the United States. 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. 5


Your MSO

Your MSO

Sir Andrew Davis Chief Conductor

Benjamin Northey Principal Conductor in Residence

Tianyi Lu

Cybec Assistant Conductor

Hiroyuki Iwaki

Conductor Laureate (1974–2006)

FIRST VIOLINS Dale Barltrop Concertmaster

Sophie Rowell

Concertmaster The Ullmer Family Foundation#

Tair Khisambeev

Assistant Concertmaster

Peter Edwards

Assistant Principal

Kirsty Bremner Sarah Curro

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

Michael Aquilina#

VIOLAS

Peter Fellin Deborah Goodall Lorraine Hook Anne-Marie Johnson Kirstin Kenny Eleanor Mancini Mark Mogilevski Michelle Ruffolo Kathryn Taylor

Christopher Moore

Michael Aquilina

#

Principal Di Jameson#

Associate Principal Assistant Principal Anonymous*

Miranda Brockman

Geelong Friends of the MSO#

Rohan de Korte

Andrew Dudgeon#

Keith Johnson

Barbara Bell, in memory of Elsa Bell#

Sarah Morse Maria Solà#

Angela Sargeant Maria Solà#

Michelle Wood

Michael Aquilina#

DOUBLE BASSES Damien Eckersley Benjamin Hanlon

Christopher Cartlidge

Frank Mercurio and Di Jameson#

Lauren Brigden Katharine Brockman Anthony Chataway

Sophie Galaise and Clarence Fraser#

Associate Principal Michael Aquilina#

Dr Elizabeth E Lewis AM#

Gabrielle Halloran Maria Solà

#

Trevor Jones Anne Neil#

Fiona Sargeant Maria Solà#

Cindy Watkin

6

Principal MS Newman Family#

Suzanne Lee Stephen Newton

FLUTES Prudence Davis Principal Anonymous#

Wendy Clarke

Associate Principal

Sarah Beggs

Sophia Yong-Tang#


Your MSO

PICCOLO Andrew Macleod

HORNS

PERCUSSION

Nicolas Fleury

Robert Clarke

Saul Lewis

John Arcaro

Principal John McKay and Lois McKay#

Principal

OBOES

Principal Third The Hon Michael Watt QC and Cecilie Hall#

Jeffrey Crellin

Principal

Thomas Hutchinson Associate Principal

Ann Blackburn

The Rosemary Norman Foundation#

COR ANGLAIS Michael Pisani

Principal

Abbey Edlin

Nereda Hanlon and Michael Hanlon AM#

Trinette McClimont Rachel Shaw

BASS CLARINET Jon Craven Principal

BASSOONS Jack Schiller

Principal

Elise Millman

Associate Principal

Yinuo Mu Principal

Shane Hooton William Evans Rosie Turner

Craig Hill

HARP

Principal

David Thomas

Associate Principal

Drs Rhyll Wade and Clem Gruen#

TRUMPETS

Associate Principal

Philip Arkinstall

Tim and Lyn Edward#

Robert Cossom

Owen Morris

CLARINETS Principal

Principal

John and Diana Frew#

TROMBONES Richard Shirley

Tim and Lyn Edward#

Mike Szabo

Principal Bass Trombone

TUBA Timothy Buzbee

Principal

TIMPANI**

Natasha Thomas

Dr Martin Tymms and Patricia Nilsson#

CONTRABASSOON Brock Imison

Principal

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

7


Guest Musicians

Guest Musicians AN EVENING WITH THE MSO / TCHAIKOVSKY AND BRAHMS | 31 October – 1 November Aaron Barnden

Mee Na Lojewski

Carla Blackwood

Michael Loftus-Hills

Zoe Wallace

Roman Ponomariov

Clare Miller

Christian Geldsetzer

Jessica Buzbee

Ceridwen Davies

Vivian Qu Siyuan

Brent Miller

Merewyn Bramble

Emma Sullivan

Leah Scholes

Isabel Morse

Eli Elliot

violin violin violin viola viola viola

cello cello

double bass+ double bass double bass

associate principal horn horn

principal trombone timpani

percussion

double bass^

PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November Aaron Barnden

William Clark

Vivian Qu Siyuan

Madeleine Jevons

Isabel Morse

Giovanni Vinci

Jenny Khafagi

Katie Yap

Jessica Buzbee

Michael Loftus-Hills

Svetlana Bogosavljevic

Brent Miller

Nicholas Waters

Christian Geldsetzer

violin violin violin violin violin

viola viola viola cello

double bass double bass

principal trombone timpani

double bass+

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November Aaron Barnden

Nicholas Waters

Geoffrey Payne

Madeleine Jevons

William Clark

David Bremner

Jenny Khafagi

Isabel Morse

John Fox

Michael Loftus-Hills

Christian Geldsetzer

Vivian Qu Siyuan

violin violin violin violin

violin viola viola

double bass+

+ Appears courtesy of Philharmonia Orchestra (UK) * Appears courtesy of Singapore Symphony Orchestra ^ Melbourne University Masters of Music student 8

Information correct as of 25 October 2019.

trumpet

trombone

percussion* double bass


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Tchaikovsky and Brahms Friday 1 November 2019 | 7.30pm Melbourne Town Hall

An Evening with the MSO Thursday 31 October 2019 | 7.30pm Frankston Arts Centre Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Benjamin Northey conductor Daniel de Borah piano BRAHMS Piano Concerto No.1

[44']

— INTERVAL — TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.4

[44']

Running time: approximately two hours including a 20-minute interval. Timings listed are approximate. Pre-concert conversation: 31 October at 6.30pm, Frankston Arts Centre. Learn more about the performance at a pre-concert talk with MSO Second Violin Andrew Hall. Organ Recital: 1 November at 6.30pm, Melbourne Town Hall Calvin Bowman presents a free 30-minute recital on the mighty Grand Organ. Friday’s performance is being recorded by ABC Classic for broadcast on 8 November and 30 December.


Daniel de Borah

Benjamin Northey is Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor in Residence of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Daniel de Borah has emerged in recent years as one of Australia’s foremost musicians, praised for the grace, finesse and imaginative intelligence of his performances. His busy and wide-ranging performance schedule finds him equally at home as concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.

conductor

Winner of the 2019 Limelight Magazine Australian Artist of the Year award, Northey appears regularly as guest conductor with all major Australian and New Zealand symphony orchestras, Opera Australia, New Zealand Opera and State Opera South Australia. His international appearances include concerts with London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hong Kong, Tokyo and Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestras, the National Orchestra of Colombia and the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. Northey is a strong advocate for music by Australian composers. He has a progressive and diverse approach to repertoire having collaborated with a broad range of artists including Pinchas Zukerman, Maxim Vengerov and AnneSofie von Otter, as well as KD Lang, Tim Minchin and James Morrison. His awards include the 2001 Symphony Australia Young Conductor of the Year, the prestigious 2010 Melbourne Prize Outstanding Musician’s Award and multiple awards for his many recordings with ABC Music.

piano

Since his prize-winning appearances at the 2004 Sydney International Piano Competition, Daniel has given recitals on four continents and toured extensively throughout the United Kingdom and Australia. He has appeared as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Auckland Symphony Orchestras. Daniel is a core member of Ensemble Q, ensemble-in-residence at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.

AN EVENING WITH THE MSO / TCHAIKOVSKY AND BRAHMS | 31 October – 1 November

Benjamin Northey

Born in Melbourne in 1981, Daniel studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music, London. His teachers have included Zsuzsa Eszto, Mira Jevtic, Nina Seryogina, Tatyana Sarkissova and Alexander Satz. Daniel currently serves on the faculty of the Queensland Conservatorium. 11


AN EVENING WITH THE MSO / TCHAIKOVSKY AND BRAHMS | 31 October – 1 November 12

Program Notes JOHANNES BRAHMS

(1833–1897)

Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor, Op.15 Maestoso Adagio Rondo (Allegro non troppo) Robert Schumann had been the Romantic composer par excellence, cultivating the fragmentary, the poetic and the allusive while also contributing to those genres established by composers in the classical tradition. After his death in 1856 two roads diverged in German music: the ‘New German’ composers, led by Franz Liszt and in turn by Richard Wagner, composed the ‘music of the future’, avoiding or at least subverting the conventions of symphony and sonata with narrative or philosophical ‘programs’; in due course Brahms would come to occupy the position of antipope, breathing new life into the forms and genres of abstract music. When Brahms’ First Piano Concerto appeared in January 1859 it shocked traditionalists in its scale and ferocity, but also because it blurred the distinction between symphony and concerto, and because of suspicions that it contained a program. The premiere in Hannover, led by Joseph Joachim and with the composer at the keyboard, was received with polite confusion, one critic finding it ‘dry and difficult to understand’; but the performance in Leipzig a day or two later engendered frank hostility, and it is fair to say that Brahms was still less than confident in handling orchestration. The work grew out of the Sonata for two pianos that Brahms worked on in the mid-1850s, which the Schumanns had encouraged him to orchestrate. Not surprisingly, Brahms, still in his early 20s, was influenced by the prevailing

currents of Romanticism and his music from this time contains more than its share of Sturm und Drang (storm and stress), which was carried over into the Concerto. Thanks partly to Joachim, though, a story grew up that the first movement of the Concerto enacted and registered Brahms’ reaction to Robert Schumann’s attempt to commit suicide by flinging himself into the Rhine at Düsseldorf. Be that as it may, the concerto has one of the most excoriating openings of any work – by Brahms or anyone else – with its powerful pedal note D that only just supports a massive superstructure of unstable harmony and arresting rhetorical motifs. This provides an introduction of some minutes’ duration – as in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, there is the danger that listeners will forget that they are to hear a piano concerto – before the appearance of the soloist who, as Karl Geiringer has noted, is repeatedly given music ‘only remotely, if at all, connected to the material of the orchestral part’. Geiringer goes on to point out how this may derive from Brahms’ study of Baroque music, but the effect here is of titanic, and arch-Romantic, struggle between angst and brilliance. The original two-piano sonata followed the first movement with a minor-key scherzo that Brahms omitted from the Concerto, though he did, some years later, use it as the basis for the sombre dance-like second movement of his German Requiem, ‘Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras’ (for all flesh is as grass). The remainder of the Concerto is all new material, and the manuscript of the Adagio originally bore the inscription Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini (Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord); as Charles Rosen has noted, ‘the juncture of religion and music’ affects ‘even the piano concertos of Brahms’. The inscription was not included in the published score, but, writing to Clara Schumann about it in


If there is an accidental similarity to Beethoven’s Third Concerto at the outset, there is a more conscious one in the third movement, where Brahms seems to have used the form and proportions, and even, according to Jan Swafford, certain phrase structures of Beethoven’s finale to shape his own. Brahms was wounded by the negative response to the piece, though aware of the role his orchestral inexperience played in its reception. It would be another 15 years before the next try. © Gordon Kerry 2015 The MSO first performed Brahms’ First Piano Concerto on 20 July 1945 with conductor Sir Bernard Heinze and soloist Noel Mewton-Wood, and most recently in October 2017 with Otto Tausk and Saleem Ashkar.

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY

(1840–1893)

Symphony No.4 in F minor, Op.36 Andante sostenuto – Moderato con anima – Moderato assai, quasi Andante – Allegro vivo
 Andantino in modo di canzona 
 Scherzo (Pizzicato ostinato) – Allegro 
 Finale (Allegro con fuoco) ‘The Introduction is the kernel of the whole symphony, without question its main idea. This is Fate, the force of destiny…’ This could be a description of the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth. But the words are Tchaikovsky’s and they describe the strident horn fanfares of his Fourth Symphony. Tchaikovsky’s patron, Nadezhda von Meck, heard in the symphony a profound emotional drama. After the premiere in 1878 she asked him whether the symphony had a definite program, a literary underpinning. Tchaikovsky had told others that the symphony’s drama couldn’t be formulated in words, but for von Meck, who paid his bills, he went to the trouble of finding those words. …in truth, it is a hard question to answer…In our symphony there is a program (that is, the possibility of explaining in words what it seeks to express)…Of course, I can do this here only in general terms.

AN EVENING WITH THE MSO / TCHAIKOVSKY AND BRAHMS | 31 October – 1 November

1856, Brahms said, ‘I am also painting a lovely portrait of you; it is to be the adagio.’ This suggests that the ‘blessed person’ is Clara, and the ‘Lord’ is Robert (whom Brahms occasionally referred to jokingly as ‘Mynheer Domine’) and his legacy. This is no less ‘Romantic’ than the opening movement, though of a quite different tenor and mood. The piano, perhaps representing Clara, has a more conventionally prominent role, though the movement is by no means a vehicle for bravura display.

The Introduction is the kernel of the whole symphony, without question its main idea. This is Fate, the force of destiny, which ever prevents our pursuit of happiness from reaching its goal…It is invincible, inescapable. One can only resign oneself and lament fruitlessly. This disconsolate and despairing feeling grows ever stronger and more intense. Would it not be better to turn away from reality and immerse oneself in dreams? 13


AN EVENING WITH THE MSO / TCHAIKOVSKY AND BRAHMS | 31 October – 1 November

Tchaikovsky continues, identifying musical ideas representing tender dreams and fervent hope, then a climax suggesting the possibility of happiness, before the Fate theme awakens us from the dreams… And thus, all life is the ceaseless alternation of bitter reality with evanescent visions and dreams of happiness…There is no refuge. We are buffeted about by this sea until it seizes us and pulls us down to the bottom. There you have roughly the program of the first movement. All this matches the emotional character of the first movement – the music’s ‘profound, terrifying despair’ – and if we allow for Tchaikovsky’s personal turmoil at the time (he’d emerged from an illadvised marriage) then it could be given an autobiographical interpretation. More striking, though, is Tchaikovsky’s handling of his two principal ideas: Fate and ‘self’. Fate is the fanfare (actually a polonaise, writes Richard Taruskin); ‘self’ is the first real melody – a glorious waltz. These two ideas collide in the music. Copying a dramatic strategy from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Tchaikovsky superimposes his dances, matching three bars of waltz time to one bar of the slower, aristocratic polonaise (also in three). Then, in the coda, we hear the ‘complete subjection of self to Fate’ and the waltz returns one last time, stretched to match the pulse of the polonaise – hardly a waltz at all. The effect of this collision is one of music – and a composer – torn between extremes. Tchaikovsky’s instinct was for lyrical outpourings (his waltz), but he understood that to be a symphonist in 1878 meant observing the symphonic conventions established by Beethoven. The Fate fanfare gave him a motto he could manipulate.

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Tchaikovsky’s student, Sergei Taneyev, observed that the ‘disproportionately long’ first movement gave ‘the appearance of a symphonic poem to which three movements have been appended fortuitously to make up a symphony’. Perhaps Tchaikovsky agreed: after the wealth of detail for the first movement, his descriptive program peters out. The second movement is summed up as an expression of ‘the melancholy feeling that arises in the evening as you sit alone, worn out from your labours’. The Scherzo appears to contain no definite feelings at all: ‘One’s mind is a blank, and the imagination has free rein.’ But the Scherzo is one of the most effective parts of the symphony – the relentless plucking of pizzicato strings combining with brilliant writing for woodwinds and brass, in particular the scampering piccolo. In the Finale, Tchaikovsky chooses a Russian folk song, ‘The Birch Tree’, as the theme for a set of variations. He gives the apparently cheerful scenario of holiday festivities a depressing cast: ‘If you can find no impulse for joy within yourself, look at others…Never say that all the world is sad. You have only yourself to blame…Why not rejoice through the joys of others?’ It’s as if we are to hear the finale as festivity – but second hand. If this isn’t resignation to Fate, nothing is. Yvonne Frindle © 2009/2013 The first complete performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony by the MSO took place on 20 August 1938 under conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent. The Orchestra performed it most recently in February 2018 with Antony Hermus.



Ghost Stories Sunday 3 November 2019 | 11am Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre Greta Bradman soprano Monica Curro violin David Berlin cello Stefan Cassomenos piano Mairi Nicolson presenter SHOSTAKOVICH Seven Romances

[28']

STANHOPE Lorca Songs

[24'] — INTERVAL —

BEETHOVEN Piano Trio Op.70 No.1 (‘Ghost’)

Running time: approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes with a 20-minute interval. Timings listed are approximate.

[25']


GHOST STORIES | 3 November

Greta Bradman

Monica Curro

Greta Bradman is one of Australasia’s most celebrated operatic and concert artists. Recent performance highlights include Mimi (La bohème) for Opera Australia, Lisa (La sonnambula) for Victorian Opera and the title roles in Theodora (Canberra) and Rodelinda (Melbourne). Her 2015 début album for Decca Classics My Hero received fivestar reviews and topped the classical and classical crossover ARIA charts for several months. Her new album Home is now available.

Monica Curro is Assistant Principal Second Violin of the MSO, and was a core member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for 5 years prior. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and completed a Master’s degree at Michigan State University, studying with Walter Verdehr. She has played with Sydney, Queensland, Tasmanian and West Australian Symphony Orchestras.

soprano

After obtaining her music degree from the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Greta received her Fellowship from the Australian National Academy of Music before completing a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Vocal Studies at the Wales International Academy of Voice – where she studied under Dennis O’Neill CBE and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

violin

Monica is a member of the Board of Directors of the Australian Youth Orchestra, and regularly tutors for their orchestral and chamber music programs. She has taught violin at The University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts, and has coached chamber music and taught violin and viola at the Australian National Academy of Music and its Young Academy. Monica is a founding member of contemporary ensemble PLEXUS, MSO’s 2019 Ensemble in Residence.

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GHOST STORIES | 3 November

David Berlin

Stefan Cassomenos

David Berlin studied the cello with Lois Simpson at the Sydney Conservatorium and with Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. For over 30 years David has been at the forefront of music performance in Australia, as Principal Cello of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 1989.

Melbourne pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. He has been performing internationally since the age of 10, and gave the world premiere of his own Piano Concerto No.1 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16. In 2013, Cassomenos was a grand finalist and recipient of both the Second Grand Prize and the Chamber Music Prize in the prestigious International Telekom Beethoven Piano Competition Bonn.

cello

In London in 1992, David gave the world premiere performance of the complete works for cello and piano by Franz Liszt, with Leslie Howard. David has performed chamber music with violinists Kolja Blacher and James Ehnes, pianists Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman, as well as tenor Ian Bostridge. Along with solo recordings for ABC radio he has appeared as soloist on the Tall Poppies, Chandos and Naxos labels. His recital disc Barber & Debussy with pianist Len Vorster on the Tall Poppies label was nominated by James McCarthy as one of the best classical CDs of 2011 in Limelight magazine.

piano

Cassomenos founded the contemporary ensemble PLEXUS with violinist Monica Curro and clarinetist Philip Arkinstall, which since launching in 2014 has commissioned over 100 composers and given over 80 world premieres. Born in 1985 in Melbourne, Stefan completed his Bachelor of Music (Honours) on full scholarship at the University of Melbourne. He also undertook the Advanced Performance Program on full scholarship at the Australian National Academy of Music. Stefan is generously supported by Kawai Australia.

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GHOST STORIES | 3 November

Mairi Nicholson presenter

Mairi’s long and varied career as a broadcaster and music journalist for both the ABC and BBC has taken her from the Sydney Opera House to New York’s Avery Fischer Hall, from the Royal Albert Hall, London to Hamer Hall, Melbourne. Currently for ABC Classic FM she presents the Lunchtime Concert, The Opera Show and Legends plus live broadcasts of MSO and Musica Viva concerts and Opera Australia productions. Mairi writes for Limelight magazine, leads Opera and Music tour groups to Europe and America and conducts Media training with singers and instrumentalists.

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GHOST STORIES | 3 November

Program Notes DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH

(1906–1975)

Seven Verses of A. Blok, Op.127 Song of Ophelia Gamayun, the Bird of Prophecy We were together (That Troubled Night) The City Sleeps (Deep in Sleep) The Tempest Secret Signs Music In early 1967 Shostakovich was recuperating after a heart attack – from which he never fully recovered – and was finding composition difficult. It was not merely his physical state as its effect on his creativity. Writing to his friend Isaak Glikman, he noted that he, like Tchaikovsky, had lived longer than he should have, and that he had ‘become disillusioned with myself…I am a very dull and mediocre composer’. After reflecting on his earlier work, he goes on to say, ‘However, the composition of music – an affliction in the nature of a disease – haunts me. Today I completed seven romances on texts by A. Blok’. The composition, which took only a matter of days, in fact improved Shostakovich’s morale markedly, and in the subsequent weeks he set to work on setting poetry by Pushkin and, more ambitiously, his Second Violin Concerto for David Oistrakh.

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Alexander Blok was born into the St Petersburg intelligentsia in 1880, enjoying summers on a family estate near Moscow and studying law, philosophy and history in St Petersburg. Influenced by several contemporaries, including the religious mystic Vladimir Solovyov, Blok soon became the pre-eminent Symbolist poet in Russia. His work is full of intense feeling and complex allusions, often to

other literature, such as Shakespeare, as well as to the natural world, and imagery of music is threaded through it constantly. Blok claimed to have foreseen, and at first certainly welcomed, the Revolution and the new Soviet government for which he worked in an administrative capacity, but having been interrogated by the Cheka, had lost enthusiasm for it by 1921. (This may have contributed to the regime’s tardiness in granting him a visa to go abroad for urgent medical treatment; the visa was only granted after the poet’s death at the age of 40.) Shostakovich had been asked by Mstislav Rostropovich for pieces that he and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, could perform. Shostakovich was drawn to the early poetry of Blok, much of which was inspired by and dedicated to his wife, the actor and historian Lyubov Mendelyeva. Having set Song of Ophelia for voice and cello, Shostakovich felt moved to add piano and violin (for himself and Oistrakh, though in the event he was too unwell to play at the October premiere, at which his friend and colleague Moisey Weinberg performed). He set six more songs, each with a different combination of voice and instrument. Ophelia’s bleak image of an angry sea and absent love is accompanied by cello; the Bird of Prophecy’s apocalyptic visions by percussive piano before lapsing briefly into quietness. The violin features in the nostalgic ‘We were together’ (which mentions violins in the vibrant darkness); piano and cello join the voice to depict ‘gloom enwrapping the sleeping city’, while violin and piano accompany the febrile The Tempest. The ephemeral dreams of Secret Signs are rendered in subtle string tones, but only in the final Music (not Blok’s title), a hymn to all that transcends pain and sorrow, do the three instruments all join the voice. Gordon Kerry © 2019 This is the first performance of this work by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.


ALEXANDER BLOK

(1880–1921)

Песня Офелии

Song of Ophelia

Разлучаясь с девой милой, друг,

When you left me, my dear friend

Ты клялся мне любить!…

you promised to love me

Уезжая в край постылый,

You left for a distant land,

Клятву данную хранить!…

and swore to keep your promise!

Там, за Данией счастливой,

Beyond the happy land of Denmark,

Берега твои во мгле…

the shores are in darkness…

Вал сердитый, говорливый

The angry waves wash

Моет слёзы на скале…

over the rocks…

Милый воин не вернётся,

My warrior shall not return,

Весь одетый в серебро…

all dressed in silver…

В гробе тяжко всколыхнётся

The bow, and the black feather will

Бант и чёрное перо…

restlessly lie in their grave.

Гамаюн птица вещая

Gamayun, the Bird of Prophecy

На гладях бесконечных вод,

On endless waters’ smooth expanse,

Закатом в пурпур облечённых,

by sunset clad in purple splendour,

Она вещает и поёт,

in Delphic tone she ever sings,

Не в силах крыл поднять смятённых…

but cannot spread her weakened wings…

Вещает иго злых татар,

She prophesies the Tartar yoke,

Вещает казней ряд кровавых,

its course of bloody executions,

И трус, и голод, и пожар,

and quake, and famine, and alarm,

Злодеев силу, гибель правых…

the righteous’ downfall, evil’s power…

Предвечным ужасом объят,

In dark primeval terror wreathed,

Прекрасный лик горит любовью,

her countenance aflame with passion,

Но вещей правдою звучат

she speaks and prophecies resound

Уста, запекшиеся кровью!

through truthful lips with bloodstains clotted.

GHOST STORIES | 3 November

TEXT

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GHOST STORIES | 3 November 22

Мы были вместе

We were together

Мы были вместе, помню я…

We were together, I recall…

Ночь волновалась, скрипка пела,

Violins sang in vibrant darkness

Ты в эти дни была моя,

day after day you were my own,

Ты с каждым часом хорошела.

with every hour you grew more fair.

Сквозь тихое журчанье струй,

The secrets of a woman’s smile,

Сквозь тайну женственной улыбки

the quiet whispering of breezes

К устам просился поцелуй,

set tender kisses on my lips,

Просились в сердце звуки скрипки…

and filled my heart with violin songs.

Город спит

The City Sleeps

Город спит, окутан мглою,

Gloom enwraps the sleeping city,

Чуть мерцают фонари…

lanterns flickering and pale…

Там далёко, за Невою,

Daybreak’s distant scintillations

Вижу отблески зари.

gleam beyond the dark Neva.

В этом дальнем отраженьи,

In this faraway reflection,

В этих отблесках огня

in these glimmerings of flame

Притаилось пробужденье

lay concealed the origin

Дней, тоскливых для меня…

of my forsaken, joyless days…

Буря

The Tempest

О, как безумно за окном

Beyond my window, fierce and wild,

Ревёт, бушует буря злая,

the savage tempest roars and rages,

Несутся тучи, льют дождём,

with scudding storm clouds, streaming rain

И ветер воет, замирая!

and howling wind that fades to silence!

Ужасна ночь! В такую ночь

An awful night! On such a night

Мне жаль людей, лишённых крова,

I pity those bereft of shelter.

Сожаленье гонит прочь

A deep compassion drives me forth

В объятья холода сырого!

to share the winter’s damp embraces!…

Бороться с мраком и дождём,

To strive against the gloom and rain,

Страдалцев участь разделяя

at one with outcasts, doomed to suffer…

О, как безумно за окном

Beyond my window, fierce and wild,

Бушует ветер, изнывая!

the raging wind sinks in exhaustion!


Secret Signs

Разгораются тайные знаки

The secret signs appear

На глухой, непробудной стене.

on the impenetrable wall.

Золотые и красные маки

Golden and crimson poppies

Надо мной тяготеют во сне.

blossom in my dreams.

Укрываюсь в ночные пещеры

I drown in the caverns of night,

И не помню суровых чудес.

and forget the magic of my dreams.

На заре голубые химеры

My fanciful thoughts

Смотрят в зеркале ярких небес.

are reflected in the bright heavens.

Убегаю в прошедшие миги,

These short moments will disappear,

Закрываю от страха глаза,

and the beautiful maiden’s

На листах холодеющей книги -

eyes will close,

Золотая девичья коса.

like the pages of a book.

Надо мной небосвод уже низок,

The canopy of the stars is now low,

Чёрный сон тяготеет в груди.

the darkest dreams lie heavy in the heart.

Мой конец предначертанный близок,

My end is near, fate has ordained it,

И война, и пожар - впереди…

with war and fire that lie before me…

Музыка

Music

В ночь, когда уснёт тревога

When the night brings peace,

И город скроется во мгле,

and the city is bathed in darkness,

О, сколько музыки у бога,

how heavenly is the music,

Какие звуки на земле!

what wonderful sounds can be heard!

Что буря жизни,

Forget the stormy hours of life,

Если розы твои цветут мне и горят!

when you can see the roses bloom!

Что человеческие слёзы,

Forget the sorrows of mankind,

Когда румянится закат!

when you see the crimson sunset.

Прими, Владычица вселенной,

O Sovereign of the Universe,

Сквозь кровь, сквозь муки, сквозь гроба

accept through pain, through blood,

Последней страсти кубок пенный

with the last passions of your unworthy slave.

От недостойного раба.

GHOST STORIES | 3 November

Тайные знаки

this cup, filled to the brim

English translations © Anne Evans, LiederNet Archive

23


GHOST STORIES | 3 November

PAUL STANHOPE

(born 1969)

Three Lorca Songs for soprano, violin, cello and piano (2012–2016) Song of the Moon Madrigals Song of the Seven Maidens (Theory of the Rainbow) I have, for a long time, been attracted to the poetry of Federico García Lorca. The richness of imagery, even when translated from Spanish into English, retains its startling colours that sparkle and leap off the page. Lorca’s love of music and ability to capture musicality within poetry made the setting of these texts a real joy. The set began with a commission from the Adelaide-based Benaud Trio and was completed in 2016 with the addition of a new first song, Song for the Moon, commissioned especially for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville where the complete set was first performed. Song of the Moon begins with a series of bell-like chords which echo through the movement. This night scene features musical evocations of the quietness of night as well as the surging of the sea and the crystalline imagery of cold moonlight. Taste and touch are an important part of the sensuality of this poem which is taken from a set of songs about the moon.

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Madrigals is one of a number of Lorca’s poems that refer to musical forms. A madrigal is a two-part form made popular in the early 17th century. Lorca mimics this traditional two-part structure here. The musical setting is reflective and has an improvisatory quality to it, and, like the first song, the harmonic language is somewhat impressionistic in nature. The first verse of this song is dominated by languid vocal lines and a devorative accompaniment dominated by the

piano. The second verse suggests a more hallucinatory experience. Set over drones in the string parts, the soprano part leaps to the high register and snakes its way through a series of intricate melismatic patterns. The final movement, Song of the Seven Maidens (Theory of the Rainbow), is a more jaunty, dance-like piece which takes its text from a series of ‘theory’ poems that play with the folk-like telling of legends. The Seven Maidens personify the colours and forms of the rainbow. The bright imagery of the poem prompted a rhythmically quirky response with pizzicato riffs perhaps hinting at the idea of Spanish guitar music. Numeric imagery is behind much of the musical construction of this song: rhythmic groupings of seven are prominent throughout, not only in 7/8 time signatures, but through the division of the ‘7’ rhythm into groups of 2 and 3. This creates cross-rhythmic patterns that propel the music forward. A middle section describing the ‘dying’ of the maidens is a brief respite from the dance which resumes and hurtles the movement toward its climax and then a more peaceful, flowing setting of the music, suggesting the image of a rainbow disappearing into a river at the end of the work. Paul Stanhope © 2012–2016 Song for the Moon was commissioned by Juliet Tootel, and the remaining movements commissioned by the Benaud Trio. Madrigals and Song of the Seven Maidens were premiered by Greta Bradman and the Benaud Trio in August 2012 at the Melbourne Recital Centre. The premiere performance of the Three Songs occurred at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville on 29 July 2016, performed by Valda Wilson (soprano), Indira Koch (violin), Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt (cello) and Timothy Young (piano).


FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA

II

(1898–1936)

I’m caught

Song for the Moon

in your concentric

When the moon appears

circles.

Bells fade out and impenetrable paths

Like Saturn I heave around rings

appear.

rings

When the moon appears

I cannot drown myself

the sea spreads over the land while the heart feels like an island of infinity. No one eats oranges Under the full moon Fruit should be eaten Green, ice cold. When the moon appears with its hundred faces all alike, silver coins are sobbing in pockets. The Moon Appears Madrigals I Like concentric waves on the water So are your words in my heart. Like a bird that collides into the wind So your kiss

from my dreams

GHOST STORIES | 3 November

TEXT

Nor am I rising, My Love! Madrigals Song of the Seven Maidens (Theory of the Rainbow) Singing, Seven young maidens singing (An arc across the sky with many sunsets) One soul with seven voices, The seven maidens. (In the white air, seven long birds.) Dying, the seven maidens dying. (Why weren’t there nine? Why weren’t there twenty?) The river takes them No one can see them. Song of the Seven Maidens

on my lips. Like fountains open

English translations by Natalie Shea and Paul Stanhope

to the evening So my black eyes on your skin. 25


GHOST STORIES | 3 November 26

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

(1770–1827)

Piano Trio No.5 in D, Op.70 No.1, ‘Ghost’ Allegro vivace e con brio Largo assai ed espressivo Presto Countess Marie Erdödy must have had the patience of a saint. A true believer in Beethoven’s greatness, she advised the composer on matters as varied as love and finance to the extent that he called her his ‘father confessor’. Around 1808 she brokered an arrangement with three young aristocrats, the Princes Kinsky, Lobkowitz and the Archduke Rudolf so that Beethoven would receive a permanent annuity, and offered him a suite of rooms in her apartment. (Beethoven, a shocking tenant with dubious personal hygiene, was incapable of settling anywhere for long. He moved house something like 47 times while he lived in Vienna.) The Countess thought she was doing the right thing, especially when, it seems, she started paying Beethoven’s manservant a considerable amount of money to stop him resigning in the face of constant abuse from his master. Beethoven immediately took this as evidence that she was paying the valet for sex and was hugely insulted to have been passed over for a servant! There was one of those scenes for which Beethoven was increasingly famous, and he moved house again. But for her pains the Countess received the dedication of the two Piano Trios, Op.70 and the Cello Sonatas, Op.102, and the Trios had their premiere, with Beethoven at the piano, in her apartments in 1809. Beethoven had launched his career with a set of Piano Trios, Op.1, in 1795, but it was not until 1808 that he returned to the genre with the Op.70 pair. By this time, as biographer Maynard Solomon argues, Beethoven ‘seemed to imbue many of his works with a sense of inner

repose that no longer required turbulent responses to grand challenges’. Significantly, from 1808 Beethoven dedicated himself almost exclusively to chamber music – where he could concentrate on lyricism and more subtle abstract aspects of musical design – until 1811. This Trio is not without drama – the contrasts of gesture in the first movement are a defining feature, and Beethoven’s manipulation of rhythmic motives and the overall movement of the harmony are breathtaking. But it is done with little or no bombast. As Solomon puts it, the work consists of ‘two unproblematic and relaxed movements flanking a powerful preRomantic largo’. Drama of a different sort, however, is involved in the slow movement. The pianist Carl Czerny wrote that it ‘resembles an appearance from the underworld. One could think not inappropriately of the first appearance of the ghost in Hamlet’ – and inadvertently gave the piece its nickname. In fact, as scholar William Kinderman points out, the ideas for the Largo alternate in Beethoven’s sketchbook with ideas for a projected opera of Macbeth which was to have followed Shakespeare in beginning with the witches. This might well have some bearing on the ghostly aspects of this work, which Kinderman defines as the ‘mysterious tremolos, chromatic textures and powerful dynamic contrasts’. Interestingly, Beethoven takes pains to give the movement an unfinished feeling, so that its mood is only resolved by the appearance of the final Presto. Gordon Kerry © 2005/2019 This is the first performance of this work by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.


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27


Farewell Sir Andrew Davis CHIEF CONDUCTOR

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 2013–2019

Sir Andrew’s love and enthusiasm for music is infectious. I will forever be grateful to him for opening my ears, and heart, to extraordinary pieces of music.

SOPHIE ROWELL, MSO CONCERTMASTER

Waiting in the wings with Sir Andrew ahead of our Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall, I contemplated our walk onto this iconic stage. In that moment he shot me his trademark cheeky grin, revealing just how much he adores performing in this arena. On that day, brimming with pride, he shared his world with all of us. Thank you, Sir Andrew – it has been an immense privilege to work with you.

DALE BARLTROP, MSO CONCERTMASTER

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Piers Lane plays Beethoven Friday 22 November 2019 | 7.30pm Saturday 23 November 2019 | 7.30pm Monday 25 November 2019 | 6.30pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sir Andrew Davis conductor Piers Lane AO piano MSO Chorus Warren Trevelyan-Jones chorus master ED FRAZIER DAVIS Fire of the Spirit [13'] WORLD PREMIER OF AN MSO COMMISSION*

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.1

[37']

— INTERVAL — VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No.5

[42']

Running time: approximately two hours and 10 minutes including a 20-minute interval. Timings listed are approximate. Pre-concert talk: 22 & 23 November at 6.15pm, Hamer Hall. Learn more about the performance at a pre-concert presentation with Assistant Principal Second Violin, Monica Curro. Post-concert conversation: 25 November, following performance, Hamer Hall Stalls Foyer. Join composer and ABC Classic producer Andrew Aronowicz for a conversation about the performance. Saturday’s performance is being recorded by ABC Classic for broadcast on 6 December 2019 and 18 January 2020. *Kindly gifted by the composer to celebrate Sir Andrew Davis’ tenure as Chief Conductor


Piers Lane AO

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.

London-based Australian pianist Piers Lane stands out as an engaging and highly versatile performer, at home equally in solo, chamber and concerto activities. His concerto repertoire alone exceeds ninety-five works and has led to engagements with many of the world’s great orchestras and conductors, including five performances at the BBC Proms. His regular chamber music collaborators include the Goldner String Quartet, violinist Tasmin Little, and cellist Zuill Bailey.

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.

piano

PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

Sir Andrew Davis

Piers is currently the Artistic Director of the Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia, and was the Artistic Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music for ten years until 2017. He has a discography of over 50 CDs, spanning a repertoire from Bach to Scriabin and Williamson. His most recent concerto disc for Hyperion features piano concerti by Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven’s contemporary and friend. In the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Honours, Piers was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for services to music.

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PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus

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.

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MSO Chorus Master

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.


found in the main melody; to me, this sonority was the most vivid harmonic representation of “fire” I could conceive.

ED FRAZIER DAVIS

This was my first time composing for an orchestra as large as the MSO, so I was thrilled to explore its vast potential for colour combinations. The orchestration includes a large battery of percussion and divisions in the strings up to 22 parts, as well as a number of extended techniques, my favourite of which combines the violins playing beneath the bridge with the cellos playing the “seagull effect” (championed by George Crumb) resulting in a ghostly soundscape, underpinning the text imploring to “guard those enchained in evil’s prison.” At one climax near the middle of the piece, I quote one of my favourite and most influential works, James MacMillan’s Quickening, as a tribute both to MacMillan and to Sir Andrew, who conducts the piece’s premiere performance.

(born 1989)

Fire of the Spirit The text for this work is available on the following page. My newest choral-orchestral work, Fire of the Spirit, was commissioned to celebrate Sir Andrew Davis’s final season as music director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Initially, I sought to find a joyous, celebratory text from an Australian writer, and while I discovered many beautiful and certainly singable works, I struggled to settle on something that not only felt appropriate for the occasion, but also meshed well with Sir Andrew’s personality. (I should clarify: Sir Andrew is my father, so I know him better than most!) Perhaps, I thought, the answer lay in a text from neither a British nor Australian writer, but rather from someone with historical relevance to the world at large. To that end, I settled on a text by 12th century polymath Hildegard of Bingen, one of the most impactful figures in all Western music history. Hildegard’s words exalt the Holy Spirit vividly and ecstatically, and my intent was to match this text with music of comparable ecstasy, richness, and complexity. The harmonic and melodic structure of Fire of the Spirit derives entirely from a twelve-note (though not duodecaphonic) melody, sung by the first sopranos on the opening words “O fire of the Spirit and Defender”; fragments of this melody are scattered throughout the work. The harmony often returns to a specific polychord: an A major 7 chord over a G major 7 chord, the defining pitches of which (the sevenths; G and F#, A and G#) are

PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

Program Notes

It has been an absolute joy to compose this work for my dad and the MSO, and to say that my inclusion in this special concert is an honour is a massive understatement. Ed Frazier Davis © 2019 This is the world premiere of an MSO commission, kindly gifted by the composer to celebrate Sir Andrew Davis’ tenure as Chief Conductor.

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PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

TEXT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN

(1098–1179)

Piano Concerto No.1 in C, Op.15

O fire of the Spirit and Defender, the life of every life created:

Allegro con brio

Holy are you—giving life to every form. Holy are you—anointing the critically broken. Holy are you —cleansing the festering wounds.

Rondo: Allegro scherzando

O breath of holiness, O fire of love, O taste so sweet within the breast that floods the heart with virtues’ fragrant good. O clearest fountain, in which is seen the mirrored work of God: to gather the estranged and seek again the lost. O living armour, hope that binds the every limb, O belt of honour: save the blessed. Guard those enchained in evil’s prison, and loose the bonds of those whose saving freedom is the forceful will of God. O mighty course that runs within and through the all— up in the heights, upon the earth, and in the every depth— you bind and gather all together. From you the clouds flow forth, the wind takes flight, the stones their moisture hold, the waters rivers spring, and earth viridity exudes. You are the teacher of the truly learned, whose joy you grant through Wisdom’s inspiration. And so may you be praised, who are the sound of praise, the joy of life, the hope and potent honour, and the giver of the gifts of light. English translation by Nathaniel Campbell

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LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

(1770–1827)

Largo

If we had to sum up this concerto in one word, that word would be brilliant. Here is twentysomething Beethoven, still a relative newcomer to Vienna, setting out to prove to the Viennese that he was a supremely gifted pianistcomposer who was confident enough, talented enough (and possibly arrogant enough) to take on the very genre – the piano concerto – that the Viennese knew backwards, thanks to the superlative examples unveiled by Mozart in that same city the previous decade. Dating from 1795, by which time Mozart was interred in an unmarked grave in Vienna’s St Marx cemetery, Beethoven’s C Major Piano Concerto takes some of its cues from Mozart’s concertos – notably the grand symphonic style and by-no-means-perfunctory writing for woodwind instruments – while at the same time demonstrates attributes, both large and small, which are unmistakably Beethovenian. First up, he offers the element of surprise. C major was the key of choice for military-style music at this time (it goes well with trumpets and drums) yet Beethoven commences the concerto with a few unremarkable phrases which are barely audible, until – boom! – he repeats them at full volume, with trumpets and timpani blazing. We’re off and running! But no sooner does Beethoven present us with C major in all its military glory when he leads us to quite a different place, the surprising key of E flat (at this point ushering in an important new theme). We wend our way back to the home key of C and the piano enters but, in another surprise, it’s a restrained and


The second movement takes us to an intimate, private space. Trumpets, timpani and oboes are momentarily banished and the key, A flat major, sets a mellow, dreamy backdrop (we’re a long way from the glare of C major). The opening theme passes through a number of iterations as the movement progresses, signalling, once again, Beethoven’s talent for improvisation. C major returns for the boisterous finale and in the closing moments we’re startled, as we were at the opening of the concerto, by a sudden outburst, a fortissimo statement which appears to come from nowhere. And with that, the curtain comes down on this most brilliant of concertos. Beethoven’s career in Vienna had just taken a great leap forward. Robert Gibson © 2019 The MSO first performed this concerto in 1939 with conductor Georg Szell and pianist Artur Schnabel, and most recently in September 2016 with Douglas Boyd and Paul Lewis.

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS

(1872–1958)

Symphony No.5 in D Preludio (Moderato) Scherzo (Presto) Romanza (Lento) Passacaglia (Moderato) Vaughan Williams’ Fifth Symphony is a work of extraordinary, exultant beauty, born in the depths of the Second World War. It was premiered at the Albert Hall on 24 June 1943, six months after Winston Churchill’s famous declaration of the ‘end of the beginning’ of the war. Conflict and violence had characterised Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony, written eight years earlier (1935), and in his succeeding symphony he chose to create its opposite, a work of sublime tranquillity and moral reassurance.

PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

unassuming entrance. Why? The answer might lie in Beethoven’s incomparable (and renowned) skills in improvisation. It is as though Beethoven, sitting at the piano (and bear in mind he was soloist at the concerto’s premiere) was feeding his audience something simple and straightforward at first (just a few doodles around a few common chords) before shortly revealing the full extent of his showmanship. And when that arrives, it comes in great, brilliant waves: tumbling broken chords, quickfire figuration and lightning-fast scale passages. Of course, he ratchets up the brilliance still further in the cadenza, towards the end of the movement. While Beethoven himself would have improvised the cadenza, he wrote out three in full in 1809, leaving it up to the performer to select one.

Much of the material of the Fifth Symphony derives from music Vaughan Williams had been working on for a projected opera of The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan’s story, first published in 1678, has lost its appeal to modern readers, and we are liable to think of it (most likely without ever having read it) as an empty piece of aged religious propaganda. But it was a story that worked powerfully on Vaughan Williams’ imagination from childhood to old age, bringing together many of the philosophical themes that were important to him. Above all, the book provides a vision of the heavenly Ideal. According to his wife, Ursula, Vaughan Williams did not consider himself a confirmed Christian, but adopted a state of ‘cheerful agnosticism’. Nevertheless, he understood the promise of heaven and its importance for individuals and for society. Perhaps this heaven can be read more rightly as ‘utopia’, but certainly its defining character is peacefulness. The musicologist Frank Howes, the composer’s colleague

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PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

and champion, observed that in this symphony Vaughan Williams is not only reflecting upon a world after the war, in which there is an ‘absence of armed conflict’, but aspires to essay a higher, spiritual condition of ‘peace, ultimate and fundamental’. This profound peaceful state is attained only after a considerable quest – the pilgrim’s journey. While thankfully the symphony doesn’t put us through a litany of trials like the pilgrim goes through, we nevertheless gain through its four movements a potent sense of a life’s journey through different emotional experiences. The symphony adopts a relatively formal classical symphonic structure, so we should avoid ascribing to it an excessively programmatic or narrative reading: the music can happily be left alone to communicate for itself. However, some of the symphony’s music also appears in Vaughan Williams’ other tellings of the Pilgrim’s Progress story, in particular a radio play from 1942 and an opera (more like a dramatic oratorio) performed in 1951. The symphony opens with an evocation of blissful, unsullied nature. Mellers concludes that this is the pilgrim’s journey in overview: an onward march with moments of threat and triumph, but without resolution or finality. The sinister presence comes forward more in the second movement, the scherzo, where the scurrying, ethereal music is like that with which Vaughan Williams describes Pilgrim’s fight with the devilish ‘hobgoblins’ in the opera.

36

The third movement is entitled Romanza, but even here the idyllic mood (its material similar to the opera’s Act I, Scene ii, ‘The House Beautiful’) is contrasted with music of agitation (from Act I, Scene i, where Pilgrim sings, ‘Save me, Lord! My burden is greater than I can bear’). Initially, Vaughan Williams appended a quotation from Bunyan to this movement: ‘He hath

given us rest by his sorrow and life by his death’ – an apt inscription in wartime, but perhaps at odds with the abstract nature of the symphony. The final movement is dominated by a glorious passacaglia on a hymn-like theme, rising to a great D major climax. But this is not the symphony’s end: an epilogue follows, which shares melodic material with the scene in the opera where Pilgrim passes over the River of Death, entering humbly but triumphantly into Paradise. These instances illustrate not so much a narrative underpinning, but a philosophical one for the symphony, namely that the pursuit of goodness and justice faces continual challenge from darker forces. The music’s structure reflects this philosophical purpose. While the structure of a classical symphony is present underneath the music, it is subjected to such richly imaginative and intuitive remodelling that we can barely recognise it. For the most part, the symphony proceeds by means of contrasts rather than by the traditional ‘argument’ or development based on key changes and thematic ‘conflict’. This gives the experience of listening to the symphony its powerful serenity. The harmonic language of the symphony also contributes to this sensibility, artfully combining ancient modality and pentatonic scales with contemporary tonality to create an extended, harmonically luscious sound-world. While the symphony is designated as D major, this tonality is quite hazy for most of the time. It’s only in the final movement that D major unequivocally asserts itself, but its triumph here is so emphatic that Mellers describes the key as representing ‘human fulfilment’. Abridged from a note by James Koehne © 2004 The MSO first performed this symphony on 26 May 1950 under conductor Colin Campbell Ross, and most recently in September 2007 with Martyn Brabbins.


REPETITEUR

ALTO

TENOR

Jane Matheson

Satu Aho Ruth Anderson Catherine Bickell Cecilia Björkegren Kate Bramley Jane Brodie Elize Brozgul Serena Carmel Alexandra Chubaty Nicola Eveleigh Lisa Faulks Jill Giese Jillian Graham Debbie Griffiths Ros Harbison Sue Hawley Jennifer Henry Kristine Hensel Helen Hill Joy Lukman Helen MacLean Shae Mahony Christina McCowan Rosemary McKelvie Stephanie Mitchell Sandy Nagy Catriona NguyenRobertson Natasha Pracejus Alison Ralph Mair Roberts Maya Tanja Rodingen Helen Rommelaar Kerry Roulston Annie Runnalls Lisa Savige Jenny Vallins Emma Warburton

Steve Burnett Peter Campbell Matthew Castle John Cleghorn Keaton Cloherty James Dipnall Simon Gaites David Henley Lyndon Horsburgh Wayne Kinrade Jessop Maticevski Shumack Dominic McKenna Michael Mobach Jean-Francois Ravat Nathan Guan Kiat Teo

SOPRANO Philippa Allen Emma Anvari Aviva Barazani Eva Butcher Aliz Cole Samantha Davies Rita Fitzgerald Catherine Folley Georgie Grech Aurora Harmathy Juliana Hassett Penny Huggett Tania Jacobs Gwen Kennelly Maya Kraj-Krajewski Judy Longbottom Ann Ng Tian Nie Caitlin Noble Susie Novella Karin Otto Tiffany Pang Jodie Paxton Tanja Redl Natalie Reid Janelle Richardson Jo Robin Jodi Samartgis Jillian Samuels Lydia Sherren Freja Soininen Elizabeth Tindall Katy Turbitt Fabienne Vandenburie Julia Wang Tara Zamin

PIERS LANE PLAYS BEETHOVEN | 22–25 November

MSO Symphony Orchestra Chorus

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

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Celebrating Sir Andrew Davis

Explore the life and career of one of the world’s great conductors. This limited-edition book commemorates Sir Andrew’s tenure with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra through his stories, memories from friends and colleagues, and photographs. $99 Regular price / $75 MSO Subscriber price

Available for purchase from the MSO Box Office, Hamer Hall beginning 22 November. Visit us Monday – Friday, 10am to 6pm, or pre-concert and intermission at MSO performances from 22 November to 8 December.


Hansel and Gretel in Concert Thursday 28 November 2019 | 7.30pm Saturday 30 November 2019 | 2pm Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Sir Andrew Davis conductor Elizabeth DeShong mezzo-soprano (Hansel) Laura Wilde soprano (Gretel) Topi Lehtipuu tenor (Witch) James Clayton bass (Father) Stacey Alleume soprano (Dew Fairy/Sandman) Elizabeth Campbell mezzo-soprano (Mother) National Boys Choir of Australia Australian Girls Choir HUMPERDINCK Hansel and Gretel, A Fairytale Opera in Three Acts [120']

Running time: approximately two hours and 20 minutes including a 20-minute interval between Act II and III. Sir Andrew Davis’ biography is available on page 31. Pre-concert talk: 28 November at 6.15pm & 30 November at 12.45pm, Hamer Hall. Learn more about the performance at a pre-concert presentation. Saturday’s performance is being recorded by ABC Classic for broadcast on 5 December.


Laura Wilde

During the 2019-20 season, Elizabeth DeShong will return to the Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera for performances as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She will sing Pauline in The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera of Chicago conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and make her debut at the Frankfurt Opera in a new production of Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero.

A 2019 Richard Tucker Foundation career grant recipient, Laura Wilde returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2020 to collaborate with Sir Andrew Davis on their Ring cycle (roles include Sieglinde in Die Walküre). She will also sing Agathe (Der Freischütz) and Marguerite (Faust) in Stuttgart and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Berkshire Opera Festival.

Last season, Ms. DeShong performed Adalgisa in Norma with North Carolina Opera, John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by the composer, and Handel’s Messiah with the San Francisco and Houston Symphonies, conducted by Jane Glover. Additional highlights were debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and a tour of Europe and the United States with The English Concert.

Recently she sang Mamah Cheney in Arizona Opera’s world premiere of Daron Hagen’s revised version of Shining Brow, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (Oper Stuttgart) and the title roles in Jenůfa (Santa Fe Opera) and Kátya Kabanová (Scottish Opera).

mezzo-soprano

Other orchestras with which she has performed include the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

soprano

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

Elizabeth DeShong

In recital, Laura Wilde has shared the stage with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and baritone Quinn Kelsey in the inaugural season of the Beyond the Aria recital series at Chicago’s Harris Theater. Orchestral repertoire includes Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 and Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Originally from South Dakota, Laura Wilde currently resides in Chicago.

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HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

Topi Lehtipuu

James Clayton

Topi Lehtipuu was born in Brisbane and brought up in Finland. He has worked with conductors including Emmanuelle Haïm, René Jacobs, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Daniel Harding; directors such as Peter Sellars and Barrie Kosky, and at venues such as the BBC Proms and Salzburg Festival.

Praised for his vocal phrasing and colour, James Clayton has been lauded by audiences and reviewers alike for his performances throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia. 2018–19 performances included Marcello (La bohème), Escamillo (Carmen), Leporello (Don Giovanni), The Forrester (The Cunning Little Vixen), Germont (La traviata), Judge Turpin (Sweeney Todd) and the title role in Macbeth for West Australian Opera. Concert performance highlights include Haydn’s Mass in Time of War with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Carmina Burana with Orchestra Wellington.

tenor

Recent career highlights have included creating the role of The Creature in Mark Gray’s Frankenstein, commissioned by Brussel’s Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, as well as collaborating with dance group the Tero Saarinen Company in Third Practice, a new multi-disciplinary dance and vocal project featuring music by Monteverdi. As an artistic consultant and curator, Top Lehtipuu was Director of the Helsinki Festival (2015–2018), as well as artistic director of the Turku Music Festival (2010–2015). His recordings include a 2012 Grammy-nominated DVD of The Rake’s Progress and the 2015 BBC Music Magazine award-winning DVD of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.

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bass

In 2020, James Clayton sings the title role in Macbeth for State Opera of South Australia, Alfio in Cavalleria rusticana for West Australian Opera, Tonio in Pagliacci and the title role in Elijah. His concert appearances include Brahms’ Requiem for the Tasmanian Symphony, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Messiah for New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and an Opera Gala for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.


Elizabeth Campbell

Australian-Mauritian soprano Stacey Alleaume received the Dame Joan Sutherland Scholarship for outstanding Australian operatic talent in 2016 and became a member of the Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artist Program at Opera Australia. In her first season with the company, Stacey Alleaume performed as Violetta Valery in La Traviata, Micaëla in Carmen and Flower Maiden 1 in Parsifal.

Elizabeth Campbell has performed with all the major Australian opera companies, symphony orchestras and choral societies and on the recital stage.

soprano

This season, she returns to Opera Australia for role debuts as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and as Princess Eudoxie in La juive, as well as a reprisal in the role of Violetta. Stacey Alleaume began the season with her debut at the Royal Opera House of Muscat as Frasquita in Carmen, after which she appeared in concert with the Tasmanian Symphony. Last season, Stacey Alleaume made her debut at the Bregenz Festival as Gilda in Rigoletto, in addition to performances as Sophie in Werther and Gilda with Opera Australia.

mezzo-soprano

Opera performances include leading roles in Carmen, Aida, The Ring Cycle, Salome, Elektra, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, Peter Grimes, The Turn of the Screw, Lulu, Werther, Xerxes, Giulio Cesare, La clemenza di Tito, Boris Godunov, The Rake’s Progress, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Hansel and Gretel, La forza del destino, Nabucco, Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, Capriccio, Little Women, Dead Man Walking, and the world premieres of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Batavia, The Love of the Nightingale and Lindy.

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

Stacey Alleume

Elizabeth’s recordings include Mahler’s Symphony No.2 and Song of the Earth, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Symphony No.9, Koehne’s Three Poems of Byron, Lindy, Hansel and Gretel, Messiah, Woman’s Song, Banquo’s Buried and State Opera’s Ring Cycle.

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HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

National Boys Choir of Australia

Australian Girls Choir

The National Boys Choir of Australia has been singing for over 50 years, and has a current enrolment of more than 200 treble-voiced choristers, who develop vocal production based on the traditional Italian bel canto style.

The Australian Girls Choir (AGC) was founded in 1984 by Judith Curphey OAM and has blossomed to an organisation with 6,500 choristers in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Boys present a challenging repertoire, including commissioned works and fully-staged children’s operas, musical comedy, art and folk songs.

The vibrant performances of the AGC have been embraced by millions worldwide. Singing for Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama, and at major events including the ‘Broadway to Oz’ Tour with Hugh Jackman, Australian Open Final and with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra just a few of their crowning achievements. Further afield, the AGC has toured on 43 occasions with their voices reaching almost every corner of the globe. Performances for Pope Benedict XVI and the King of Tonga, and appearances at the Shanghai World Expo and G’Day USA are just a few of their international accomplishments.

The Choir is regularly called upon to perform with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia and Victorian Opera, and has also performed at Carols by Candlelight at the Myer Music Bowl annually since 1988. The Choir is also well-known for its participation in the acclaimed ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ advertising campaigns for Qantas. The National Boys Choir of Australia is one of a small number of superb cultural organisations in Melbourne presenting high-quality performances, locally and internationally, proudly contributing to Australia’s rich and diverse cultural identity.

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The AGC is proud of their 20-year relationship with Qantas singing at live events and in the ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ advertising campaigns.


Hansel and Gretel begins with an overture that introduces a number of the important themes that will be heard later in the opera. Most significant, heard at first on four horns, is the Evening Prayer which will recur at key points, such as when the children, lost in the forest, try to buoy their courage in Act II and at the very end when Father gives thanks for the children’s rescue. The development of this innocent theme is interrupted by a trumpet, representing the ‘counter-charm’ by which the Witch is vanquished. We also hear the theme of the Dew Fairy, who drives sleep from the children’s eyes in Act III, and the dance melody heard at the end of the opera as the characters celebrate their victory over the Witch. Musical themes are combined ingeniously – this counterpoint is quite moving – and the Overture ends with the prayer music. Act I opens on a melody which could breflect Hansel and Gretel’s indolence. They are supposed to be doing chores but are more inclined to pine for food and stave off hunger with dance-songs, such as ‘First your foot you’ll tap tap tap’. Mother arrives home despondent at not being able to sell her wares. Angry with the children for slacking off, she sends them into the forest to find strawberries. Father comes home. ‘Tra-la-la-la’ he sings, happy to have sold his handmade brooms for a good profit. But he is alarmed to hear that the children have been sent into the Ilsenstein where dwell the ‘evil ones’ who cook children. He and Mother take off after them. The Witch’s Ride leads us into Act II. We may imagine the evil ones flying around during this interlude but the broad melody toward the end reassures us that a happy ending awaits..

In Act II Hansel and Gretel, having filled their baskets with strawberries (and begun eating them), realise they are lost. The Sandman dusts their eyelids with sand causing them to feel drowsy. They say their prayers and sleep. The pantomime which ends Act II, in which 14 angels descend to take care of the children, points to a religious undertone in this work, but there have been productions where the angels have been replaced by creatures of the forest, acknowledging the importance of ‘der Wald’ in German lore. Act III opens at daylight with the Dew Fairy’s arrival. Suddenly the children notice something they hadn’t seen the night before – a cottage built of all sorts of edibles. Not suspecting danger – even when they discover gingerbread in the shapes of children – they break off bits of cottage to eat, sparking the Witch into action. As she uses a spell to prevent their escape, they realise that they are next on her menu. Hansel is put in a cage to be fattened up and the Witch tries to get Gretel to look inside the oven to see what she’s baking (it’s a trick; she’ll push Gretel in). But Gretel pretends not to understand, the Witch demonstrates, and she herself is pushed into the oven.

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

Synopsis

At that, brother and sister realise that the gingerbread shapes around the cottage are children who have been bewitched. There is a moving, though subtle, suggestion of Gretel’s ‘coming-ofage’ in the way she empathically follows the children’s advice to touch their faces and release them from the Witch’s spell. Finally, Hansel and Gretel hear Father singing ‘tra la la la’ in the distance and they and their parents are reunited. Father reminds them of the sentiments of the Evening Prayer but the opera ends in a spirit of lively celebration.

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HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

Program Notes ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK

(1854–1921) Libretto:

ADELHEID WETTE

(1858–1916)

This work will be sung in German with English surtitles. Hansel and Gretel Music historians credit Humperdinck with showing classical musicians the way out of what could be called a ‘Wagnerian impasse’. At the end of the 19th century when composers were asking how they might possibly surpass Wagner’s pathsetting achievement, his massive Ring cycle and other mythically proportioned operas, Humperdinck’s answer was simple: turn back to fairytales and folksongs. And Humperdinck had the facility and talent to make a masterpiece out of such a stroke. Which leads me to even greater praise: Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel is arguably the most charming opera ever written. And let’s be clear, we’re talking about a composer who could be credited with making (in 1897’s melodrama Königskinder) the first use of Sprechgesang, the style of notated speech that became an important feature of early 20th century composition. Born in the Rhine Province, Engelbert Humperdinck composed his first work at the age of seven and, interestingly, given his later interest in theatre, two singspiels (operas in which dialogue alternates with sung numbers) at the age of 13. Though his parents would have preferred him to become an architect, he took music lessons at the Cologne Conservatory (where Ferdinand Hiller was director), later studying in Munich with Joseph Rheinberger.

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After winning the Berlin Mendelssohn Award in 1879, he went to Italy. Later, Humperdinck taught in Barcelona and back in Germany. Around the turn of the 20th century, he wrote incidental music for several of the great German theatre director Max Reinhardt’s productions, such as Vollmöller’s The Miracle (filmed in 1912) and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice (arguably Reinhardt’s most famous production after A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Besides Hansel and Gretel, the other thing people know about Humperdinck is that, during 1881-82, he assisted Wagner on his last opera, the semireligious Parsifal, staged at Wagner’s specially built festival theatre at Bayreuth. He had met Wagner in Naples in 1880 and struck up a warm mentor-protégé relationship with him. Though he later needed to stake out his own musical personality (and had complementary interests, for example, in Arabian and Moorish culture), Humperdinck was an enthusiastic acolyte at the beginning. He composed extra bars of Wagnerian music when it was found that the stage scenery for Parsifal’s transformation scenes moved too slowly for the amount of music Wagner had composed. They were consistent enough with Wagner’s style for Wagner – ever a man of the theatre – to reason ‘Well, why not?’ as a solution to this eleventh-hour problem (fixed the following year). Hansel and Gretel, Humperdinck’s most popular work (some would say his ‘one hit’), arose from a request from his sister Adelheid Wette for four settings of folksongs from the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel and Gretel for her children to perform. Humperdinck’s family persuaded him that the songs might then be extended into a singspiel and he composed 16 songs with connecting


Hansel and Gretel the opera was first performed in Weimar on 23 December 1893 under the baton of Richard Strauss, another young composer intent on finding his own voice in the wake of Wagner. Its popularity established from the outset, Hansel and Gretel became the first opera to be broadcast complete from Covent Garden in 1923. Opera first-timers enjoy it but there is plenty in the music to reward a seasoned listener. For a start, there is the felicitous creation of folk-like songs. This is apparent from the opening action when Hansel and Gretel, bored with their household chores, sing the dancesong – ‘First your foot you’ll tap tap tap’. And Humperdinck’s ability to create a sense of wonderment is evident, for example, in the lilting melody with which the children express their first whiff of the ‘delicious’ Gingerbread House – ‘The smells are so tempting/ With tantalising spice’. Delightful use is also made of dance rhythms – the witch’s death celebrated with a wonderfully exhilarating waltz, triple-time turning within triple-time. Much of the music is very straightforward – with the kind of simplicity that conceals great depth. Perhaps the most serious moment is ‘mother’s arioso’ when she despairs over the family’s dire situation. But the broad scope of Humperdinck’s operatic conception is apparent from the Witch’s Ride which bridges Acts I and II. The ‘Hexenritt’, as it’s sometimes called, progresses from folk-dance to rich orchestral tone-painting in under three minutes. The chilling polyrhythm created by tambourine reminds us that Humperdinck’s orchestra contains

rather more percussion than any orchestra of Wagner, although it’s actually the Wagner of the comic opera The Mastersingers of Nuremberg rather than the Wagner of Parsifal (on which he worked) that Humperdinck’s orchestration mostly recalls. Nor is Humperdinck’s treatment of theme particularly Wagnerian. Wagner’s leitmotifs – those short, pithy themes that represent a person, object or situation – were more amenable to far-reaching transformation. It would be truer to say that in Humperdinck we have fully-complete melodies that return at appropriate moments to create a reminiscence. The way the Evening Prayer that begins the overture recurs when the children need to coax themselves to sleep when lost in the forest and at the end, as thanksgiving after the witch has been killed, is more like the young Wagner’s recurring use of the Pilgrim’s Chorus in his early opera, Tannhäuser.

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

dialogue. From there it was but a step to a fully-fledged opera, with Wette’s dialogue sections now fully composed. (Is Adelheid Wette, therefore, the only female librettist in the standard opera repertoire?)

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel might be described as the Wagnerian universe seen through the eyes of a child. It is a wonderful combination of naivety and sophistication. Even the counterpoint is as delightful as children’s play. Truly Humperdinck achieved something charming with this work. But it’s interesting to compare this with the Brothers Grimm’s own version of the story. The Grimms’ Hansel and Gretel, first published in Kinderund Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812, portrays Hansel and Gretel’s mother deliberately abandoning the siblings in the forest so that she and her husband do not have the extra mouths to feed. The mother in Humperdinck and Wette’s version – and here she is the birth mother, not a stepmother – simply sends them out into the forest in a fit of temper she later regrets. 47


HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November 48

Hunger was definitely an underlying concern in this work, and particularly relevant, according to American opera commentator Basil de Pinto who points to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s squeezing of Germany’s economy at the time the opera was written in order to build up the German navy. And it’s possible that the Hansel and Gretel tale that Wilhelm Grimm heard from his friend Dortchen Wild originated in the Great Famine of 1315–17 when people resorted to cannibalism or abandoned children to fend for themselves. Differences between the Humperdinck/ Wette version and the Grimms’ were certainly discussed among Humperdinck’s circle of friends. Wolfram Humperdinck in his biography of his father mentions Humperdinck’s circle discussing how much emphasis should be laid on hunger and poverty along with acknowledging the loss of much-loved features of the Grimms’ tale such as Hansel’s creation of a path back to their house through the use of pebbles and breadcrumbs.

But the darkness is all lightly worn – perhaps Humperdinck’s most important lesson from working on Parsifal was simply how to treat old tales with the love and reverence they deserve. Humperdinck may be dismissed as a ‘one-hit wonder’ (by those who are unlikely to have written a single hit), and to call Hansel and Gretel ‘the lightest Wagnerian opera’, as I myself have done, might be underselling Humperdinck’s own achievement, but his worth has not gone unnoticed. The main belt asteroid 9913 Humperdinck, discovered in 1977, was named after him. It’s something nice to bear in mind when we reflect that Humperdinck is reported to have applied in 1914 to be founding director of the NSW Conservatorium. He didn’t get the post. On the eve of World War I it was not a good time for a German to be seeking employment in the British empire. Gordon Kalton Williams © 2019


Andrew Bainbridge Co-Artistic Director Philip Carmody Co-Artistic Director Aston Bell Hamish Bentley Liam Browne Wilson Cai Caelan Chong Lachlan Collins Oliver Dean Edmund Donoghue

Daniel Elias Mitchell Laurie Oscar Morriss Oliver Richardson Natsuki Rogers Tom Saro Patrick Schneider Charlie Banias Shilah Brown Oliver Blanchard Joshua Doan Sourav Gray

Hunter Greco Riki Lethbridge Jonathan Liew Noah Liu Simon Merry William Morrison Ryan Ong Will Parker Isaac Pearson Jason Zhao

Baillie Jackson Chloe James Alyssa Jandayan Holly Johnston Rani Kaushik Sophie Mandile Agnieshka Markwell Keira Murugasu Yasmin Naval-Thomas Abbey Pearce Chihana Perera

Madeleine Rea Sophie Robertson Bonnie Sheppard Sophie Sparks Natalie Symonds Nina Tan Kat Taplin Zoe Wakelin Clare Wever Scarlett Winter

HANSEL AND GRETEL IN CONCERT | 28–30 November

National Boys Choir of Australia

Australian Girls Choir Vicki King Artistic Director Piper Adeney Laura Alberti Lily Bradford Sophia Connor Areti D’Angelo Charlotte Dodson Sarah Dorman Daisy Evans Jaquelyn Gunn

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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 Carol Hay Graham Hogarth Rod Home Tony Howe Laurence O’Keefe and Christopher James 53


Supporters 54

Audrey M Jenkins John Jones George and Grace Kass Mrs Sylvia Lavelle Pauline and David Lawton Cameron Mowat David Orr Matthew O’Sullivan Rosia Pasteur Elizabeth Proust AO Penny Rawlins Joan P Robinson Neil Roussac Anne Roussac-Hoyne Suzette Sherazee Michael Ryan and Wendy Mead Anne Kieni-Serpell and Andrew Serpell Jennifer Shepherd Profs. Gabriela and George Stephenson Pamela Swansson Lillian Tarry Dr Cherilyn Tillman Mr and Mrs R P Trebilcock Michael Ullmer AO The Hon. Rosemary Varty Mr Tam Vu Marian and Terry Wills Cooke OAM Mark Young Anonymous (29) 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 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 Albert Henry Ullin

Jean Tweedie Herta and Fred B Vogel Dorothy Wood

EAST MEETS WEST PROGRAM PARTNERS Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China Li Family Trust Fitzroys Pty Ltd Noah Holdings Australia Pty Ltd Executive Wealth Circle Pty Ltd Arts@Collins International Gallery Pty Ltd Ocean King ViPlus Dairy Pty Ltd Long River Landream Mr Chu Wanghua and Dr Shirley Chu Associate Professor Douglas Gin and Susan Gin Wexchange LRR Family Trust Hengyi Chin Communications AusFocus


MSO BOARD

Life Members Marc Besen AC and Eva Besen AO John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC Sir Elton John CBE Harold Mitchell AC Lady Potter AC CMRI Mrs Jeanne Pratt AC

Chairman Michael Ullmer AO

Artistic Ambassador Tan Dun Artistic Ambassador Geoffrey Rush AC

Board Directors Andrew Dudgeon AM Danny Gorog Lorraine Hook Margaret Jackson AC Di Jameson David Krasnostein AM Hyon-Ju Newman Glenn Sedgwick Helen Silver AO

The MSO honours the memory of John Brockman OAM Life Member The Honourable Alan Goldberg AO QC Life Member Roger Riordan AM Life Member Ila Vanrenen Life Member

Supporters

HONORARY APPOINTMENTS

Deputy Chairman David Li AM Managing Director Sophie Galaise

Company Secretary Oliver Carton

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) $2,500+ (Associate) $5,000+ (Principal) $10,000+ (Maestro)

$20,000+ (Impresario) $50,000+ (Virtuoso) $100,000+ (Platinum)

The MSO Conductor’s Circle is our bequest program for members who have notified of a planned gift in their Will. Enquiries P (03) 8646 1551 | E philanthropy@mso.com.au 55


CALENDAR

OF EVENTS

7–8 December

13 December

13–14 December

Sir Andrew’s Messiah

Messiah

Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

Costa Hall, Geelong

Home Alone™ in Concert

25 January 2020

31 January 2020

5–14 February 2020

A live presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Chinese New Year

Sidney Myer Free Concerts

Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall

Sidney Myer Music Bowl

Plenary, MCEC

Tickets at mso.com.au


Thank you to our Partners Principal Partner

Government Partners

Premier Partners

Premier Education and Research Partner

Major Partners

Venue Partner

Program Development Partner

Education Partners

Supporting Partners

Quest Southbank

The CEO Institute

Ernst & Young

Bows for Strings

The Observership Program

Trusts and Foundations

Gall Family Foundation, The Archie & Hilda Graham Foundation, The Gross Foundation, Ern Hartley Foundation, The A.L. Lane Foundation, Gwen & Edna Jones Foundation, Sidney Myer MSO Trust Fund, MS Newman Family Foundation, The Thomas O’Toole Foundation, The Ray & Joyce Uebergang Foundation, The Ullmer Family Foundation

Media and Broadcast Partners


BEST SEAT in the house

As Principal Partner of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, we know the importance of delighting an audience. That’s why when you’re in Emirates First, you’ll enjoy the ultimate flying experience with fine dining at any time in your own private suite.

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