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RAY CHEN 15 March 2019

Esplanade Concert Hall

Performing Home of the SSO Andrew Litton, conductor Ray Chen, violin Singapore Symphony Orchestra With the Singapore National Youth Orchestra

15 Mar 19, Fri Guest-of-Honour Mrs Rosa Daniel CEO, National Arts Council

SSO GALA: RAY CHEN Singapore Symphony Orchestra Singapore National Youth Orchestra Andrew Litton, conductor ALEXANDER BORODIN

Overture to Prince Igor 10’


Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 26’

1. Allegro moderato 2. Andante assai 3. Allegro ben marcato

Ray Chen, violin

Intermission 20’

PYOTR ILYICH Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 50’ TCHAIKOVSKY 1. Andante – Allegro con anima 2. Andante cantabile con alcuna licenza 3. Valse. Allegro moderato 4. Finale. Andante maestoso – Allegro vivace Post-concert autograph signing with Ray Chen in the stalls foyer Concert duration: 2 hrs

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S ing a p or e S y mp hon y Or c he s t r a Since its founding in 1979, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) has been Singapore’s flagship orchestra, touching lives through classical music and providing the heartbeat of the cultural scene in the cosmopolitan city-state. In addition to its subscription series concerts, the orchestra is well-loved for its outdoor and community appearances, and its significant role educating the young people of Singapore. The SSO has also earned an international reputation for its orchestral virtuosity, having garnered sterling reviews for its overseas tours and many successful recordings.

Concert Hall. More intimate works and all outreach and community performances take place at the 673-seat Victoria Concert Hall, the home of the SSO. The orchestra performs 100 concerts a year, and its versatile repertoire spans all-time favourites and orchestral masterpieces to exciting cutting-edge premieres. Bridging the musical traditions of East and West, Singaporean and Asian musicians and composers are regularly showcased in the concert season. This has been a core of the SSO’s programming philosophy from the very beginning under Choo Hoey, who was Music Director from 1979 to 1996.

The SSO makes its performing home at the 1,800-seat state-of-the-art Esplanade

Under the Music Directorship of Lan Shui from 1997 to Jan 2019, the SSO has performed

in Europe, Asia and the United States. In May 2016 the SSO was invited to perform at the Dresden Music Festival and the Prague Spring International Music Festival. This successful five‑city tour of Germany and Prague also included the SSO’s return to the Berlin Philharmonie after six years. In 2014 the SSO’s debut at the 120th BBC Proms in London received critical acclaim in the major UK newspapers The Guardian and Telegraph. The SSO has also performed in China on multiple occasions. Notable SSO releases under BIS include a Rachmaninoff series, a “Seascapes” album, two Debussy discs “La Mer” and “Jeux”, and the first-ever cycle of Tcherepnin’s piano concertos

and symphonies. The SSO has also collaborated with such great artists as Lorin Maazel, Charles Dutoit, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Neeme Järvi, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Diana Damrau, Martha Argerich, Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos and Gil Shaham. The SSO is part of the Singapore Symphony Group, which also manages the Singapore Symphony Choruses, and the Singapore National Youth Orchestra. The mission of the Group is to create memorable shared experiences with music. Through the SSO and its affiliated performing groups, we spread the love for music, nurture talent and enrich Singapore’s diverse communities.

SINGAPORE NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA VISION To inspire a lifelong love for music and a dedication to exceptional orchestral performance MISSION Through the playing of orchestral classical music, we nurture future generations of musicians and build a vibrant music community for Singapore A leading orchestra dedicated to the training of young orchestral musicians, the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) occupies a special place in Singapore’s music community. SNYO alumni have gone on to become full-time musicians in Singapore and with orchestras around the world. Many are also educating the next generation of musicians and playing significant roles in the growth of Singapore’s vibrant cultural scene. The Orchestra’s roots can be traced to the early 20th century before moving within the purview of Ministry of Education in 1980. In 2015, SNYO became part of the Singapore Symphony Group, which also manages the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Recognised by the Ministry of Education as a National Project of Excellence, members in mainstream secondary schools with sustained involvement in the SNYO will have their participation in the orchestra recognised in lieu of a school-based Co-Curricular Activity (CCA). Entry into the SNYO is by a rigorous audition process. The Orchestra currently comprises over 180 talented young musicians aged 10 to 21, representing more than 60 schools across Singapore. Consisting of two orchestras – the main orchestra and a junior orchestra, the SNYO boasts a distinctive music talent development programme where members receive tutoring from professionals, including those from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, the SNYO has performed in concert venues and music festivals across Australia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. In their recent tour in December 2018, the SNYO performed in the Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall. At the start of the 2018/19 season, Joshua Tan assumed the position of Principal Conductor with the SNYO and Peter Stark was appointed as its first-ever Principal Guest Conductor.

As a broad-based grantmaking organisation, Tote Board works closely with stakeholders and partners, to support broad and diverse worthy projects in the sectors of Arts, Community Development, Education, Health, Social Service and Sports. Through these projects, Tote Board helps to uplift the community by giving hope to vulnerable groups and improving the lives of all in Singapore. Tote Board’s goal is to help build a flourishing society in Singapore. We want to inspire positive change and contribute towards building an inclusive, resilient and vibrant community, while fostering a caring and compassionate nation. @ToteBoardSG




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ANDREW LITTON conductor Named Principal Guest Conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 2017, Andrew Litton is also Music Director of the New York City Ballet, where he recently extended his contract through 2022. Litton was Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony from 19881994, producing 14 recordings, including the Grammy-winning Belshazzar’s Feast. As Music Director of the Dallas Symphony from 1994-2006, he hired over one third of the players, led the orchestra on three major European tours, appeared four times at Carnegie Hall, created a children’s television series broadcast nationally and used in school curricula, produced 28 recordings, and helped raise the orchestra’s endowment from $19 million to $100 million. He regularly guest conducts leading orchestras and opera companies around the globe and adds to his discography of over 130 recordings, which have garnered America’s Grammy Award, France’s Diapason d’Or and other honours. This season, besides conducting over 30 ballets at the New York City Ballet, Litton returns to the Singapore Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra,

Bergen Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, and the Utah Symphony among others. He will also make his debut with the Norwegian Opera and Ballet. Litton’s work with New York City Ballet has earned praise from critics, dancers, and audiences. An accomplished pianist, he often performs as a piano soloist, conducting from the keyboard, most recently Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in Singapore. An acknowledged expert on Gershwin, Litton has performed and recorded Gershwin widely as both pianist and conductor and serves as Advisor to the University of Michigan Gershwin Archives. Born in New York City, Litton has Bachelor’s and Masters degrees from the Juilliard School in piano and conducting. His many honours include Norway’s Order of Merit, Yale’s Sanford Medal, the Elgar Society Medal, and an honorary Doctorate from the University of Bournemouth.

RAY CHEN violin Ray Chen is a violinist who redefines what it is to be a classical musician in the 21st century. With a media presence that enhances and inspires the classical audience, Ray Chen’s remarkable musicianship transmits to a global audience that is reflected in his engagements with the foremost orchestras and concert halls around the world. Initially coming to attention via the Yehudi Menuhin (2008) and Queen Elizabeth (2009) Competitions, of which he was First Prize winner, he has built a profile in Europe, Asia, and the USA as well as his native Australia both live and on disc. Signed in 2017 to Decca Classics, the summer of 2017 has seen the recording of the first album of this partnership with the London Philharmonic as a succession to his previous three critically acclaimed albums on SONY. Profiled as “one to watch” by The Strad and Gramophone magazines, his profile has grown to encompass his featuring in the Forbes list of 30 most influential Asians under 30, a multi-year partnership with Giorgio Armani and performing at major media events such as France’s Bastille Day, the Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm, and the BBC Proms.

His presence on social media makes Ray Chen a pioneer in an artist’s interaction with their audience, utilising the new opportunities of modern technology. His appearances and interactions with music and musicians are instantly disseminated to a new public in a contemporary and relatable way. His commitment to music education is paramount, and inspires the younger generation of music students with his series of self-produced videos combining comedy and music. Born in Taiwan and raised in Australia, Ray was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music at age 15, where he studied with Aaron Rosand and was supported by Young Concert Artists. He plays the 1715 “Joachim” Stradivarius violin on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation. This instrument was once owned by the famed Hungarian violinist, Joseph Joachim (1831–1907).

SSO MU SICIAN S joshua tan Associate Conductor andrew litton Principal Guest Conductor Choo Hoey Conductor Emeritus Lan Shui Conductor Laureate Eudenice Palaruan Choral Director WONG LAI FOON Choirmaster

FIRST VIOLIN Igor Yuzefovich1 Concertmaster, The GK Goh Chair Dennis Kim^ Concertmaster Lynnette Seah2 Co-Concertmaster Kong Zhao Hui* Associate Concertmaster Chan Yoong-Han Fixed Chair Cao Can* Chen Da Wei Duan Yu Ling Foo Say Ming Gu Wen Li Jin Li Cindy Lee Karen Tan William Tan Wei Zhe SECOND VIOLIN Lisa Obert^ Principal Michael Loh Associate Principal Hai-Won Kwok Fixed Chair Nikolai Koval* Chikako Sasaki*

Margit Saur Shao Tao Tao Wu Man Yun* Xu Jue Yi* Ye Lin* Yeo Teow Meng Yin Shu Zhan* Zhang Si Jing* Zhao Tian* VIOLA Zhang Manchin Principal Guan Qi Associate Principal Gu Bing Jie* Fixed Chair Marietta Ku Luo Biao Julia Park Shui Bing Tan Wee-Hsin Janice Tsai Wang Dandan Yang Shi Li CELLO Ng Pei-Sian Principal Yu Jing Associate Principal Guo Hao Fixed Chair Chan Wei Shing Song Woon Teng Wang Yan Wang Zihao* Wu Dai Dai Zhao Yu Er DOUBLE BASS Janne Johansson^ Principal Yang Zheng Yi Associate Principal Karen Yeo Fixed Chair Olga Alexandrova Jacek Mirucki Guennadi Mouzyka Wang Xu FLUTE Jin Ta Principal Evgueni Brokmiller Associate Principal Roberto Alvarez Miao Shanshan



Roberto Alvarez Assistant Principal

Jon Paul Dante Principal David Smith Associate Principal Lau Wen Rong Sergey Tyuteykin

OBOE Rachel Walker Principal Pan Yun Associate Principal Carolyn Hollier Elaine Yeo COR ANGLAIS Elaine Yeo Associate Principal CLARINET Ma Yue Principal Li Xin Associate Principal Liu Yoko Tang Xiao Ping

TROMBONE Allen Meek Principal Damian Patti Associate Principal Samuel Armstrong BASS TROMBONE Wang Wei Assistant Principal TUBA Brett Stemple^ Principal TIMPANI

BASS CLARINET Tang Xiao Ping Assistant Principal

Christian Schiøler Principal Jonathan Fox Associate Principal



Wang Xiaoke Principal Liu Chang Associate Principal Christoph Wichert Zhao Ying Xue

Jonathan Fox Principal Mark Suter Associate Principal Lim Meng Keh Zhu Zheng Yi



Zhao Ying Xue Assistant Principal

Gulnara Mashurova Principal

HORN Han Chang Chou Principal Gao Jian Associate Principal Jamie Hersch Associate Principal Marc-Antoine Robillard Associate Principal Hoang Van Hoc

*With deep appreciation to the Rin Collection for their generous loan of string instruments. Igor Yuzefovich plays an instrument generously loaned by Mr & Mrs G K Goh Lynnette Seah performs on a J.B. Guadagnini of Milan, c. 1750, donated by the National Arts Council, Singapore, with the support of Far East Organization and Lee Foundation. ^Musician on temporary contract Musicians listed alphabetically by family name rotate their seats on a per programme basis.

1 2

SNYO MU SICIAN S joshua tan Principal Conductor LIN JUAN Associate Conductor PETER STARK Principal Guest Conductor

Sun Xiaoqing Reina Teo Wei En Monica Toh Song Fen Angelina Wong Yin Leng VIOLA Timothy Cher Zhi Xian Natalie Hee Shao Jing Joelle Hsu Min Elizabeth Ip Xin En Linnea Lei Ng Johansson Lai Tin Long Lee Soohyurn Kristabelle Loke Shan Yuan Ng Tze Yang



Dominique Braam Joanne Chan Wai Mun Joelle Chiam Yan Lin Ethan Chong Gin Leen Myra Rena Choo Jia En Ashley Foong Shu Yan Alyssa Goh Hui Yi Andre Hee Shao Jun Katherine Anne Lau Enqi Jalen Ng Soh Yi Han Ezekiel Tan Xin An Ethan Wong Yii Sarah Wong Ee Min Yeong Jun Kai

Joash Chee Zi Zuan Chloe Chen Jiaen Chen Youjia Chew Hanlin Choon Hong Tzin Esther Chung Xin Yue Goh Jue Shao Li Ziyi Isaac Tah Shern U Joanne Wong Wei Yin

SECOND VIOLIN Gwee Kang Ting Ashley Hsu Shien Sean Woosung Jang Ian Ming-Ren Lai Megan Law Zhiyi Megan Lim Pei Xuan Napin Limcharoen Alexandra Loh Wei Ling Shi Fangxin Megan Song Ying Hui

DOUBLE BASS Damien Chew Chong Yee Ching Charis Hadjisophocleous Javier Heng Hong Jingmin Mark Lee Zhi Ying Kaitlyn Wong Ying Jie FLUTE Clement Chan Gail Gay Natasha Lee Yu Xian Natalie Ngai Cheuk Nam Julien Quek Jun Hao Janelle Yuen Feng Min



Joy Liu Tongrui Quek Jun Rui Zhou Xinru

Jordan Tan Jing Han

CLARINET Jin Mei Xuan Callista Neo BASSOON Jove Fong Yi Liang Rachel Ng Wei Ting Shi Jiaao Rebecca Tan See Weng HORN Luke Chong Khi Sian Andrew Jonathan Lee Petrola Sean Lloyd Biescas Jaben Sim Yun Heng Linnet Sim Yun Juan TRUMPET Himari Ang Lixin Chan Haowei Foong Jun Yu Shi Ruixin TROMBONE Reema Chatterjee Su Shiqi Toh Chang Hui BASS TROMBONE Martin Ong Shao Jie

PERCUSSION Ang Jo Wee Amos Choo Xu Ze Chloe Lim Miranda Vareck Ng Ho Wei Irza Ahsan Pramana Tristan Seow Kevin Tan Han Ming HARP Carissa Ho Min-Yi Chloe Lam Zhuo Yi Chloe Liow Yi Yin

S CHOOL S , COL L EGE S AND IN S TIT U TION S REPRE SENTE D IN THE SINGAPORE NATIONA L YO U TH ORCHE S TRA Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School Anglican High School Anglo-Chinese Junior College Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) Bedok South Secondary School Bukit Merah Secondary School Canberra Primary School Catholic High School Catholic Junior College Changkat Changi Secondary School CHIJ (Katong) Primary CHIJ St. Joseph's Convent CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls' School CHIJ St. Theresa's Convent Chung Cheng High School (Main) Crescent Girls' School Dunman High School Dunman Secondary School Eunoia Junior College Evergreen Secondary School Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary) French School of Singapore Fuchun Primary School German European School Singapore Geylang Methodist School (Secondary) Hwa Chong Institution Hwa Chong International School International Community School ITE College Central Lakeside Primary School

Maris Stella High School Methodist Girls' School (Primary) Methodist Girls' School (Secondary) Nan Chiau Primary School Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Nanyang Girls' High School Nanyang Junior College National Junior College National University of Singapore Ngee Ann Polytechnic Ngee Ann Secondary School NUS High School of Math and Science Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) Raffles Institution Republic Polytechnic River Valley High School School of the Arts, Singapore Singapore Chinese Girls' School Singapore Polytechnic St. Joseph's Institution International St. Margaret's Primary School St. Stephen's School Tanjong Katong Girls' School Tanjong Katong Secondary School Temasek Junior College Temasek Primary School United World College of South East Asia Victoria Junior College Victoria School Yishun Innova Junior College Yishun Secondary School Yu Neng Primary School

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Thank you for attending SSO Gala: Ray Chen

A one-of-a-kind concert combining the epic soundtracks of games like World of Warcraft, Skyrim and Final Fantasy VIII with classical greats from Mozart's Requiem, Holst's Mars, The Bringer of War and the final chorus from Carmina Burana. That's right, the choir's involved too!

VIDEO GAMES CLASSICS ESPLANADE CONCERT HALL 5 APR 2019 Eímear Noone, conductor Victoria Songwei Li, soprano Jade Tan, mezzo-soprano Singapore Symphony Youth Choir & Friends Wong Lai Foon, choirmaster

Just 20 this year, Chinese violinist He Ziyu has already made waves on the international stage, including the honour of being the youngest ever violinist to be invited to play with the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. He performs Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4 with SSO's founding conductor, Maestro Choo Hoey.

MAESTRO CHOO HOEY ESPLANADE CONCERT HALL 18 APR 2019 He Ziyu, violin Choo Hoey, conductor

Another young violin talent arrives at the Esplanade - Korean-German violinist Stefan Jackiw, with the familiar melodies of Mendelssohn's popular Violin Concerto. This all-Mendelssohn programme promises to be a rich and appealing concert, featuring the inspiring seascapes of the Hebrides Overture and the highland verve of the Scottish Symphony.


Our very own SSO musicians come together at the VCH for an evening of chamber greats by Schubert and Dvoล™รกk, including the former's heartfelt Death and the Maiden quartet and the latter's String Quintet No. 2 for quartet plus double bass.

DEATH AND THE MAIDEN VICTORIA CONCERT HALL 17 MAY 2019 Chan Yoong-Han, violin Chen Da Wei, violin Nikolai Koval, violin Zhang Si Jing, violin Guan Qi, viola Gu Bing Jie, viola Ng Pei-Sian, cello Wang Zihao, cello Yang Zheng Yi, double bass

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HEART F E LT APPRECIATION TO S S O 4 0 t h A nni v e r s a r y A p p e a l Donor s We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all our patrons who have responded to the SSO's 40th Anniversary Appeal so far. It would be impossible for our national orchestra to continue to strive for artistic excellence, touch the hearts of Singaporeans with our music, and make Singapore proud, if we didn't have ardent patrons like you. Thank you for your generosity!

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a chamber weekend with musicians of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra

17 MAY 7.30pm

Death and the Maiden

18 MAY 7.30pm

Temptation of the Saintly Pot

19 MAY 4pm

Brass Ensemble of the SSO

featuring strings of the SSO

featuring woodwinds of the SSO


A L E X ANDER B ORODIN (18 3 3–18 87 ) Overture to Prince Igor 10’ Some of the leading Russian composers of the 19th century had careers in fields other than music. Notably, Tchaikovsky started as a lawyer and Rimsky-Korsakov a naval officer, before each turned to focus on music full-time. Borodin loved organic chemistry, made fireworks and dabbled in chemical electricity before becoming a chemist. Borodin enjoyed his musical pursuits too: he formed his own string quartet while in university and his science professor thought he spent too much time on music. He looked to balance chemistry and music throughout his life, and was also influenced by his wife, Ekaterina Protopova, who was an advocate of women’s rights. He later co-founded the School of Medicine for Women in St. Petersburg and regarded it as his greatest achievement. With these many activities competing for his time, Borodin left Prince Igor – regarded by some to be his greatest musical achievement – uncompleted. An opera in four acts, Prince Igor tells of the Russian Prince Igor Svyatoslavich’s campaigns against the invading Polovtsian tribes. Borodin’s friends Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov edited and completed the opera after his death in 1887. RimskyKorsakov described how they divided the work: “Glazunov and I settled the matter

Instrumentation 2 flutes piccolo 2 oboes 2 clarinets 2 bassoons 4 horns 2 trumpets 3 trombones tuba timpani strings World Premiere 4 Nov 1890, St. Petersburg (Opera) First performed by SSO 17 & 18 Nov 2000

as follows between us: he was to fill in all the gaps in Act III and write down from memory the Overture played so often by the composer, while I was to orchestrate, finish composing, and systematise all the rest that had been left unfinished and unorchestrated by Borodin.” Glazunov later clarified his role in re-writing the Overture in his memoirs, recounting, “The overture was composed by me roughly according to Borodin's plan. I took the themes from the corresponding numbers of the opera and was fortunate enough to find the canonic ending of the second subject among the composer's sketches. I slightly altered the fanfares for

the overture ... The bass progression in the middle I found noted down on a scrap of paper, and the combination of the two themes (Igor's aria and a phrase from the trio) was also discovered among the composer's papers. A few bars at the very end were composed by me.”

SERGEI PROKOF IEV (18 91–195 3)

Borodin’s abundant melodic gifts shine in this overture – the calm opening is abruptly broken by strident fanfares, calling forth a bright and bold theme. Many rich melodies pour forth, some malleable and pliant, some assertive – the opera is about war after all – before the fanfares return to bring the overture to a stirring close.

Prokofiev left Russia in 1918 for the United States in the wake of the First World War and two Russian Revolutions. What followed was 15 years of shuttling between cities in the west, and performing as a concert pianist.

Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 26’

Just before returning, Prokofiev wrote in a Soviet newspaper in 1934, “what we need is great music ... it must be melodious … the melody must be simple and comprehensible, without being repetitive or trivial... We must seek a new simplicity.” This focus on simple, comprehensible melody is most evident in both his ballet


Prokofiev wrote the Second Violin Concerto for Robert Soetens, who had previously impressed him when premiering his Sonata for Two Violins with Samuel Dushkin. Stravinsky had just written a concerto for Dushkin, so Prokofiev decided to write one for Soetens in 1934, completing it in 1935. He was on a concert tour with Soetens during this time and remarked, “the number of places in which I wrote the Concerto shows the kind of nomadic concert-tour life I led then. The main theme of the first movement was written in Paris, the first theme of the second movement at Voronezh, the orchestration was finished in Baku and the premiere was given in Madrid.” Soon after, Prokofiev returned to Russia for good.

Romeo and Juliet and this Concerto. A simple melody opens the first movement, with the solo violin gently ruminating upon what is effectively a G minor chord, before Prokofiev gently engages in one of his trademark harmonic shifts as the orchestra creeps in. In time, a gently rocking transition leads us to the second theme – a lushly lyrical statement on the violin, sweeping downwards with élan, and echoed regally in the horns. The solo violin and orchestra muse on these two themes – at times spinning sentimental and dreamy pirouettes, and at other times brashly commenting on them. A gentle accompaniment leads us into the fairytale-like second movement, and the solo violin soars on the wings of a long-breathed aria. Prokofiev expounds on this gloriously inspired tune as it grows in passion with each passing repetition. A slightly more agitated and mechanistic central episode soon gives way to a glorious reprise of the movement’s main melody, this time with the orchestral violins soaring high, garlanded by the solo violin’s rhapsodic arabesques. A bright castanet-led dance permeates the last movement. Dramatic dissonances, displaced rhythms and sudden interruptions dispel the previous movement’s dreamy oasis, while the action is constantly driven onwards by the bass drum. There is a brief intensely expressive moment for the solo violin, before this too is cast to one side. The dance, now clothed with barely concealed menace, careens wildly and stumbles to a tumultuous end.

Instrumentation 2 flutes 2 oboes 2 clarinets 2 bassoons 2 horns 2 trumpets cymbals, triangle, castanets, bass drum, snare drum strings World Premiere 1 Dec 1935, Madrid First performed by SSO 17 & 18 Jan 1986 (Stephanie Chase, violin)

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Tchaikovsky tried to adapt his selfcontained melodies to match the rigorous symphonic structures to varying degrees of success. In the past, many had criticised him for being unable to master the form, but recently, more have regarded his symphonies to be an innovative fusion of two seemingly incompatible musical philosophies. It is in his Fifth Symphony where Tchaikovsky came closest to the German ideal on their terms – breaking up and developing motifs, and utilising a recurring theme to unify all four movements. He did this while being true to his musical instincts – with great melodies, characteristic moments of balletic grace and emotional outbursts.

has looked kindly upon this symphony, with countless performances yearly by orchestras of every level around the world. Clarinets introduce the Fifth’s recurring theme from the outset of the first movement, sombre over deep string chords. The pace slowly picks up as the strings march forward, and the music intensifies before it then lightens up. Woodwinds sound a clarion call twice, and a melancholic, sighing second theme is introduced in the violins. This is eventually taken up by the full orchestra and built into a sweeping climax. These themes are broken up and they chase each other across the musical expanse, as the music is developed to new emotional heights. In spite of this extensive journey, the atmosphere is darkened towards the end, and Tchaikovsky returns to the gloomy


He wrote the symphony in the summer of 1888 after concluding his three-month concert tour in Europe. It was a painful process, during which he exclaimed, “I have no ideas or inspiration whatsoever!” though “gradually, and with some Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 50’ difficulty, I am squeezing the symphony out of my dulled brain.” Eventually, Tchaikovsky completed it in late August, Tchaikovsky was perhaps one of the and conducted the premiere in November finest melodists to have ever lived – with that year. his earworm-inducing ballet scores for Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The While the symphony was enthusiastically Nutcracker rightly regarded as timeless received by both the audience and the masterpieces. His love for Russian folk orchestra, Tchaikovsky was surprisingly song filtered through to his compositions, dismissive, writing that the “symphony in which melodies are broadly conceived. is a failure. There is something repulsive While these melodies worked well for the about it, a certain excess of gaudiness, ballets, they were not easily broken up into insincerity, and artificiality. And the public fragments or “developed” in the sense of instinctively recognises this.” In spite of the Germanic Symphony. the composer’s insecure misgivings, history

mood in which the movement began. Deep string chords begin the second movement, but this time, filled with warmth. The solo horn steals in with one of Tchaikovsky’s most inspired melodies, to which the oboe yearningly replies. The strings take these themes and bring them to a great impassioned climax – a far cry from the uneasiness of the preceding movement – even as the recurring theme knocks ominously at the door. Instead of a traditional minuet or scherzo, Tchaikovsky introduces a waltz (“Valse”) to the Symphony in the third movement. Its simple charm provides a remarkable juxtaposition to the other movements, and he even finds room to provide some balletic, virtuoso writing for the strings and winds in the trio. The recurring theme appears quietly, chameleon-like, towards the end of the movement to remind us that this waltz is but a temporary oasis in a larger, more serious symphony. Strings announce a transformation of the recurring theme in the fourth movement, this time clothed in majestic major tones. This affirmative chorale gives way over a timpani roll into a furiously driven dance. Through this stormy whirl of furious energy, several themes – notably a long-breathed one sung by the winds – emerge. After a short pause, the majestic theme reappears exultantly, leading a magnificent march which soon transforms into a frenzied rush to the Symphony’s triumphant end – complete with a symbolic flourish. Programme notes by Christopher Cheong

Instrumentation 3 flutes, 1 doubling on piccolo 2 oboes* 2 clarinets* 2 bassoons* 4 horns 2 trumpets* 3 trombones tuba timpani strings * These parts are doubled for tonight's concert World Premiere 17 Nov 1888, St. Petersburg First performed by SSO 12 & 13 Mar 1982

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