CLASSICS OLD AND NEW
Sydney Sebastian Lang-Lessing Chief Conductor & Artistic Director
CLASSICS OLD AND NEW
THURSDAY 14 OCTOBER 7PM City Recital Hall Angel Place Sebastian Lang-Lessing conductor Vadim Gluzman violin RAVEL
Le tombeau de Couperin Prélude Forlane Menuet Rigaudon Duration 17 mins
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No 2 Allegro moderato Andante assai – Allegretto – Andante assai, come prima Allegro, ben marcato Duration 26 mins
INTERVAL Duration 20 mins
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Duration 10 mins
BEETHOVEN Symphony No 8 Allegro vivace e con brio Allegretto scherzando Tempo di Menuetto Allegro vivace Duration 26 mins
This concert will end at approximately 9pm.
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artistthe profiles About Music
MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937)
Le tombeau de Couperin
ebastian Lang-Lessing is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra since 2004. Awarded the Ferenc Fricsay Prize in Berlin at the age of 24, he subsequently took up a conducting post at the Hamburg State Opera, was appointed resident conductor at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and later Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy. Under his direction, the Opéra de Nancy was elevated to national status becoming the Opéra national de Lorraine. His international career started at the Paris Opera, followed by engagements at Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera and the Opera houses in Oslo and Stockholm. He conducted a highly regarded new production of Wagner’s Rienzi at Deutsche Oper Berlin in January 2010 and a new production of Rosenkavalier at Cape Town Opera during the World Cup. Concert engagements include performances with Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Tokyo Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, major German Radio Orchestras and major Australian orchestras. He inaugurated the TSO’s annual Sydney season and led his orchestra on a tour of Japan. His discography includes music by the French composer Guy Ropartz, and his CDs with the TSO include the recently released complete symphonies of Mendelssohn with DVD, the complete Schumann symphonies, Romantic Overtures, music of Brett Dean, Mozart Arias with Sara Macliver, and works by Saint-Saëns, Franck, Ravel. Forthcoming TSO recordings include Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites, Mozart symphonies, Mendelssohn and Ravel piano concertos with soloist Kirill Gerstein. Sebastian Lang-Lessing has been appointed Music Director of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
sraeli violinist Vadim Gluzman, in technique and sensibility, harkens back to the golden age of violinists of the 19th and 20th centuries, while possessing the passion and energy of the 21st century. Lauded by both critics and audiences as a performer of great depth, virtuosity and technical brilliance, he has appeared throughout the world as a soloist and in a duo setting with his wife, pianist Angela Yoffe. Early in his career he enjoyed the encouragement and support of Isaac Stern and in 1994 he received the prestigious Henryk Szeryng Foundation Career Award. He appears regularly with such major orchestras as the London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic, to name a few. He has collaborated with the world’s most prominent conductors, among them Neeme Järvi, Marek Janowski, Peter Oundjian, Dmitri Kitaenko, Paavo Järvi and Yan Pascal Tortelier. A highly acclaimed recording artist, his recordings are released exclusively on BIS Records. His latest recording features the Korngold and Dvarionas violin concertos with The Hague Residentie Orchestra under conductor Neeme Järvi. He plays the extraordinary 1690 ex-Leopold Auer Stradivari, on extended loan to him through the generosity of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Prélude Forlane Menuet Rigaudon In using the title Le tombeau (literally ‘tomb’ or ‘tombstone’), Maurice Ravel was reviving the 17th-century French literary and musical tradition of the tombeau – poetry or music written to commemorate a mentor or colleague. Louis Couperin and Jean-Henri D’Anglebert both commemorated their teacher Jacques Champion de Chambonnières with tombeaux for the harpsichord, and François Couperin (Le Grand) honoured the tradition with his Apothéoses of Corelli and Lully. Ravel’s tombeau was conceived towards the end of 1914, when the composer wrote to Lucien Garban (of Durand publishers): ‘I’m beginning two series of piano pieces: first, a French suite – no, it’s not what you think – the Marseillaise doesn’t come into it at all, but there’ll be a forlane and a jig; not a tango though…’ The sketches for the ‘French suite’, largely completed, were set aside on the outbreak of World War I, and it was not until 1917 that they emerged as Le tombeau de Couperin, Ravel’s last work for solo piano. Each movement is dedicated to the memory of a friend who died in the war. Ravel prepared for the work by transcribing a forlane from François Couperin’s Concerts royaux. The buoyant rhythms and refrain structure of his own Forlane reveal their origins in the vigorous 16th-century Italian dance as heard through 18th-century French ears. But the melody and acid harmonies are all Ravel’s. Similarly, the flowing Menuet is more like Ravel’s own Menuet
antique than any by Couperin, for all the antique mood established by its modal harmonies and classically balanced phrases. It was the concept of the French Baroque suite – each dance with its specified character and set tempo – rather than its musical style that emerged in Le tombeau. The work’s tribute is not so much ‘to Couperin himself’, said Ravel, ‘as to 18th-century French music in general.’ And the apparent contradiction of a suite of dances dedicated to the memory of fallen comrades is perfectly resolved, although the muted gracefulness of the music suggests serenity, even resignation, rather than melancholy. Shortly after pianist Marguerite Long gave the first performance in 1919, Ravel orchestrated four of the movements: Prélude, Forlane, Menuet and Rigaudon. In his orchestration Ravel makes much of the contrast between woodwinds and strings, often passing the melodies between the two sections, but the winds are given prominence from the very beginning, with a breathless succession of rapidly articulated notes for the oboe. The orchestration takes advantage, too, of the enhanced capabilities of Erard’s doubleaction harp, and the feeling of perpetual motion in the Prélude is brought to a close with ravishing trills swept up in a harp glissando. The trumpet adds brilliance to the exuberant opening of the final movement (a vigorous Provençal Rigaudon), balancing the prominence of woodwind and strings in the preceding movements. Abridged from a note by Yvonne Frindle © 1999 The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra last performed this work in Hobart on 10 April 2002 with conductor Sachio Fujioka.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No 2 in G Minor Op 63 Allegro moderato Andante assai – Allegretto – Andante assai, come prima Allegro, ben marcato Prokofiev left the Soviet Union in 1918 after several visits to Western Europe in the prerevolutionary years. Musicologist Stanley Krebs points out the danger of assuming that Prokofiev’s expatriation was political: ‘All Russian musicians of accomplishment went abroad,’ he notes, and suggests that Prokofiev had probably decided to leave even before the October revolution. Based in Paris, with determined forays into the musical scene of the United States, Prokofiev seems to have hoped to become more of a major figure on the world stage than ultimately proved to be the case. From 1927 he began a series of return visits. By mid-1936, with his only serious Soviet rival, Shostakovich, under a cloud, Prokofiev moved permanently to Moscow. The year before, Prokofiev was approached by a group of admirers of the French violinist Robert Soetans to write a concerto. Prokofiev had had it in mind to write a work for violin, and toyed with the idea of a ‘concert sonata for violin and orchestra’. Gerald Abraham complains that ‘there is no naughtiness, there is no steely glitter and there is almost no virtuosity in the solo part [of the Violin Concerto No 2]’, but it was Prokofiev’s intention to make this concerto ‘altogether different from No 1 in both music and style’. It was composed during an extensive concert tour that Prokofiev and Soetans made. As Prokofiev notes in his autobiography: the principal theme of the first movement was written in Paris, the first theme of the second movement in Voronezh, the
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orchestration I completed in Baku, while the first performance was given in Madrid [with the Madrid Symphony Orchestra under Eugene Arbos], in December 1935. The piece stakes an immediate claim to simple, comprehensive tunefulness. The soloist, alone, establishes the key of G minor unequivocally with a disarmingly simple melody. Some busy passage-work leads to a new lyrical theme in B flat, reminiscent both of La Vie en rose and the Gavotte from Prokofiev’s Classical symphony. Both themes are developed in a varied central section characterised by Prokofiev’s lively rhythmic manipulation and deft touches of orchestration. The movement ends curiously, with rapid virtuosic writing brought to a halt by peremptory plucked chords from the soloist. The pizzicato writing is carried over into the rocking triplet accompaniment of the second movement, which supports a long-breathed, yearning melody for the soloist who travels through a number of musical landscapes. The plucking of strings may suggest the guitars of Spain, where the work was to be premièred; in the final movement the Iberian flavour becomes explicit with the use of castanets. This grotesque waltz reminds us of Prokofiev’s brilliance as a ballet composer, and he draws yet more arresting colours from the solo part, notably in the use of melodies played high on the violin’s lowest string. For all Prokofiev’s nomadism during the work’s composition, and whatever its political subtext, the overwhelming impression is of Russianness in its balance of wild energy, humour and melancholy. Abridged from a note by Gordon Kerry, Symphony Australia © 2001 The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra last performed this work in Hobart and Launceston on 23 and 24 November 2006 with conductor Vladimir Verbitsky and soloist Baiba Skride.
Tzigane, Concert Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra
‘Tzigane means “gypsy” and the music to which Ravel gave this title is “a virtuoso piece in the style of a Hungarian Rhapsody”.’ In 1922 Ravel heard the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi play his Sonata for Violin and Cello at a London soirée. Afterwards she entertained him by playing Hungarian gypsy melodies in a recital that lasted until the early hours of the morning. Two years later he told her about the piece he was writing ‘especially for you… the Tzigane must be a piece of great virtuosity, full of brilliant effects, provided it is possible to perform them, which I’m not always sure of’. When d’Aranyi gave Tzigane its first performance, in London later that year, in the version with piano, Ravel is reported to have told her afterwards that if he’d known she could master the difficulties so well he would have made it even harder! Tzigane means ‘gypsy’ and the music to which Ravel gave this title is ‘a virtuoso piece in the style of a Hungarian Rhapsody’. In Tzigane Ravel set himself the kind of challenge he loved – to make a musical virtue of extreme technical difficulties. He asked his publisher to send him a copy of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano, and his friend Hélène Jourdan-Morhange to bring her copy of Paganini’s Caprices for solo violin. Both these composers represented the ne plus ultra of virtuosity on their instruments, and Ravel outdid them. The technical feats Ravel asks of the violinist in the long opening unaccompanied section (which takes up almost half the piece; a sign perhaps of the haste with which Ravel composed it) include playing in high positions on the G string, octaves, multiple stops, tremolos,
arpeggios and glissandos. Harmonics and lefthand pizzicato are saved for after the entrance of the piano. The piano – or rather the piano-luthéal, as Ravel had intended – became an orchestra in the second version of Tzigane, premiered by d’Aranyi in Paris in 1924 with the Orchestre Colonne. The luthéal was an attachment to the piano, patented in 1919, which enabled it to imitate the plucked and hammered sounds of the harpsichord, guitar, and Hungarian cimbalom. By 1924, however, this anticipation of the prepared piano was already almost obsolete, and in the orchestral version of Tzigane Ravel finds a substitute in the colours of harp, celesta, and the string section playing pizzicato and with harmonics. Probably Ravel, with the luthéal, had been trying to make the accompaniment sound more Hungarian, but his parodistic pastiche of Hungarian gypsy music makes no attempt at the ethnographic authenticity of Bartók (whose work Ravel admired), and probably owes more to the gypsy fiddlers Ravel heard in Paris cafés and cabarets. Tzigane is a series of free variations, as if improvised, but falling broadly into the ‘csárdás’ structure of the Hungarian Rhapsody as brought to the concert hall by Liszt: a slow introduction, lassú, where the minor key seeks a certain pathos, then a sometimes wild fast section, a friss. The modal musical language of both the slow and fast sections is an imitation of the Hungarian gypsy style, but Tzigane is above all a successful experiment in stretching violin virtuosity to its limits. David Garrett ©2004/2006 The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra last performed this work in Hobart on 5 September 1998 with conductor Kynan Johns and soloist Susie Park.
TASMANIAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
ABOUT THE MUSIC
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 8 in F Op 93 Allegro vivace e con brio Allegretto scherzando Tempo di Menuetto Allegro vivace The Symphony No 8 and the Symphony No 7 were first performed in Vienna’s Great Redoutensaal on 27 February 1814. Beethoven composed the Eighth relatively quickly, after finishing the largescale Seventh, and most commentators find the composer in a somewhat relaxed mood in the Eighth. But though the Symphony No 8 is a short work, certainly Beethoven’s most compressed and concentrated symphony, it is nonetheless musically powerful and daring – little, but vast, as Sir George Grove observed. The humorous side of this symphony, almost rough at times, has caused some problems for critics and listeners alike. Part of the trouble is that 19th-century audiences did not know how to react to humour and wit in music (nor, it is to be feared, do their 21st-century successors). Something about the formal concert-going ritual stifles enjoyment and causes embarrassment – you can’t laugh out loud, so the comic or ironic is unexpected, and often unnoticed. But the humorous side of this symphony has been exaggerated by some writers. It is there – especially in the Allegretto scherzando second movement, with its sudden and perfunctory ending, just when the return of the main theme is expected. But a forceful, as opposed to a relaxed and graceful, interpretation of the symphony will bring out Beethoven’s daring power and use of surprise – this is not Beethoven the practical joker but Beethoven the intellectual comedian. Much of the music is immensely powerful – notice how the motive which opens the
first movement is then held back until the development, where it is built up with tremendous tension towards a climax marked triple forte, a very rare dynamic marking in Beethoven, so that the beginning of the recapitulation is the climax of the whole movement. The second movement’s subject exists also in the form of a canon supposedly extemporised at a supper in 1812. The effect of this movement, whose mechanical character has affinities with Haydn’s Clock symphony, is of gaiety and gracefulness, a conversation with some brusque good-humoured interruptions, and an abrupt ending to Beethoven’s shortest symphony movement. The Minuet provides a clear contrast – Beethoven had just given us a scherzo in place of a slow movement, so next he writes a movement as broad and flowing as can be, with a theme he seems to have hit on almost at once, rather than by his usual laborious process of sketches and revisions. The beauty of the subject is shown in a new light when it is played on the bassoon. The Trio’s subject is given out by the horns, accompanied by a solo from the cello section, which complements its broad richness with busy arpeggios.
Violin Jun Yi Ma Concertmaster Elinor Levy Associate Concertmaster Lucy Carrig Jones Principal Second Daniel Kossov Principal First Rohana Brown Miranda Carson Yue-Hong Cha Cherelle Gadge Elizabeth Gormley Michael Johnston Christine Lawson Susanna Lazaroff Alison Lazaroff-Somssich Christopher Nicholas George Vi Viola Janet Rutherford* Rodney McDonald William Newbery Anna Roach Luke Spicer Cello Sue-Ellen Paulsen* Ivan James Martin Penicka Brett Rutherford
It has often been remarked that the real centre of gravity in the Symphony No 8 is the Finale, to which the other movements lead. Sir Donald Tovey described the movement as ‘one of Beethoven’s most gigantic creations’, in conception if not in length, full of unexpected tonalities and dynamics, and bursting with vitality.
Double Bass Stuart Thomson* Michael Fortescue Emma Sullivan
Abridged from a note by David Garrett © 2002
Oboe David Nuttall* Dinah Woods Cor Anglais
The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra last performed this work in Hobart on 21 April 2007 with conductor Matthew Coorey.
Flute Douglas Mackie* Lloyd Hudson Piccolo
Clarinet Duncan Abercromby* Chris Waller Bass Clarinet
Chief Conductor & Artistic Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing
Bassoon Lisa Storchheim* John Panckridge Contrabassoon
Managing Director Nicholas Heyward
Horn Wendy Page* Heath Parkinson* Roger Jackson Greg Stephens Trumpet Yoram Levy* Justin Lingard Timpani Matthew Goddard* Percussion Gary Wain* Harp Lucy Reeves# Celeste Stephanie Abercromby# *principal player # guest principal Jun Yi Ma plays a violin attributed to Guarneri on loan from Nathan Waks.
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CHAIR SPONSORS Chair Sponsors provide valuable financial assistance to the TSO through an annual donation of $5,000 or more. Their donation, which is nominally placed beside an orchestra chair of their choosing, supports the entire orchestra. All donations to the TSO are fully tax deductible. Chief Conductor GHD Concertmaster Mike and Carole Ralston Associate Concertmaster R H O’Connor Principal Second Violin Joanna de Burgh Principal Viola John and Jo Strutt Principal Cello Richard and Gill Ireland Principal Double Bass Patricia Leary Principal Oboe Melanie Godfrey-Smith Principal Bassoon Julia Farrell Rank and File Bassoon Alan and Hilary Wallace Principal Horn Mr Kenneth von Bibra AM and Mrs Berta von Bibra OAM Principal Trumpet Joy Selby Smith Principal Timpani John and Marilyn Canterford Principal Harp Dr and Mrs Michael Treplin Piano Mrs Neale Edwards
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