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Concert Club

8th April, 2020
Get the best of online music with programme notes from Andrew Smith

Concert Club

8th April, 2020

Go to YouTube and type in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Look for the following concert then sit back and enjoy.

HMS Programme notes [1] This is a programme of music that will whisk you away to different places, just right for when you are stuck indoors...

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 

Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis

Richard Tognetti, violin

Benjamin Britten [1913-76]  Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes c.16' Britten lived in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, and listening to these extraordinarily atmospheric and vivid orchestral pieces you can easily imagine the scenes as he looked across the pebbled beach and out to sea. The four orchestral interludes represent, in turn, Dawn – you can hear the lapping waves and feel the chill, then Sunday Morning, Moonlight, and Storm. Britten was one of our greatest British composers, and Peter Grimes (1945) his most famous opera. If you enjoy this, try his Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra [c.17']. Not just because it provides a brilliant lesson about what an orchestra is, but because it is exciting and colourful music, miraculously transformed from an original piece by 17th century composer Henry Purcell. Witold Lutoslawski [1913–1994] Partita for violin and orchestra c.16' As a young composer, Lutoslawski's style of writing owed much to old folk music from his native Poland, but by the time he came to write the Partita for Violin he was creating new sounds that were more original and daring. Initially written in 1984 for violin and piano, he made this orchestral version in 1988 for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter – but still with a prominent part for the piano. There are five movements, but the second and fourth are just short interludes, mainly for the solo violin with piano and involving some improvisation. The first movement is angry sounding, with exciting use of percussion, the third is slow and solemn, the last is urgent and dark, but with a slow and quiet middle section. A popular work of his is Variations on a Theme of Paganini, for two pianos.[c.6 '] You may well recognize the theme.    Ralph Vaughan Williams [1872-1958] The Lark Ascending c.15' Some say that they find “classical” music relaxing. Mostly it is much more than that – think exciting, passionate, extraordinary....... But if you are in the mood for relaxing, The Lark Ascending is the perfect accompaniment for it. Close your eyes and imagine an unspoilt English countryside landscape where all is calm. The Lark is represented by the violin, soaring freely in the breeze. Vaughan Williams' music is infused with the sound of old folk songs, the melodies of which are invariably based on melancholy-sounding modes, rather than the major/minor scales that evolved later.  For further listening try his Fantasia on Greensleeves [c.4'] and English Folk Song Suite for Wind Band [c.10] Sergei Rachmaninov [1873-1943]  Symphonic Dances op.45 c.34' Rachmaninov had an uncanny ability to unlock our deepest emotions with his music. Pieces such as the 2nd Piano Concerto and the Prelude in C# minor are eternal favourites because of this, but in this late work (1940) he is more progressive and abstract. The first movement opens with a rather grotesque march, which later gives way to a soulful solo for an instrument that is rarely heard in a symphony orchestra – the saxophone. The second is like a waltz in a haunted ballroom, rather sinister. The third is based on two Russian religious chants. It builds to a thrilling finish, capping a great orchestral showpiece that will excite your imagination. If you like this, try the C# minor Piano Prelude op.3 no.2 [c.4'] and Piano Concerto no, 2 [c.33] and prepare to feel very moved. Andrew Smith