MORNING SYMPHONY SERIES
Thursday 29 June 2023, 11.00am
Perth Concert Hall
West Australian Symphony Orchestra respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and Elders of Country throughout Western Australia, and the Whadjuk Noongar people on whose lands we work and share music.
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MORNING SYMPHONY SERIES
Igor STRAVINSKY Pulcinella - Suite (20 mins)
Scherzino – Allegro – Andantino
Gavotta con due variazioni
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9 (27 mins)
Elena Schwarz conductor
Wesfarmers Arts Pre-concert Talk
Find out more about the music in the concert with this week’s speaker, Ashley Smith. The Pre-concert Talk will take place at 9.40am in the Main Auditorium.
Listen to WASO
This performance is recorded for broadcast on ABC Classic. For further details visit abc.net.au/classic
WASO On Stage
Acting Principal 1st Violin
• Rosalind & Lyndsay Potts
Principal 2nd Violin
Assoc Principal 2nd Violin
Assistant Principal 2nd Violin
• Philip & Frances Chadwick and Jim & Freda Irenic
• Unnamed (2)
• The Gregg family
• Janet Holmes à Court AC & Gilbert George
• Pamela & Josh Pitt
• Ruth E. Thorn and Michael & Helen Tuite
• Leanne & Sam Walsh AO
• Meg O’Neill, Chase Hayes & Vicky Hayes
• Stelios Jewellers
★ Rod & Margaret Marston
Principal 3rd Horn
Francesco Lo Surdo
• John & Nita Walshe
• Dr Glenda Campbell-Evans & Dr Ken Evans AM
• Dale & Greg Higham
Assoc Principal Percussion & Timpani
★ Section supported through the Duet program by
• Chair supported through the Duet program by
* Instruments used by these musicians are on loan from Janet Holmes à Court AC.
About the Artist
Elena Schwarz is forging a reputation for her insightful interpretations and musical vision and is in demand in Europe, the USA and Australasia. Guest conducting engagements include orchestras such as the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Helsinki Philharmonic, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra whilst forthcoming highlights bring her to the Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, Bremen Philharmoniker and the Duisburger Philharmoniker at the Ruhr Triennale.
Widely admired for her advocacy of new music, Elena Schwarz works regularly with specialist contemporary ensembles such as Ensemble Modern, Ensemble InterContemporain, MusikFabrik and Klangforum Wien.
She was awarded 1st Prize at the Princess Astrid Competition (2014), 2nd Prize at the Jorma Panula Competition (2015) and a Dudamel Fellowship (2018-19).
About the Music
Pulcinella – Suite
Scherzino – Allegro – Andantino Tarantella
Gavotta con due variazioni
Stravinsky created this suite out of the music he wrote for the ballet Pulcinella, commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets russes. The ballet was premiered in 1920, with designs by Picasso and choreography by Leonid Massine.
There was a vogue at the time for ballets based on the music of Italian masters: Domenico Scarlatti’s music adapted by Tommasini for the Good-Humoured Ladies, Rossini’s music arranged by Respighi for La Boutique fantasque. Diaghilev however wanted Stravinsky to adapt the music of Pergolesi. At first Stravinsky was lukewarm. He barely knew Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and opera La serva padrona, but he was entranced once he examined the scores Diaghilev had found in Italian conservatories and the British Museum (most not by Pergolesi, however, but by contemporaries).
He justified his absorption as the sort of love which urges us to possess a woman, but his orchestration of Pergolesi’s music amounts to a complete re-composition. Stravinsky’s 18th century model is obvious, but so too are his own fingerprints: more pronounced rhythms; quirkier orchestration; melodies chopped into asymmetrical phrases. ‘I could not produce a “forgery” of Pergolesi,’ he said, ‘because my motor habits are so different.’
Stravinsky created his ballet out of music by Pergolesi, Gallo and Monza. From the ballet’s 19 numbers he selected 11 for the suite and turned them into eight movements. There were voices in the original, but their parts were redistributed among the instruments. The scoring was deliberately that of an 18th century concerto grosso, complete with ripieno, or solo group (a string quintet), and concertino of 30 instruments. However the duet for double bass and trombone towards the end gives the distance from the 18th century.
© Symphony Australia, 2001
Pulcinella opened Paris Opera on 15 May, 1920. The Suite was first performed in December 1922 in Boston. Stravinsky revised the score in 1947.
First WASO performance:
May 1974. David Measham, conductor.
Most recent WASO performance:
17-18 October 2003. Federico Cortese, conductor.
two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, trumpet, trombone, strings.
Concerto grosso – a kind of 17th- and 18th-century concerto where instead of having one solo instrument, there is a group of solo instruments contrasting with the full orchestra.
About the Music
Symphony No.9 in E flat major, Op.70
What was Shostakovich thinking? He of all people knew that discretion can be the better part of valour. Despite its popular success, his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk had been savaged – possibly by Stalin himself – in the pages of the Party newspaper, Pravda, and the composer knew that denunciation often preceded ‘disappearance’. At the height of the Great Terror of the late 1930s, therefore, Shostakovich prudently held back his inevitably controversial Fourth Symphony and produced the Fifth which, with its ostensibly positive outlook, returned him to precarious favour for the time being.
Shostakovich might have been daunted by the prospect of writing a Ninth Symphony. Not only was there the precedent of Beethoven’s hybrid masterpiece, but Bruckner, for instance, had gone to his eternal reward before completing his Ninth, and this in turn had led Mahler – according to his
wife, anyway – to such an excess of superstition that he refused to give Das Lied von der Erde a number in his symphonic sequence. A Ninth is an enormous challenge; for Shostakovich this was compounded by other circumstances. Two years earlier his Eighth Symphony had been criticised publicly by Prokofiev at an assembly of the Composers’ Union. More importantly, the Ninth Symphony dates from 1945 and was expected to celebrate the Red Army’s victory over Fascism – indeed, Stalin is said to have ‘suggested’ that Shostakovich use Beethoven’s Ninth as the model for a massive, optimistic choral symphony.
Shostakovich started work on such a piece in 1944, by which time the Soviet armies had begun to force the German retreat. His efforts proved fruitless, however, and he set it aside until August 1945, finishing the piece in a few short weeks. It was, however, as unlike Beethoven’s Ninth as it was possible for Shostakovich to write. Lasting little over half an hour, and without a chorister in sight, it is almost defiantly simple in its design. The first movement begins with the kind of Rossinian melody in which Shostakovich specialised, its seemingly cheerful diatonic character tweaked every so often by an unexpected change of key, or a barely perceptible change of metre. We hear both of these devices in the first few seconds of the piece: in the violins’ first theme, and after the short answer from the solo flute. The movement as a whole is characterised by this apparent levity, which is enhanced by elements like the cartoonish piccolo solo, the fondness for circus-like music, the self-parody of the movement’s final bars and comically abrupt ending.
The second movement is curiously understated, its waltz tempo thrown slightly out of registration by seemingly random 4/4 bars, its texture often ‘hollow’ with a solo line (again, frequently given out by a wind instrument) some octaves above the bass. Even moments of
fuller scoring are somehow unfulfilling, often trailing off suddenly, as does the movement itself with a deflating sequence in the winds, and a desiccated texture barely able to support the solo piccolo.
The final three movements are played without a break, beginning with a deftly energetic scherzo introduced, characteristically, by a solo wind – the clarinet. The fourth movement essentially is a strange little recitative for solo bassoon, introduced by self-consciously ceremonial trombones and punctuated by listless chords colored by the cold sound of a cymbal hit with a timpani stick. The solo bassoon’s recitative becomes by degrees the theme of the final movement, which has all the energy that the preceding section lacked. Once again the manner of the movement is apparently light-hearted, even glib, with strong resonances of comic opera in its seemingly simple melodies and shamelessly gauche scoring. Once again though, and as if it were in the middle of a rally between strings and winds, a simple V-I cadence summarily brings the game to an end.
This was not the piece that Stalin, nor anyone else, was expecting – but it is a measure of Shostakovich’s ambiguity that its tone can be interpreted as the ‘sheer joy of making self-sufficient music’ or as a bitterly ironic response to the world left behind by the second world war. Theodor Adorno believed that poetry was no longer possible after Auschwitz; Shostakovich, writing in the aftermath of the horrors in Eastern Europe and as the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, clearly felt that there was little to glorify.
Symphony Australia © 2001
3 November 1945, Leningrad. Yevgeny Mravinsky, conductor.
Most recent WASO performance:
14 September 1974.
Carlo Bagnoli, conductor.
piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, three percussion and strings.
Diatonic – music which conforms to a key, without discordant notes.
Scherzo – literally, a joke; the term generally refers to a movement in a fast, light triple time which may involve whimsical, startling or playful elements.
Recitative – music in which the singer follows speech-like rhythms rather than having a sense of a regular metre.
V-I cadence – the perfect cadence (also known as the authentic cadence) moves from chord V to chord I (this is written V-I). It is the cadence that sounds the “most finished”.
Engage | Excite | Experience | Educate
From the centre of Perth to the furthest corners of the state, we have provided the soundtrack to life in WA since 1928.
As the State Orchestra, Perth’s first and finest, WASO is the largest employer of performing artists in Western Australia and reaches two million people with musical experiences each year on stage, in our community, and online.
From concert halls to classrooms, hospitals to aged care, we bring joy, inspire learning, and nurture participation in our community, because everybody deserves the opportunity to experience live music. Every year, through community and leading industry partnerships, we engage a new generation of young and emerging artists to help secure a bright future for music in Australia.
We celebrate our rich classical music heritage with great artists from all over the world and commission and perform new repertoire to renew and expand it.
The Orchestra collaborates widely with major arts companies and independent artists, performing opera to ballet, movies to musicals, jazz to rock. We champion the diversity of music in all its forms, with a team of talented and passionate people who create unforgettable experiences for all West Australians to enjoy.
Asher Fisch is Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of our Orchestra and we are proud to call Perth Concert Hall home.
Your Concert Experience
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Ensure your mobile phone is on silent and does not disrupt the experience of those around you. If you need to cough or sneeze, please do this into your elbow. Cough lozenges are available from the Information
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The Wardle Kitchen is open for casual dining, serving delicious hot meals before each performance, while our Grab and Go stations offer quick bites such as sushi and sandwiches. Bars are available on the first two levels, and you are welcome to bring your cold drink into the auditorium.
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St John First Aid officers are present at every WASO concert. Please notify a Perth Concert Hall team member if you require any first aid assistance.
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Get tickets to your next WASO experience at the Box Office located on the ground floor (Level 1). Our Box Office is open one hour prior to each performance, and during interval, or you can email us anytime at email@example.com. You can also visit us Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.
Meet the Musician
How long have you been playing the clarinet?
I started playing the clarinet in high school when I won a placement in what was to become the GATE music program at Churchlands Senior High School. From now it’s been 51 years!
What’s your personal highlight from this concert, Haydn’s Cello Concerto?
Well, I actually really like the concert’s namesake! However the Shostakovich Symphony comes in at a close second place. I first played this at an AYO National Music Camp – it has some challenging clarinet solos of which the one in the second movement is particularly beautiful.
What’s the most challenging piece of music you’ve ever had to play? Why?
I will always remember the Ligeti Chamber Concerto. WASO used to have a 20th Century New Music Ensemble (last century!) in which we performed some very challenging works. I practised the Ligeti until I got all the notes right at the written tempo marking and in the performance the conductor went just a bit too fast. All my hard work went out the window!
You’ve performed as soloist with WASO numerous times, can you describe the experience of performing as a soloist with the orchestra?
You are definitely out of your comfort zone and there is an incredible amount of energy and concentration needed. However, when all the stars align for you it is a fantastic experience and you can find yourself immersed in a performance ‘zone’ that is unlike any other performance experience.
Can you tell us some highlights of your career to date?
This is a good segue from the last question! Performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto at least 12 times has been a real highlight and a privilege. However, there are many more - the Beethoven & Brahms cycles and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with Asher Fisch, Shostakovich’s Tenth and Eleventh Symphonies with Alexander Lazarev, everything Tchaikovsky with Vladimir Verbitsky, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with violinist Frank Peter Zimmerman & conductor David Zinman, recording Wagner & Strauss with soprano Lisa Gasteen and conductor Simone Young. Just to name a few!
If you could choose any favourite holiday destination where would it be?
I have at least two - skiing in France at Val Thorens and escaping the Perth winter to Broome.