MCO’s Re: Classical can be heard on Thursday 17 June 7:30pm & Sunday 20 June2:30pm at Melbourne Recital Centre; and 17 June 7:30pm streamed live on Melbourne Digital Concert Hall.
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
Menuet sur le nom Haydn (arr string orchestra Nicholas Buc)
The French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) composed Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn in 1909 and it was first performed in Salle Pleyel in Paris in March 1911. The work came about from a commission by the Revue musicale mensuelle de la Société Internationale de Musique to mark the centenary of the death of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Six composers were commissioned to write a work based on the musical equivalent of Haydn’s name. In addition to Ravel, these were Claude Debussy, Vincent d’Indy, Paul Dukas, Reynaldo Hahn and Charles-Marie Widor.
The original piano miniature spans 54 bars of music and the theme is based on Haydn’s name as a five-note motif and has the tempo marking Mouvement de menuet. The theme is based on Haydn’s name converted to the theme B-A-D-D-G. The motif appears in several forms including inverted and retrograde versions.
Melbourne Chamber Orchestra commissioned this arrangement from the Australian composer and conductor Nicholas Buc. It was first performed in 2015 as part of the program “The Virtuoso Recorder.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1765–1791)
Violin Concerto No 4 in D major K 218
II. Andante Cantabile
III. Rondeu: Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo
Most of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756–1791) works for violin and orchestra were composed in Salzburg in the 1770s: the first in 1773, and the four subsequent concertos between June and December 1775. The D major concerto K 218 dates from October 1775.
The concertos were performed often by Mozart and Antonio Brunetti, an accomplished violinist in the Salzburg court orchestra. Although not published until after Mozart’s death, they have remained in the repertoire ever since. The works display a delightful balance between brilliance and expressive lyricism.
As with the other violin concertos, this work is scored for solo violin, two oboes, two horns, and strings. The opening Allegro exudes a great sense of confidence and displays both elegance and grace; the melodies played by the soloist interplay intricately with the orchestra. In the Andante cantabile the soloist is charged with the beautiful uninterrupted melody that dominates this movement with a sense of serenity. The Rondeau: Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo provides ongoing contrast between the main themes with their differing tempos. A dance-like quality imbues this charming movement that gracefully concludes without fanfare.
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
Symphony No 52 in C minor The Grandfather
I. Allegro assai
III. Minuet – Trio
IV. Finale. Presto
Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) is often considered the “father of the symphony”. His 104 symphonies spanning his compositional output provide immense insight into the development of the form that was taken up by Mozart and Beethoven and their successors.
Symphony No 52 in C minor was completed around 1772 and published in 1774. It is among a group of symphonies where Haydn was trialling different musical ideas, particularly around rhythmic and harmonic complexity, dynamic contrast and an increased use of counterpoint. This symphony is often referred to as a precursor of many later works in the same key by Mozart and Beethoven.
The four movements of this work are scored for two oboes, bassoon, two horns and strings. The opening theme of the Allegro assai is dramatic and breath-taking and is contrasted to the second more graceful theme. The ideas are thrown about with abandon. The Andante in C major provides some reprise from the turmoil of the opening movement but there remains a sense of uneasiness throughout. The third movement contrasts beautifully the articulated minuet and the courtly trio. The work concludes with the Finale Presto which is spectacularly unrelenting in its drive and flurry.