MCO’s Jovian Worlds can be heard in Melbourne on Thursday 28 February and Sunday 3 March at Melbourne Recital Centre.
MCO: Mozart’s Jupiter is his final complete symphony. What do we know about its creation?
Emma: Like so much of his output, Mozart composed his final three symphonies with astonishing speed, completing the set in the summer of 1788. It was a very difficult time for the composer. Although he had enjoyed great success earlier in his career, he was now struggling financially and was also grieving the loss of his daughter Theresia, his third child to die in infancy. Many scholars suggest that Mozart was composing his final symphonies to be performed at a concert series but it is unknown if that ever eventuated or, in fact, if he even lived to see all three works performed. Symphony 41 is Mozart’s longest and last symphony and its grand scale and majestic tone earned it the nickname, “Jupiter”. By the beginning of the nineteenth century it was widely recognised as one of the greatest works of its genre.
MCO: There are a number of famous Mozart symphonies, but the Jupiter often gets singled out as “the finest” or “the greatest”. What is it about this symphony that makes it so great?
Emma: All of Mozart’s symphonies are masterpieces in their own right but there certainly is something very special about his final three – and Jupiter, in particular. One reason for this is the sheer scale of the symphony – it is significantly longer than his previous works. The way Mozart crafted and developed the themes in each movement, combined with the open quality of the C Major tonality, makes the work incredibly powerful and uplifting. In this symphony, Mozart once again conjures the world of opera – the music is full of emotion and character, at times wildly dramatic and then suddenly light-hearted and elegant. The final movement of the Jupiter Symphony is particularly notable. Mozart has written a fugue where the instruments of the orchestra play the same declamatory theme but enter at different times. These overlapping lines create energy and excitement for the listener. With this writing, Mozart gives a nod back to the complexity and grandeur of the Baroque era whilst always retaining the elegance of Classical style.
MCO: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is well known as an Everest for the violin soloist, but what is this music like to play from an orchestral point of view?
Emma: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is a complete joy to play – it is a work that, for me, never loses its charm. Whether intended for the stage or not, all of Tchaikovsky’s works evoke the world of ballet and, from the first few notes of the violin solo, it is easy to imagine an elegant choreography. I think one of the reasons Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto is so loved is because he does not simply relegate the orchestra to an accompanying role. He creates a lot of interplay between the orchestra and the soloist and also includes some fantastic orchestral tutti moments, where the whole ensemble has the opportunity to shine. My previous experiences of performing this work have always been with larger symphony orchestras so I am very excited to play it in a more intimate setting. I think it will offer us the opportunity to hear the concerto in a completely new way and will allow us a lot of flexibility in the way we support our brilliant soloist, Andrew Haveron.