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MET#2 2022 – Musical Landscapes

Beethoven, Westlake, Brahms

Conductor – Sarah-Grace Williams

Soloist – Giuseppe Zangari (Guitar)

Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre

Our Program For Tonight:

Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827)

Egmont Overture Op. 84

The early 19th century found Vienna in turmoil. Napoleon invaded in 1809 and until October the Viennese suffered from censorship of the press, literature and the theatre. Following the departure of the French, 1810 sparked a renewal of Viennese enthusiasm for theatre, and the director of the Hoftheater, Josef Härtel, arranged for the revived performances of works by two of Germany’s great literary figures, Goethe and Schiller. Härtel selected two plays whose subject matter appropriately dealt with the oppression of populations by a foreign tyrant, and of the freedom the people won for themselves.

Goethe’s play Egmont was chosen, and Beethoven was commissioned to compose incidental music for the play. The play is based on an incident in 1597, with the invasion of the Netherlands by the Spanish. The leader of the local resistance, Count Egmont, is captured and condemned to death, and whilst imprisoned, Egmont dreams of his late wife. She comes to him in the guise of the goddess of freedom, and prophesises that his execution will provide the catalyst for the successful revolution.

© Andrew Doyle 2022

Westlake, Nigel (1958 – )Antarctica Suite

I. Last Place on Earth

II. Wooden Ships

III. Penguin Ballet

IV. Ice Core/Finale

In 1991 I was invited by filmmaker John Weiley to compose the score for his film, Antarctica. Filmed in Imax, it was shot over a three-year period, and involved 20,000 kilometres of travel around the polar ice cap by helicopter, truck, boat and dog sled. It is a film about the spirit of enquiry, about looking beyond the known – past the edge of everything. My brief was to compose music that captured the awe-inspiring grandeur, beauty, desolation & harshness of the images. I started by sketching some ideas for solo guitar and orchestra. John Williams was in Sydney at the time, and I took him to the cutting room to view the rushes. He was immediately taken with the picture, and we both agreed it would make a marvellous vehicle for solo guitar. Unfortunately, last-minute changes to the film meant that I had to abandon the idea of a guitar-based score, and was unable to pursue the collaboration with John, although the fragments of guitar music still remaining in the score were performed by Timothy Kain on the films’ soundtrack.

When the ABC invited me to write a guitar concerto for John Williams and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra a year or so after completing the film, I seized the opportunity to explore some of my original ideas for the film in the form of a suite for guitar and orchestra. The suite also incorporates ideas developed during the initial writing process but not included in the film. It is in four movements, the last comprising two sections joined by a short cadenza. In The Last Place on Earth, the music begins at an aerial shot of the ice cap, taken at midnight. Due to the midnight sun, it is in full daylight. The first explorers came in Wooden Ships. In the Penguin Ballet, Emperor penguins are seen as never before by human eyes in a kind of ballet underneath the ice cap. They leave the water at fantastic speeds through a hole in the ice to avoid being eaten by leopard seals. The drilling of an Ice Core by Antarctic scientists reveals recent changes in the earths’ atmosphere. The hole in the ozone layer was first discovered here. The Antarctic treaty was signed just as the film was being completed, providing an optimistic note on which to finish – as reflected in the Finale.

© Nigel Westlake

Brahms, Johannes (1833-1897)Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

I. Allegro non troppo
II. Adagio non troppo
III. Allegretto grazioso (quasi andantino)
IV. Allegro con spirito

A picturesque Austrian retreat in the village of Pörtschach, was the inspiration that Brahms needed to compose his second symphony. He visited the lakeside resort in the summer of 1877, and during that time he composed not only the symphony, but a dark, brooding motet with the translated title, ‘Why is the light given to the wretched?’ Brahms felt similarly about his second symphony, and he wrote to his publisher on 22 November 1877 that the symphony ‘is so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score must come out in mourning.’

Often compared to Beethoven’s sixth, ‘Pastoral’ symphony, Brahms’ second symphony also has an idyllic, pastoral feeling. Unlike Beethoven however, the sunlight is often obscured by dark clouds and a sense of foreboding. The first movement opens with three ominous notes in the low strings, which form the foundations of the first movement. The genius of Brahms somehow manages to provide us with melodies that develop to new melodies, while still maintaining the underlying thematic gesture with which he opened the symphony.

The second movement continues the trend of beginning with low strings, however this time we are presented with one of Brahms’ most lyrical, beautiful themes played by the ‘celli. The contrast between light and dark also pervades this movement by using a movement between major and minor tonalities. In the third movement we experience the rare, jovial side of Brahms, and the light-hearted feeling of this movement provides welcome relief from the opening movements.

Brahms’ full symphonic palette is on show in the finale, and was an instant hit with audiences, requiring an encore at its premiere performance in late 1877. Sotto voce strings begin the movement, before the character completely changes, with a triumphant declaration from the full orchestra. The development section sees a return to Brahms’ melancholy nature, however the triumphant brass overpower the sadness and everyone is left exhausted and exhilarated all at once.

© Andrew Doyle 2022

Our Artists For This Evening

The Metropolitan Orchestra – Click Here To Read TMO’s Biography.

Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sarah-Grace Williams. Click Here To Read Sarah-Grace’s Bio.

Guitar Soloist – Giuseppe Zangari. Click Here To Read Giuseppe’s Bio.

The Musicians Performing Tonight :

Concertmaster ^Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich

Violin Dominique Guerbois, Kathryn Crossing, Elena Tabolkina, Ela Stopa-Zbikowska, Amanda Scott, Denisa Smeu-Kirileanu, Gulia Bayjanova, Jonathan Karanikas, Paul Pokorny, Justin Li

Second Violin *Dominic Meagher, Caroline Kelly, Sarah Anthony, Katherine Finch, Elisabetta Sonego, Katrina Papallo, Tori Spooner, Jennifer Mee. Claudia Seibold. Victoria Giles

Viola *Robyn Botha, Seola Lee, Monique Turner, Niamh Armstrong, Liz D’Olier, Tim Dickinson, Nicola Elsworth, Dana Kern

Cello *Ezmi Pepper, Steve Meyer, Sally Schinckel-Brown, Caroline Otto, Julienne Guerbois, Lily Innis

Bass *Jeremy Fox, *Mark Szeto, Jessica Holmes

Flute *Emilia Antcliff, Jacinta Mikus

Oboe *Alex Fontaine, Ovania McClelland

Clarinet *Andrew Doyle, Alisha Coward

Bassoon *Anthony Grimm, Sarajane Kirkaldy-Hansen

French Horn *Adrian Hallam, Gemma Lawton, Neil O’Donnell, Tina Brain

Trumpet *David Johnson, Adam Davis

Trombone #Oscar Lewis, Mark Brown, #Molly James

Tuba #Michael Welch

Timpani #Helen Parker

Percussion #Kaylie Dunstan

Harp *Kate Moloney

^ Concert Master

* Principal

# Acting Principal