Virtual Concert: Dreams

Friday 5.3.2021 19.00 Spring Series 1 & 3
YouTube
Spring Series 1 Spring Series 3
Friday 5.3.2021 19.00 YouTube
Spring Series 1 Spring Series 3

Janne Nisonen, Leader of the Tapiola Sinfonietta, takes to the podium to conduct the orchestra with flautist Emily Beynon as soloist.  In the Flute Concerto of Carl Vine, the virtuoso solo part seems to try out all the things the instrument can do – perhaps even realising its dream? The concert also explores the world of fairy tales.
On intermission Kimmo Korhonen interviews Emily Beynon, Janne Nisonen and Jussi Tuhkanen.

The concert will be streamed online on Tapiola Sinfonietta´s YouTube channel on Friday 5.3.2021 at 7 pm.
Live concert is cancelled due to Covid-19.

PROGRAM:

Hans Abrahamsen: Märchenbilder
Carl Vine: ‘Pipe Dreams’ Concerto for flute and string orchestra, Finnish premiere
* Intermission 7 minutes. Interview
Robert Schumann: Märchenbilder Op. 113
Erich Korngold: Märchenbilder Op. 3
* Intermission 7 minutes: Interview
Claude Debussy: Afternoon of a Faun for flute and piano
Janne Nisonen: jannenisonen.com
Emily Beynon: emilybeynon.com
YouTube: EmilyBeynonflute

Artists

Program

Hans Abrahamsen

Märchenbilder

“To compose is to go in and find something in the music that I did not know was there to begin with. To investigate the music and find new things in the tonal material that surprises me and captivate me.”
These words by Hans Abrahamsen paint a picture of a composer with a firm link to tradition who is well aware of the musical environment around him. Although he has a dash of ‘music about music’ in his makeup, he is above all a profoundly independent creator who makes music exactly as he sees fit. In his early work, Abrahamsen aligned with the influential ‘New Simplicity’ movement, which aimed to establish an opposing force to complex central European modernism, particularly the ‘Darmstadt School’. From the late 1970s onwards, Abrahamsen began to employ an approach that was more subjective, described as “poetic” or “romantic”, and he adhered to this even after returning to composition after a hiatus that lasted for nearly all of the 1990s.
The chamber orchestra work Märchenbilder [Fairy-tale images] (1984) borrows its title from a late work by Schumann for piano and viola (1851), and in a sense Abrahamsen is here engaging in dialogue with Schumann by submitting his idiom to the same premise. The music brings together minimalist repetition, glittering richness and layered textures.
The work is in three movements, the last two being played without a break. Abrahamsen describes the work as dividing into six fairy-tale images, the first three being contained in the opening movement; in progressive expansion, the second movement features two and the last movement only one. The opening movement is fast and vivacious, with contrasting passages. The second begins with a slow, heavy tread (Andante alla marcia) that progresses into a brighter section characterised by repeated notes on brass and strings. The concluding movement is the most clearly minimalist of the three, with rapid movement and plenty of repetition, providing a lucid, liberating and fantasy-tinted conclusion to the work.

Carl Vine

Pipe Dreams, Concerto for Flute and Strings, Finnish premiere

Carl Vine is one of Australia’s most performed and most appreciated composers active today. He became known for his music for dance works in the 1970s (he has written 25 dance scores in all), but his output has since diversified to include eight symphonies (1986–2018), 13 concertos for various instruments (1987–2018) and a sizable body of chamber music and piano works. The piano is his own instrument, and he has also appeared as a pianist.
Vine was initially interested in the avant-garde, drawing influences from composers such as Stockhausen and Elliott Carter. In the mid-1980s, he began to revise his idiom towards a more traditional approach that nevertheless features complex rhythms and high energy on the one hand and solemn contemplation and lyrical moods on the other. Underlying all this we may sense an overarching trend rooted in Neo-Classicism.
Vine completed his Pipe Dreams, Concerto for Flute and Strings, in 2003 to a commission from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, with which he has collaborated closely. The soloist at the premiere was the Franco-Swiss star flautist Emmanuel Pahud. The title of the work alludes to impossible aspirations, which is what formed the basis for Vine’s conception of the work. As he explains:
“There is something innately human about cherishing one's deepest desires while knowing that they are impossible. Part of the model in this work is also the folly that a flute – the instrument itself – might harbour its own secret wishes. In a universe where all is possible, what might a flute dream?
“The work uses one of my preferred architectures: a single movement with three sections in the classic form moderate-slow-fast. Although the solo line is unashamedly virtuosic, the intention is not to dazzle but to explore as much dreaminess as possible, filtered through the wilfulness of a metal pipe which believes it has no limits. There is no specific consideration in this music of the opium pipe, from which the term pipe dream originates.”

Robert Schumann

Märchenbilder op. 113

The mid-19th century was the heyday of the German brand of fairy-tale, known as Märchen. Robert Schumann was a great fan of these tales and often read them for his own enjoyment and to his children. They also inspired his creativity, as he often drew on literary inspiration for his music, even though he never wrote anything that could be defined as actual programme music. Conversely, German authors often saw a connection between fairy tales and music. Ludwig Tieck, for instance, declared that a Märchen must have a “subtly progressive tone, a certain innocence of expression that hypnotises the soul like a quiet musical improvisation, without noise or fuss”.
In his late period, Schumann wrote two works with the word Märchen in the title: Märchenbilder [Fairy-tale Images] for viola and piano (1851) and Märchenerzählungen [Storytelling] for clarinet, viola and piano (1853). Both have four movements, but they do not have descriptive titles, only tempo markings. The pieces are thus not associated with any specific fairy tales, and indeed Schumann’s idea was to create musical tales that operate more on the level of emotional states familiar from fairy-tales rather than as actual narratives. In their conception, these works are akin to the many other small-scale instrumental works of Schumann’s late period.
In Märchenbilder, Schumann makes effective use of the deeper, darker and warmer sound of the viola compared to the violin. The movements of the work may be seen to reflect the two self-declared aspects of Schumann’s artistic personality: the dreaming Eusebius is present in the melodic flanking movements, while the dynamic Florestan makes an appearance in the two faster and more rhythmic middle movements. The melodies here remind us that Schumann was also one of the great masters of German Lieder. The melodic vein is particularly strongly present in the final movement (‘Langsam, mit melancholischen Ausdruck’), lending a warm, comforting and balanced tone to the melancholic expression desired by the composer.

Erich Korngold

Märchenbilder op. 3

Austrian-born composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold was one of the most dazzling child prodigies in the history of music. He began to play the piano at the age of five and began to compose music in the following year. He was 10 years old when he had the opportunity to play his cantata Gold for Mahler, no less, who hailed Korngold as a genius and sent him off to study with Alexander von Zemlinsky. The ballet Der Schneemann [The Snowman], composed by Korngold at the age of 11 and orchestrated by Zemlinsky, scored a sensational success at the Vienna Court Opera in October 1910. Some critics suspected the composer’s father Julius Korngold, perhaps the most influential music critic in Austria at the time, of editing his son’s work, but he disputed this: “If I could write music like him, I would not be working as a critic.”
Korngold’s best-known and most important work is the opera Die tote Stadt [The Dead City] (1920). His subsequent career largely consisted of writing film music in Hollywood, and although this removed him from the mainstream of the classical music world, he proved his skills in that genre too, winning two Oscars for his film scores.
Märchenbilder [Fairy-tale Images] is an excellent example of how precocious Korngold was as a composer. It was originally a set of seven piano pieces, completed in summer 1910, when the young composer had just turned 13. Korngold orchestrated the music one year later, and in this form it became his first independent orchestral work, although it is probable that Zemlinsky was still supervising his work at that point. The orchestral version only has six movements; the second movement has been lost.
The pieces in Märchenbilder each have a title referring to a specific fairy tale and a motto – a brief poem written by poet Hans Müller, a friend of the family. In this work, Korngold displays his ability to evoke very different moods, a skill that would later serve him well as an opera composer and as a celebrated Hollywood film composer. Märchenbilder embodies the fantasy of fairy tales and the elegance of Vienna, and as such it is a memento from the silken sheen of the old world that was to be crushed underfoot by the First World War only a few years after this work was completed.

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