30 Jun 2022

Music Alive: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra - Winter Magic

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 30 June 2022

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Music Director Giordano Bellincampi conducts this programme of imagination, heartache and fate.

Sofia GUBAIDULINA: Fairy Tale Poem

Sofia Gubaidulina

Sofia Gubaidulina Photo: D Smirnov

Fairytale Poem from 1971 gives a musical rendering of a Czech fairytale, The Little Chalk. Sofia Gubaidulina tells the tale in her words:

The main character is a small piece of chalk used for writing on school blackboards. The chalk dreams that some day it will draw wonderful castles, beautiful gardens with pavilions and the sea. But, day in and day out, it’s forced to write boring words, numbers and geometric figures... One day, the chalk finds itself in total darkness and thinks that it’s died. But the darkness of death is actually a boy’s trouser pocket. The boy pulls the chalk from his pocket and in the light of day begins to draw on the road – castles, gardens with pavilions, and the sunlit sea. The chalk is so happy that it does not notice how its life runs out while drawing this beautiful world.'

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

SCHUBERT: Symphony No 8 in B minor D759, Unfinished

If there’s one thing most people know about Franz Schubert, it’s that his most popular symphony is unfinished.

He began composing it in 1822 and after finishing the first two movements, he abandoned the project, leaving only sketches of a third movement scherzo.

One theory says that the Entr’acte from Schubert’s incidental music to the play Rosamunde is the missing fourth movement.

Schubert never heard the symphony played – and it wasn’t until 43 years after this music had been composed that it was performed.

It was a case of a rediscovered masterpiece. In 1865, a seventy-six-year-old man came forward to a Viennese conductor with the astonishing news that he had a Schubert symphony. Well, part of one that Schubert had sent him, some forty-three years earlier.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No 4 in F minor Op 36

Of his 4th Symphony, Tchaikovsky wrote to a friend that, on a technical level his work was ‘a reflection of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. I have not, of course, copied Beethoven’s musical content, only borrowed the central idea.’ This comment seems to be drawing the parallel between the two famous themes of fate that recur through both works.

The year of the work’s composition, 1877, was indeed a fateful one for the composer. In this year the long term support of his patron Nadezhda von Meck commenced - while she insisted they never meet, her patronage required agile long-distance management from Tchaikovsky. It did, however, free him hum-drum gigs to support himself and lasted for 13 years.

Midway through the year Tchaikovsky toppled into an ill-advised marriage with a former pupil. Two weeks into the arrangement he fled. He returned for another go, but this time he only lasted 11 days before a full nervous breakdown which left him passed out for two weeks. While they never divorced, he and his wife remained estranged for the remainder of his life.

The tempestuous year maybe explains why Tchaikovsky broke his own rule to reveal to von Meck the some of the meaning behind the music. Of the opening movement he wrote:

‘The introduction is the seed of the whole symphony, undoubtedly the central theme. This is Fate, i.e., that fateful force which prevents the impulse towards happiness from entirely achieving its goal, forever on jealous guard lest peace and well-being should ever be attained in complete and unclouded form, hanging above us like the Sword of Damocles, constantly and unremittingly poisoning the soul. Its force is invisible, and can never be overcome. Our only choice is to surrender to it, and to languish fruitlessly. . . .’

Recorded by RNZ Concert in Auckland Town Hall, 30 June 2022
Producer: Tim Dodd
Engineer: Adrian Hollay

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