THE PLANETS BY GUSTAV HOLST
|Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - 8:00 PM||Done|
|Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 8:00 PM||Done|
|Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 10:30 AM||Done|
Presentation of the concert
Simon Bertrand, Gravité (inspired by a work by Jean-Paul Riopelle) (approx. 4 min)**
Scott Good, Evening, North Shore, Lake Superior (inspired by a work by Franklin Carmichael) (approx. 4 min)**
Jeffrey Ryan, Moving, Still (inspired by a work by Betty Goodwin) (approx. 4 min)**
Elgar, Concerto for Cello in E minor, op. 85 (approx. 30 min)
Holst, The Planets (approx. 50 min)
*Alain Altinoglu had to cancel his initially planned trip to Montréal for health reasons. He will be replaced by OSM Assistant Conductor, Dina Gilbert.
**Concerts of April 12 and 13 only.
April 12 and 13 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Rachel Mahon, organ
Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral in London
Villiers Stanford, Fantasia and Toccata, op. 57 (approx. 12 min)
Whitlock, Reflections: Three quiet pieces (excerpt): III. Dolcezza (approx. 4 min)
Howells, Rhapsody, op. 17, no. 1 (approx. 7 min)
Hastings Parry, Chorale Prelude on "St Ann's" (approx. 6 min)
Ours cheeses, privileged partner of talks and organ preconcerts
On October 30, 2013, three miniatures commissioned by the OSM to Canadian composers received their world premieres in this hall. Each of these Canadians – Simon Bertrand, Scott Good and Jeffrey Ryan – drew for his inspiration on a painting, not necessarily as programmatic content for the music, but rather as points of departure in emotional terms, much as Holst did in his Planets, which, nearly a century after they were composed, retain their ability to shock and awe in stunning orchestral displays. Elgar’s richly romantic Cello Concerto fills out this bountiful British program.
Born in Montréal, Novembre 27, 1969 – Lives in Montréal
Simon Bertrand was nominated for the Opus Prize for Best New Work of the Year in 2011-2012, and in January 2013 he received the Opus Prize for Composer of the Year. Bertrand thinks of Gravité, inspired by Riopelle’s 1956 painting Gravity, as a cross between Messiaen and Dutilleux on the one hand and the American minimalism of John Adams on the other. He explains:
“Rather than attempting to create a simple musical interpretation of Riopelle’s eponymous painting, I tried to imagine the thought processes that gave birth to it as well as the physical work the artist underwent in the painting process. Also, when an observer sees a canvas for the first time, there are several stages in the viewing process: first impression, standing back for another look, focusing on details, a last glance before moving on, etc. It is interesting,” continues Bertrand, “that one can already discover birds concealed in the wonderful chaos of this painting, an intriguing thought when one considers how important birds were to Riopelle in his late work. I couldn’t resist incorporating this element into my musical tribute to this great Quebec artist, one who could be modern while also being “one of us.”
Born in Toronto, Avril 8, 1972 – Lives in Toronto
Evening, North Shore, Lake Superior
Scott Good studied composition with Samuel Adler, Gary Kulesha, Christos Hatzis, Chan Ka Nin and Joseph Schwantner, and trombone with John Marcellus and Alain Trudel. Among his many prizes and awards are those from the Winnipeg New Music Festival Composers Competition (1996), the SOCAN Young Composers Competition (2000-2001) as well as the John Weinzweig Prize (1999).
Evening, North Shore, Lake Superior was inspired by the painting Evening North Shore by Franklin Carmichael. The composer writes: “This painting has personal significance, as I have been to this place many times. Carmichael’s careful choice of subjects: a thriving landscape and decay, reveals a microcosm of the life cycle. The dying trees reach out in the evening of their life – are they yearning for the last rays of sunshine, or offering an invitation to join? The music is written to evoke this kind of contemplation. The bulk of the orchestra paints the trees through the intoning of intervals of the perfect fifth, establishing the mood, harmonic rhythm, and color. The English horn comments as the observing protagonist, reflecting emotionally on what the landscape offers. The cymbals wash throughout, gently intoning the wind moving through the branches and caressing the observer.”
Born in Toronto, February, 1962 – Lives in Toronto
Jeffrey Ryan has been composer in residence with the Vancouver Symphony, affiliate composer of the Toronto Symphony, and guest composer with the Winnipeg Symphony’s New Music Festival. He has been nominated three times for a Juno Award. Moving, Still is dedicated to the memory of Betty Goodwin.
“The work of Canadian artist Betty Goodwin (1923-2008) expresses duality: fragility with strength, surface with depth, individuality with collectivity. Two dimensions create the illusion of three. Solid black from a distance reveals flashes of colors up close. The still form of a nest belies the inner movement of countless twigs that weave around each other and seek to escape. Moving, Still reflects these qualities in sound: layer upon layer, color upon color, tempo upon tempo, the sustained tones of a single large chord enclosing constant activity.”
Bertrand, Good & Ryan – © Lucie Renaud.
Translated by Robert Markow.
Born in Broadheath, June 2, 1857 – Died in Worcester, February 23, 1934
Cello Concerto in E minor, op. 85
The Cello Concerto was Elgar’s last important work, completed in the summer of 1919. Elgar was to live for another 15 years, but with the death in 1920 of his wife, who had been such a deep source of both personal and professional aid to the composer, inspiration to create seemed to have left Elgar. Without her he felt dejected, lost, melancholic to an even greater degree than before. Indeed, moods of despair, disillusionment and inferiority had haunted him throughout his life – lack of social status, insecurity about the popularity of his music, and especially the Great War contributed to these moods. Into his Cello Concerto Elgar poured his most personal utterances and the sense of resignation that affects those in the autumn of their lives. The mournful, poignant tone of the cello seems to emphasize this quality, further heightened by the restraint with which Elgar uses the orchestra in this work.
Though unsuccessful at its premiere, the concerto quickly became a favorite with cellists and audiences alike, and it has remained one of the Elgar’s best-known works. The first performance took place in Queen’s Hall, London, on October 26, 1919 with the composer conducting the London Symphony. Felix Salmond was the soloist.
The concerto is in four movements, each distinctive, each with its own hallmarks of Elgar’s inimitable style. The first opens with an Adagio, beginning with a somber but striking passage for the soloist alone and stretching across all four strings of the instrument simultaneously. Violas pick up the theme and weave a quietly flowing theme. “In its world-weary way,” writes Michael Kennedy, it is the music of autumn smoke and falling leaves.” Woodwinds initiate the second theme, somewhat brighter in mood.
The second movement follows after the briefest of pauses, and is notable for the alternation of its light, scherzo-like passages of quicksilver writing and deft orchestration with a heavier, jaunty theme. Donald Francis Tovey called the movement “impish.”
The next movement stands in greatest possible contrast. Though only 60 bars in length, this Adagio is one of Elgar’s most sublime pages. To quote Kennedy again, it is “a lament for thoughts that lie too deep for tears, perfectly suited to the cello at its most songfully sustained, and ending with a dominant cadence, as if the tonic key was too positive.”
The finale is cast in rondo form, with its swaggering, self-assured principal theme alternating with contrasting episodes. In a gesture of nostalgia, Elgar brings back the solo cello’s theme of broken chords that opened the concerto, but a strong, final recurrence of the rondo theme sweeps away the memory of things past with a grand flourish.
Born in Cheltenham, September 21, 1874 – Died in London, May 25, 1934
The Planets, op. 32
Since time immemorial, man has looked upon the heavens with a sense of awe, wonder, imagination and mystery. It was inevitable that interpretations of outer space would find their way into artistic endeavors, including our music. Composition of The Planets occupied Holst from 1914 to 1917. The first complete performance was conducted by Albert Coates on November 15, 1920. Such is the music’s originality, imagination and sensationalism that audiences have been looking ever since into Holst’s catalogue for more works of this nature − in vain. Atypical as it may be, The Planets remains by far Holst’s most popular work. Holst claimed that the individual titles of his Planets “were suggested by the astrological significance of the planets; there is no program music, neither have they any connection with the deities of classical mythology.”
MARS – Mars represents the brutish, unfeeling, inhuman nature of mechanized warfare. “Unpleasant and terrifying” were Holst’s words to describe how the music should sound.
VENUS – The antidote to the cruel, terrible oppression of Mars is Venus, in music of soothing melodic contours, predictable rhythmic patterns and pastel colors.
MERCURY – Motion resumes for the next planet, portrayed in music of scintillating brilliance, sparkling colors, and rapidly pulsating shifts of light and shade.
JUPITER – Astrologer Noel Tye tells us that Jupiter “symbolizes expansiveness, scope of enthusiasm, knowledge, honor, and opportunity.” Holst’s Jupiter corresponds in all these respects, depicting the quintessence of the plump, jovial fellow who knows how to enjoy life and lives it to the fullest.
SATURN – Grey, mournful sounds greet our ears at the beginning of Saturn. Like the inexorable ticking of some cosmic clock, flutes and harps mark the unstoppable passage of time. The music evokes despair, weariness, and, eventually, protest and terror.
URANUS – In astrology, Uranus rules over astrologers themselves. It also rules inventors; hence, it is entirely appropriate to imagine in Holst’s music a kind of “sorcerer’s apprentice” scenario, with a mad magician racing about his dungeon workshop and, at the climactic moment, exulting in some arcane discovery about the nature of the universe.
NEPTUNE – ... and on into the furthest reaches of the known solar system (Pluto was discovered only in 1930). Nearly tuneless, often without any kind of metrical pulse, and played pianissimo throughout, the music takes on at times an ethereal beauty, at others terrifying mystery. A wordless female chorus (ideally, placed offstage) creates the sensation of a dreadful chill, adding to the aura of remoteness and haunting visions of empty space.
Elgar & Holst – © Robert Markow.
Prices include a non-refundable service fee of $9.00 per ticket. Some handling fee may be charged.