Queensland Youth Symphony
Saturday 28 May 2011 7pm
QPAC Concert Hall
Conductor: John Curro AM MBE
Violin Soloist: Kristian Winther
Tickets: phone QTIX 136 246 or buy tickets online here
Pop Culture Parody - World Premiere
Violin Concerto - Soloist Kristian Winther
Iberia from Images
Daphnis & Chloe - Suite No. 2
NEW: Concert Reviews
Review by Patricia Kelly
WHAT a difference twenty-nine years can make. That is all that separated the birth dates of Johannes Brahms (born 1833) and Claude Debussy (1862), yet in that brief time span music changed so utterly, from the romantic fullness of Brahms` “Violin Concerto in D major opus 77”` to the musical “impressions” of Spain in festive mood in “Images for Orchestra No 2 - Ibéria” from Debussy, two examples that were included in this program.
And what a great title for this concert presented by our Queensland Youth Symphony. Romantic Impressions. It combines all the flavours that were blended with skill in the music, and its performance. The limpid impressions of “Daphnis and Chloé - Suite No 2” by Maurice Ravel and the glimpses of modern popular forms in “Pop Culture Parody” by young local composer-on-the-rise Joseph Twist, completed this menu.
Another young Australian artist, Kristian Winther, was soloist in the Brahms concerto, a confident performer who brought much of his own musicianship and personality to the music. For a time, the lengthy orchestral introduction lumbered heavily, lacking the affirmative stride needed to herald the soloist. In the nick of time it changed pace to prepare with a stronger momentum for the solo violin`s positive entry.
Yet no sooner was the violin on its legato way, than the soaring passages were swamped, which was not such a big deal perhaps, because the violinist Joseph Joachim who premiered the work suggested his friend Brahms lighten the orchestration in places. Gradually Kristian`s exquisite violin tone, albeit a tad lightweight for this big work, surged with a glowing warmth towards a free spirited cadenza. There was a time when a cadenza was seen as a moment of personal exploitation that pandered to a virtuoso`s vanity, but if you have something to communicate in a personal way, then go ahead and sing your song. This audience was up for it.
The adagio began with a melifluous oboe supported by quiet woodwind. Winther took an introspective position, spinning gossamer melody, a model of restraint and understatement. It was the quiet before the vitality of the allegro giocoso where Winther took the arpeggio figures with agility and ease. The orchestra played a cautious game but it did not curb the soloist`s exuberance. He leaped forward, living and loving every moment and every note.
The two French works exhuding the moods of Impressionism provided special challenges for these young players, which is to be expected for an orchestra-in-training. The Debussy score is very busy, re-creating impressions in sound of a Spanish festival, brisk, strongly rhythmic. The trick is to meld these sound colours with a smooth finish as the elements slipped from light to shadow, not attained here with complete success, although the violins playing and plucking like guitarists really lifted the spirit wonderfully.
From an audience perspective, the Ravel suite that followed was almost too much of the same. True, it was sensuous rather than glittering with exotic sounds. It was telling a romantic tale rather than describing a jolly revelry. This canvas was of softer but deeper hues, restful and dreamlike. We heard wonderful images of flutes fluttering the break of day, a rapturous development with delicate touches of solo instruments, and felt the rhapsodic atmosphere.
Perhaps it could have preceded rather than follow the Debussy, where the spinning polyphony would have pointed back to and rounded off a program that opened with Joseph Twist`s “Parody” on another cultural moment, another generation, another time.
Did Twist really imagine his pop music pastiche as a parody? It is a word with multiple nuances of meaning and it certainly did not come over as having sprung from any of those negative inferences - a caricature, a mockery, travesty, poor imitation, send-up, and so on. And if he were taking it as a humorous yet exaggerated imitation, I don`t think he was doing himself justice either.
The words “pop culture” also conjure up a series of squeaks, squeals and booms from a rock scene, but nothing like that happened. It was a skilful blend of motifs from a bygone age, but a very honorable, respectful one. And like the Debussy soundscape, Twist`s piece also slips in and out of melodies faintly familiar. Now you hear it. Now you don`t. You hear a solid orchestral tinge - of Gershwin? Romantic strings swirl. Is that flicker of “With a Song in my Heart”? Or “Some Enchanted Evening”, or “When I Fall in Love”, “Tea for Two”? Or is the imagination playing tricks and Twist is sounding a different drum entirely?
`Lady Gaga,` the composer mentions in his (elaborate) program note. Sorry, Joseph. Heard of her but not really listened nor absorbed her style. It doesn`t matter. It is jolly good writing that keeps the listener plugged into all the wondrous things composers can spin with just the few notes representing the black and white notes of an octave scale on the piano. A miracle? They are all miracles. So is this orchestra, half of which is renewed each year with a new batch of players keenly taking the place of departing graduates who must take those wonderful notes and memories with them throughout the lives. `Romantic Impressions` only says the half of it.
Review by Margaret McNamara
Having to miss one of the QYS subscription concerts left me feeling quite deprived, so imagine the pleasure of receiving a recording in the mail of Passion and Romance, their program performed in QPAC Concert Hall on Saturday 28th May with conductor John Curro and violin soloist Kristian Winther. Nothing can quite make up for the thrill of seeing those young enthusiasts in action, but it has proved an interesting experience to write about their recorded performance.
It was a world premiere that began the program with composer Joseph Twist’s overture Pop Culture Parody. In a few short minutes the audience would have recognised the QYS and its conductor in very good form as Twist’s music called on them to be dramatic and jazzy, then reflective and serene, then quite nostalgic. With the composer’s background including vocal, instrumental, jazz and film music, there was a happy match between his composition and the youthful zest of the orchestra.
Violinist Kristian Winther has described Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major as his favourite which he has been preparing for many years, and this was the occasion that he felt quite ready to perform it. How rewarding for John Curro to be able to look back to 2000 when this young performer, having just won QYO’s National Youth Concerto Competition, played the Sibelius Violin Concerto in a concert with QYS. Since then Winther’s career as a violinist with orchestras and in chamber groups has blossomed and now he joins every famous fiddler with Brahms’ Concerto in his repertoire. The audience heard a very confident performance of what is acknowledged as fiendishly difficult music, the first and third movements energetic, even rugged, with the adagio a beautifully silky contrast. With his mentor in charge of the orchestra, the young soloist must have felt that things could not have been better for his first public performance of the Brahms.
The second half of the program allowed the orchestra to create vivid musical pictures as they performed two early twentieth century French masterpieces. Debussy’s Iberia from his Images for orchestra is a three-part colourful evocation of the feelings and impressions aroused by Spain. Suite No2 of Daphnis and Chloe by Ravel, one of two derived from the ballet music written for Diaghilev, opens with a wonderful musical sunrise and develops into an energetic bacchanalia. They both call on large and varied instrumental resources and, in typical fashion, the orchestra seemed to relish the challenge of creating the impressionistic tonal colour and atmosphere in both works.
Debussy wrote in 1900, “ It is unnecessary for music to make people think….. it would be enough if it made them listen.” I’m sure my recording of Passion and Romance with QYS, John Curro and Kristian Winther will provide me with many great listening experiences.
About the Program
Passion and Romance infuse the music of Romantic Impressions, commencing with a new overture Pop Culture Parody by emerging Australian composer Joseph Twist. Pop Culture Parody pays tribute to musical styles of 20th century classical composers and, at the same time, features music from the pop culture and films.
Kristian Winther is one of Australia’s emerging violin stars and he has already performed as a soloist with the Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. In 2000, Kristian won the National Youth Concerto Competition and for his first Brisbane concerto performance since then, Kristian performs Brahms’ Violin Concerto, one of the greatest creations from the Romantic period.
In his Ibéria from Images, Debussy paints a musical picture of Spain in three sections: Par les rues et par les chemins (In the streets and by-ways), Les Parfums de la nuit (The fragrance of the night) and Le matin d’un jour de fête (The morning of the festival day). The Spanish composer Manuel De Falla praised the authenticity of this music, saying it evoked, “the intoxicating spell of Andalusian nights.”
Ravel’s ballet music for Daphnis and Chloe is regarded by many as his greatest orchestral score. The second suite encompasses the final scene of this ancient love story with the famous Lever du jour (Sunrise), an expressive Pantomime and it ends with the brilliant Danse Generale.
Violin Soloist Kristian Winther
Born in Canberra in 1984, Kristian Winther studied violin with Josette Esquedin-Morgan, and conducting with John Curro, with whom he also made his concerto debut, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in 2000. Stepping in at short notice twice in one year due to artist cancellations and playing Sibelius and Mendelssohn concertos with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Kristian has also played as soloist with the Sydney and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, the Auckland Philharmonic, and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. Kristian has also been Guest Assistant Concertmaster of the Adelaide and Western Australian symphony orchestras and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
From 2007–2008 Kristian was First Violinist with the Tinalley String Quartet, winning the 2007 Banff International String Quartet Competition. This was followed by critically acclaimed tours of the USA and Europe. He is also a composer and premiered his work for string quartet …etude at the Sydney Opera House in 2008 with the Tinalley String Quartet.
In 2009 Kristian gave the Australian premieres of Brett Dean’s violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing and conducted the Australian premiere of Andriessen’s De Stijl during the Canberra International Music Festival. Performances in 2010 included a cycle of the complete Bartok String Quartets, and with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra he conducted Mahler and the world premiere of a new song cycle by Calvin Bowman. Later that year Kristian performed and directed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the same orchestra.
Composer Joseph Twist
Joseph Twist’s eclectic experience as a composer and a musician has involved vocal and instrumental concert music, as well as jazz and film music. Joe holds three tertiary degrees in music composition, including a Doctor of Philosophy, for which he received a Dean’s commendation for outstanding PhDs. He has also studied screen composition at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney. In addition to his work as a composer, Joe is active as a singer and conductor, and he has lectured in music history and theory at the University of Queensland. Joe’s works are currently published by Morton Music in Australia and Hinshaw Music in the United States. Joe is also a represented composer with the Australian Music Centre.
Joe’s reputation has grown significantly since winning the Chanticleer Composition Competition in 2003, which included a performance of his work by Chanticleer in San Francisco. Joe is also the recipient of The Australian Voices Young Composer Award, the Gondwana Voices Young Composer Award, the Percy Brier Memorial Prize, and he was a winning finalist in the 2010-11 Cybec 21st Century Composer Program.
Joe’s music has been commissioned and performed throughout Australia and internationally by many esteemed ensembles such as Chanticleer, The Song Company, The Australian Voices, Collusion, The Southern Cross Soloists, The Birralee Blokes and Gondwana Voices. His orchestral works have been performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria. In 2008, Joe was composer-in-residence with the Sydney Children’s Choir, who performed the premiere recording of his work for an ABC Classics CD. In 2010, Joe received a commission from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and his work I Dance Myself to Sleep was selected for performance in their Metropolis series 2011.
Recent commissions have included works for Sola Voce Chamber Choir, The Consort of Melbourne, the Southern Cross Soloists (an Australia Council commission), a music theatre production for young adults and a work for combined children’s choirs with percussion, as part of the 2011 Gondwana National Choral School. Joe recently composed and conducted the orchestral score for the short film The Law directed by Brendon McDonall.
Tickets: phone QTIX 136 246 or buy tickets online here