Saturday, July 26, 2008

Southern Sinfonia presents Carmina Burana

Saturday, 9 August 2008, 8:00 pm
Dunedin Town Hall

Conductor: Werner Andreas Albert
Soloists: Tenor John Murray, Soprano Barbara Graham and Baritone Jared Holt, with the City of Dunedin Choir


Psathas: Pirogov/Cauldron Lighting (Shostakovich arr. Psathas)
Rachmaninov: Cinq Études-Tableaux
Orff: Carmina Burana

John Psathas (born 1966)
is one of New Zealand's most frequently performed composers. He has established an international profile and receives regular commissions from organisations in New Zealand and overseas. Psathas was one of New Zealand's best kept secrets until he composed the music for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, an extract of which features in this concert. It is fitting that this concert is planned for the evening following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Rachmaninoff (1 April 1873 - 28 March 1943)
was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. He was one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, the last great representative of Russian late Romanticism in classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom which included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.

His works for piano solo include the two especially difficult sets of Études-Tableaux, Opp. 33 and 39, which are very demanding study pictures. Stylistically, Op. 33 hearkens back to the preludes, while Op. 39 shows the influences of Scriabin and Prokofiev. These sets were supposed to be "picture pieces", though Rachmaninoff did not disclose what each piece suggests, stating, "I don't believe in the artist that discloses too much of his images. Let them paint for themselves what it most suggests."

In 1929, conductor and music publisher Serge Koussevitsky asked whether Rachmaninoff would select a group of etudes tableaux for Italian composer Ottorino Respighi to orchestrate. The commissioned orchestrations would be published by Koussevitsky's firm and Koussevitsky would conduct their premiere with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rachmaninoff responded favourably, selecting five etudes from Opp. 33 and 39. Respeghi rearranged the order of etudes but was otherwise faithful to the composer's intent, giving each etude a distinct title from the programmic clues Rachmaninoff had given him:

1. La Mer et Les Mouettes (The Sea and the Seagulls) (Op. 39 No. 2)
2. La Foire (The Fair) (Op. 33 No. 7)
3. Marche Funebre (Funeral March) (Op. 39 No. 7)
4. La Chaperon Rouge et Le Loupe (Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf) (Op. 39 No. 6)
5. Marche (March) (Op. 39 No. 9)6.

Orff (10 July 1895 - 29 March 1982) was a 20th-century German composer, most famous for Carmina Burana. He was also successful and influential in the field of music education. His Carmina Burana was hugely popular in Nazi Germany after its premiere in Frankfurt in 1937, receiving numerous performances. But the composition with its unfamiliar rhythms was also denounced with racist taunts.

Read more about Carmina Burana at

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