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Beer + Beethoven

All tickets
$55
Incl. 1 bottle of Newstead Pale Ale. A $6.95 fee applies per transaction.

Beethoven and beer. Two things everyone loves, right? So why not combine them? Sate your thirst for music with a post-work drink and a bit of Sturm und Drang.

QSO and 4ZZZ, proudly partnering with Newstead Brewing, present the first QSOSundowner event. A harmonious combination!

THE MUSIC
Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3
Beethoven Coriolan Overture
Beethoven Piano Concerto No.4

THE MUSICIANS
The full force of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra
One of the planet’s most impressive pianists, Russian Nikolai Demidenko^
Maestro Vassilis Christopoulos, leading the charge
(Thirsty work indeed!)

THE IMPORTANT STUFF
Bar opens 5.30pm
Cheers! Ticket includes one bottle of Newstead Pale Ale*
Concert starts 6.30pm sharp
75mins, no interval

THE SMALL PRINT
* Beer voucher for exchange only 5.30-6.30pm Fri 20 May 2016, Concert Hall Foyer, QPAC. Not redeemable for cash or any other beverage. Over 18s only. Drink responsibly. An autopsy of Beethoven revealed liver damage, which may have been due to heavy alcohol consumption. Cooper, Barry (2008).

Program Notes

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37

Allegro con brio
Largo
Rondo (Allegro)

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‘You and I will never be able to do anything like that!’ exclaimed Beethoven to fellowpianist and composer Johann Baptist Cramer, as they listened to a rehearsal of the last movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C minor (K491). Beethoven’s reaction may have seemed incredible to the Beethovenworshipping generations whose appreciation of Mozart was partial and patronising, but great musicians know how to appraise each other, and Beethoven’s admiration for Mozart is obvious from his music as well as from his words. When in 1803 he composed for the first time a piano concerto in a minor key, Beethoven chose the key of Mozart’s great tragic C minor concerto. No work illustrates better than Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto the similarities and contrasts between his concertos and those of his greatest predecessor in this form of music.

Beethoven’s Third Concerto is altogether more expansive than its part-model by Mozart, but also less concentrated in effect, more varied in mood and less dominated by the minor key. The first movement’s orchestral exposition shifts early into the major, and this alternation becomes a feature of the concerto. It opens with a very long orchestral presentation of the themes, including a flowing, warm and lyrical one: fine music, but like a symphony rather than a concerto – when will the piano play? Its eventual entry is a bold one, rushing furiously up the keyboard in a scale of C minor, but it is no surprise to find that in his subsequent two piano concertos Beethoven brought the piano in at the start.

The energy of the first movement is remarkable: it has the confidence, the robustness of Beethoven’s first maturity, the period of the Kreutzer Sonata for piano and violin, and the Eroica Variations for piano solo.

The Largo begins in extraordinary calm, a mysterious effect like unearthly suspended motion, heightened by the choice of a key, E major, very distant from the C minor of the first movement. The theme, spacious, sublime yet emotional in expression, sounds a new voice which Beethoven brought to music. Later it is decorated in a richly florid manner, developing into an imitation of an operatic singer’s cadenza. In the middle part of the movement the sonorities are romantically atmospheric, as flute and bassoon exchange antiphonal phrases over rolling piano arpeggios, the piano below and pizzicato strings playing above.

The Rondo shows Beethoven in his ‘unbuttoned’ mood – a rollicking theme of rustic flavour, with the irregular accents of some peasant dance. The snapping rhythm continues in the second theme, separated from the first by a striking passage of C minor wind chords alternating with piano arpeggios. Some of the episodes of this Rondo are predominantly lyrical, others more forceful, and there is a passage of fugato development. Beethoven must have enjoyed playing this concerto, which reveals the lyrical, assertive and humorous aspects of his musical personality in such equable balance – the piano keeps the lead to the end in a presto C major coda, with off-beat interjections for the woodwinds: a highspirited ending, like an opera buffa finale, in which the composer again joins hands with Mozart.

Abridged from a note by David Garrett © 2003


Overture to Coriolan, Op.62
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‘After the unsuccessful first production of his only opera, Fidelio, Beethoven channelled his composing for the theatre into incidental music for the plays of others – above all the overtures to Coriolan (1807) and Egmont (1810). Both plays readily captured the imagination of the passionate and committed composer in this middle period of his creative life. Beethoven in his overtures seized on the vital principles of conflict and summed them up in powerful, musically self-sufficient tone poems.

He composed the Coriolan overture for a drama by Heinrich Collin, a contemporary poet doubtless familiar with Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, which was written on very similar lines. The title character of both plays is one Gaius Marcius, a Roman general who was bestowed the honorary name of Coriolanus following his conquest of the Volsci people of Corioli. When he is banished from Rome for tyrannical conduct, he leads the Volsci against Rome and is subsequently executed (in Collin’s version he commits suicide).

Powerful chords in the overture’s introduction reflect the iron determination of the hero in his resolve to reconquer and restore peace to Rome, and his stern rejection of embassies from the city which he now holds under siege. Subsequent vacillating figures reveal the self-doubt that tortures him at the thought of the famine-stricken Roman people and the pleadings of his family. The conflict in his mind is worked out in a powerful development which leads to gradual disintegration and a swift final collapse at the recognition that only the sacrifice of his own life will bring peace without loss of honour.

© Anthony Cane


Piano Concerto No.4 in G, Op.58

Allegro moderato
Andante con moto
Rondo (Vivace)
___

The question of how to begin is a judicious one and, for a composer so attuned to the effect of novelty on audiences as Ludwig van Beethoven, one of some consequence. Accordingly, we see that in his Fourth Piano Concerto he broke with established traditions and allowed the soloist to have the first word. Given this innovation, it seems surprising that after two initial performances the work remained obscure until Mendelssohn’s famous revival in 1836. Its first performance had been before a select audience in March 1807 at the home of Prince Lobkowitz, a leading patron, about a year after its completion (although delays in securing a publisher likely allowed for adjustments to be made until late in the year). Its second outing was at a marathon concert at the Theater an der Wien in December 1808, during which were also heard the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Mass in C, and the Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra, the composer appearing as both conductor and soloist.

The pianist’s introduction of the principal theme is subdued, and like many of Beethoven’s works from the time it is built on repeated-note patterns. The orchestra responds quietly and unexpectedly in the distant key of B major, although a return to the home key is swiftly engineered for the customary orchestral tutti. A contemporary account of this passage offers an amusing insight into the idiosyncratic way Beethoven exerted himself in performance: Louis Spohr, a violinist at the 1808 performance, records that at the first sforzando the composer ‘threw out his arms so wide that he knocked over both the lamps from the music stand of the piano’, leading the audience to erupt into ‘a bacchanalian riot’ as the musicians started anew, resulting in widespread inattention throughout the movement. The composer was highly esteemed for his keyboard skills, and the soloist’s passagework is appropriately detailed and refined, often forming a secondary line to principal themes. While cadenzas were later penned by a rollcall of greats (Brahms, Anton Rubinstein, Busoni and Godowsky among them), the concerto is now typically heard with the longer of two written by the composer.

The second movement is notable for its innovative structure and stands in contrast to the expansive opening movement through its relative brevity. It takes the form of a dialogue between piano and orchestra, in which the latter’s forceful insistency is slowly tempered by the former’s muted entreaties, a setting which drew comparisons to Gluck’s portrayal of Orfeo calming the Furies in his opera Orfeo ed Euridice. However, in this wordless scenario the narrative gains in substance, and in fine performances the music is capable of attaining near philosophical significance

Although it begins quietly, the theme of the final movement is driven by a bold and pervasive rhythm (a repeated-note pattern again at its core), while the overall buoyant character is enhanced by the introduction of trumpets and timpani. Through changes in tempo and mood (and a further cadenza), the coda balances in its novelty, while the orchestra’s insistent restating of the movement’s rhythmic motto over the final bars ensures a triumphant close.

Scott Davie © 2015

Biographies

Conductor

Vassilis Christopoulos

Vassilis Christopoulos is without a doubt one of Greece’s most inspiring conductors, equally at home on the concert podium as in the opera pit. His interpretations are characterized by their structural coherence, stylistic clarity, and...
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Soloist-in-Residence 2016

Nikolai Demidenko

Nikolai Demidenko’s passionate virtuosity and musicianship has brought him worldwide recognition. Frequent London recitals have included the Great Performers series at the Barbican, the International Piano Series at Southbank Centre, and recently in the London...
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^The Soloist-in-Residence program is supported by the T & J St Baker Charitable Trust.
With special thanks to QPAC and the University of Queensland.