First NZSO tour of 2014
20 February 2014 - NZSO Media Release for immediate release
First NZSO tour of 2014 features concerto by Academy Award-winning composer
Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto, which has enjoyed increasing international popularity in recent times, is one of three symphonic works that the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will be performing on their first national tour of 2014, Visions of Happiness.
NZSO Music Director Pietari Inkinen conducts the concert tour that also features Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll in a concert of evocative music. Inkinen returns to New Zealand following his acclaimed success conducting the Melbourne Ring, a project that has further cemented his special affiliation and relationship with the music of Wagner.
Russian violinist Mikhail Ovrutsky, who last appeared with the NZSO in 2011 for Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Double Concerto, returns to play Korngold’s Violin Concerto. Ovrutsky has won an astonishing number of prizes in international competitions, including the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
Korngold, who won two academy awards for his film scores and two additional award nominations, was long overlooked by serious music audiences. Now, however, his violin concerto is enjoying a rapid increase in popularity.
The composer, Austro-Hungarian by birth and of Jewish heritage, was working in California when conditions in pre-WWII Europedeclined drastically for Jews. Though he later credited working in Hollywood for saving his life, the film scores he worked on during the war years somewhat eclipsed his previous reputation as a brilliant composer of works for the concert hall and opera stage. In Europe, he was lauded by great names such as Mahler and Puccini, who declared him “the greatest hope of German music”.
More recently, Korngold’s Violin Concerto has been seen as a significant addition to the violin repertoire. A glitteringly romantic work with soaring melodies, the concerto affords our soloist Ovrutsky great scope for virtuosity.
Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony was composed during a time of great personal difficulty. It is filled with the tragic beauty and depth of feeling that have made him – the most tormented of composers - adored by generations of concertgoers.
The concert title, Visions of Happiness, is drawn from a letter that Tchaikovsky wrote to his patroness Madame von Meck in 1878, explaining part of the symphony:
‘Thus all life is an unbroken alternation of hard reality with swiftly passing dreams and visions of happiness. No haven exists. Drift upon the sea until it engulfs and submerges you in its depths.’
However, this symphony is not wholly overwhelmed with grief. Tchaikovsky describes the message of the symphony’s last movement: that trouble is tempered by life’s simple pleasures enjoyed with friends.
‘Go to the people… They still enjoy simple, primitive pleasures; join them, and life will yet be bearable.’
Immensely personal visions of domestic happiness are the basis of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll. Composed in celebration of his wife Cosima’s birthday, this work was first performed on the staircase to her room, waking her to music of great personal meaning.
Join us for this evening of rich, evocative music, presented in association with Principal Tour Partner, the NZSO Foundation.