Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Angus Insights

From guest conductor David Angus, who leads the SA Symphony this weekend:
Haydn: Symphony No. 94, "Surprise"

I love Haydn, because of his originality and his sense of fun.

His symphonies are often used simply as "fillers" in programmes, but they are so energetic and entertaining, as well as beautiful and expressive, that they deserve the highest respect and affection. I always look for any chance to include them. We have learnt a lot from the authentic performance specialists, and, instead of the old-fashioned heavy slow readings that I grew up with, we can now perform them with muscle and excitement. The joke of the "surprise" is well known, but this movement takes the simplest of themes (which also appears in his "Seasons") and constructs a wonderful set of variations of increasing complexity. However, for me, the most entertaining movement is the finale with its surprise twists of tonality and dynamics, and its high energy.

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez

This wonderful concerto with its famous melody has long been a favourite of mine, but I have never conducted it before, so this is going to be a great pleasure for me. It is always difficult to balance a solo guitar with an orchestra, so my job will be very delicate, accompanying sensitively whilst maintaining the panache of the Spanish style, particularly in the outer movements. Our Cor Anglais player will enjoy his/her moment of glory with the superb solo in the slow movement.

Nielsen: Symphony No. 4, "The Inextinguishable"

Nielsen is the greatest Danish composer and, as I am half Danish, I am proud to be bringing this masterpiece to you. I have already performed his Fifth and Sixth symphonies several times, and they are extremely original and powerful works. This Fourth symphony is a real powerhouse, with huge dramatic tension, which releases into lovely pastoral sections that refer to Danish folksong. In the final movement, Nielsen brings in a second set of timpani and the two players compete in a thrilling stereo battle which involves the whole orchestra. This is truly one of the most exciting finales in all music.

This characterful programme is a lovely balance between the smaller scale, more intimate first half, and the massive dramatic symphony which will leave us all, performers and audience alike, emotionally drained but thrilled. I couldn't have wished for a more exciting evening for my debut with this orchestra!

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