Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Benjamin Northey conductor
Li-Wei Qin cello
Mozart Symphony No.39 Paris
Coleridge-Taylor Symphonic Variations on an African Air
Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations
About this performance
Composers have long used the idea of variations to extend and play with their own (and others’) musical ideas – there are recorded instances of this technique from as early as 1538! This program explores two different examples, plus one of Mozart’s most famous symphonies.
- After a performance of his Sinfonia Concertante in Paris was “sabotaged” by a conductor in the spring of 1778, Mozart received a consolatory commission from the same organisation to write an orchestral work. This became the aptly named Paris Symphony, which begins with one of the most thrilling movements in the composer’s symphonic catalogue.
- Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was something of a celebrity in the British music scene while he was alive and working, overshadowing Elgar on occasion. His symphonic work Variations on an African Air is based on the African-American folk song “I’m Troubled In Mind”. The piece, according to musicologist Herbert Antcliffe, is the perfect opportunity to get to know the criminally underperformed Variations: “No single work of his will reveal him more fully.”
- Tchaikovsky was going through a period of depression when he wrote this work, but used his compositional practice to improve his mood. He told the cellist (and the dedicatee of the Rococo Variations) Wilhelm Fitzenhagen that Rococo meant “a carefree feeling of well-being.”