Concert Programme Notes
1. Waltz of the flowers from Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite
Featuring Harpist – Nigel Foo
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (pronounced PYOT-uhr il-YEETCH chigh-KOFF-ski) wrote some of the best known and most performed music of all time. He was most famous, and indeed very famous, for his wonderful and exciting ballet scores and symphonies.
In both he demonstrated a great skill with melody, unmatched orchestral energy and the ability to express the deepest of emotions. His ‘real’ life wasn’t a happy one at all though. His mum died when he was just 14 and he missed her terribly. He actually wrote most of his early pieces for her.
As an adult he had terrible doubts about himself and it is in his sublime music that he expresses all of these feelings. That is also why his music is some of the best loved and most performed in the world – happy, sad, excited, miserable, Tchaikovsky’s music really makes us ‘feel’.
Waltz of the flowers is a piece from the orchestral music from the second act of Tchaikovsky ballet, the Nutcracker Suite – whereby it is a story about a young German girl (Clara) who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and his fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads.
The waltz of the flowers is the final dance of the ballet in the Land of Sweets – where all of the Sugar Plum Fairy’s sweets dance together to in honour of Clara for saving the Nutcracker Prince’s life.
2. Zigeunerweisen (tzi-goiner-vei-sen) aka Gypsy Air
Featuring Violinist Jacob Cheng
As one of the most famous violinist in the 19th century, Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate was also the author of many celebrated virtuoso works for his instrument, of which the best known are his Carmen Fantasy and Ziguenerweisen aka Gypsy Air.
Composed in 1878, the melodies in Gypsy Air were not written based on the Gypsies in his native country – Spain. But rather of the Hungarian Gypsies which Sarasate encountered during his concert tour in Europe.
Zigeunerweisen is disposed in two large paragraphs of contrasting nature. A bold orchestral summons based on a grave theme introduces the soloist, who continues the opening mood with an accompanied cadenza and a sad lament utilizing a gapped-scale melody of considerable pathos. Though the musical substance of this first section is simple and direct, the soloist embroiders it with a rich overlay of trills, grace notes, harmonics, glissandi, pizzicati and spiccati. After a grand pause, the tempo quickens and the mood brightens for the closing section, a blazing dance in the most brilliant Gypsy manner energized by an entire fusillade of violin pyrotechnics.
3. Flower Duet by Leo Delibes
Featuring Soprano Jing Yun & Mezzo Soprano Priscilla
The flower duet is a famous duet for soprano and mezzo soprano from Leo Delibes’s opera Lakme. This duet takes place in Act 1 of the three act opera where the daughter of the Brahmin priest – Lakme and her servant (Mallika) are left behind and go down to the river to gather flowers where they sing the “Flower Duet”.
As they approach the water at the river bank, Lakmé removes her jewelry and places it on a bench. A party of British officers, Frederic and Gérald, arrive nearby while on a picnic with two British girls and their governess. The British girls see the jewelry and request sketches; Gérald volunteers to stay and make sketches of the jewelry. He sees Lakmé and Mallika returning and hides. Mallika leaves Lakmé for a while; while alone Lakmé sees Gérald and, frightened by the foreigner’s incursion, cries out for help. However, simultaneously, she is intrigued and so she sends away those who had responded to her call for help when they come to her rescue. Lakmé and Gérald begin to fall in love with each other. Nilakantha (Lakme’s father) returns and learns of the British officer’s trespassing and vows revenge on him for his affront to Lakmé’s honor.
Like other French operas of the period, Lakmé captures the ambience of the Orient seen through Western eyes, which was periodically in vogue during the latter part of the 19th century.
*Fun fact: The duet is frequently used in advertisements and films and is popular as a concert piece. Guess which advertisement? It was adapted for the track “Aria” in the British Airways “face” advertisements of the 1980s by Yanni and Malcolm McLaren.
4. Symphonic Day Out of Cartoons
Specially arranged for MPPO by Sulwyn Lok
A compilation of children’s cartoon pieces weaved together by Sulwyn Lok, featuring Pororo, Blaze and the monster machines, Top Wings, Paw Patrol, Shimmer and Shine, my little pony and also a certain famous shark! Explore these familiar cartoon themes as they unfold in front of you. Spot these tunes with their new interpretation, which are given a new breathe of life, by the magic and wittiness of our composer.
5. Pokemon Go Medley
With special permission by arranger : Andres Soto
Avid Pokemon GO players will definitely recognize this orchestral arrangement of the game’s soundtrack, journey through the game with music from the intro, to the map theme, to catching pokemon and even raid battles!
Haven’t had enough of the avengers? Let the orchestra brings you back the experience of Avengers with the main theme from the Avengers.
Disney’s animated blockbuster Incredibles has a great soundtrack to match the nonstop action in the movie. Experience the fast-paced, exciting and heroic spy-jazz theme from The Incredibles.
8. Pictures at the Exhibition
Movement 9: The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga)
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky wrote his Pictures at an Exhibition in honour of a friend, a painter called Vladimir Hartmann who died at 39, at the peak of his career. Originally write for piano, this 10 pieces suite has become a showcase piece for virtuoso pianists. It was then further known through various orchestrations and arrangements by other musicians and composers, with Maurice Ravel’s arrangement being performed and recorded the most.
Mussorgsky based his musical ideas on Hartmann’s drawings and watercolours and amongst the 10 pieces in this suite, you will be listening to movement 9: The Hut on Hen’s Legs (Baba Yaga) and movement 10: The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital of Kiev).
Baba Yaga – Baba Yaga is a supernatural being who appears in deformed/ ferocious looking woman in Slavic folklore. In Russian fairytales, Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar and dwells deep in the forest hut and usually being described as standing on chicken legs. It may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out and has associations with forest wildlife.
In this movement, you will hear bells resemble a large clock and a whirlwind sound of chase. Not very pleasant to the ear, but definitely describes the character and appearance of Baba Yaga.
Movement 10: The Bogatyr Gates (In the Capital of Kiev)
Bogatyrs are heroes that appear in Russian oral epic poem. Hartmann (the painter) designed a monumental gate for Alexander II (Emperor of Russian) to commemorate the monarch’s narrow escape from an assassination in 1866. Hartmann’s design won the national competition but plans to build the structure were later cancelled.
This movement has a very grand opening whereby depicts the splendor of the monumental gate and the Emperor, followed by a solemn secondary theme based on a baptismal hymnal from Russian Orthodox chant.