2020 Season
The Great Romantic
Symphonic Dances
26/09/2020
Michael Fowler Centre,
Wellington

***RESCHEDULED FROM 12TH SEPTEMBER*** Psathas’ most famous work was commissioned by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. Psathas says, “This double concerto takes listeners on a journey through the world of Greek percussion styles and playing techniques. 

The first movement features an adapted transcription of improvised Greek violin music (by Stathis Koukoularis), the second movement is a tribute to my two children, and the third movement is a wild depiction of the legendary Mænads celebrating their god Dionysos with song, music and dance.”

Serenade for Strings
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Three Psalms
John PSATHAS
Michael Houstoun

Symphonic Dances
Sergei Rachmaninoff

'Three Psalms' was commissioned at the instigation of Michael Houstoun, to whom it is dedicated. This is the piece that he chooses to give as his final public performance in Wellington. The beginning, Aria, introduces a simple kind of melodic motion, which evolves throughout the concerto. This simple idea ‘tells the story’ of the concerto. The uncertain, wandering music of the second movement, Inferno, was inspired by the haunting images in James Nachtwey’s photographic elegy of the same name. The third movement takes the original melodic motion upwards by step, evolving into a celebration of one of the most ebullient passages in piano concerto literature: the initial allegro passage in the first movement of Prokofiev’s third concerto.

‘In ‘Symphonic Dances’, the fast light pulse of the opening bars maintains a constant tension as the first movement explodes into colourful activity. Soulful reeds including a saxophone interrupt with one of Rachmaninoff’s most gorgeously yearning melodies. For the second movement, spectral brass fanfares introduce a curiously halting waltz. The third movement begins with dramatic contrasts leading to a wild Spanish-flavoured dance whose slow middle section is another richly nostalgic meditation. Rachmaninoff’s favourite Dies Irae theme makes a final demonic appearance near the end.



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