A SHORT READ BEFORE THE CONCERT BEGINS.
JONATHAN HENDERSON / CURATOR
Raucous Beethoven meets modern Australian chamber works for flute and piano.
Welcome to SONIC BEETHOVEN, an exuberant recital of music bursting with inventiveness and imagination. Across the next hour, we will perform four moving works both aesthetically varied and distinct in personality. Alongside powerful music by Australian composers Lisa Cheney and Paul Dean, you will hear Beethoven’s youthful, naïve side revealed.
To attend a Contra Concert permits you an hour to switch off, recharge and disconnect from deadline mode. We invite you to rebel against your smartphone and dare to get nothing done! Sit back, let your mind wander and share in the rare exchange of music between performers and audience, only achievable in the intimacy of the chamber music salon.
Contra Concerts are proud to partner with Southern Cross Soloists to be able to present this concert. I can think of no better project than one which brings my closest chamber partners and friends together to play in such an intimate setting – my favourite kind of music-making. We are excited to play for you today and thank you for attending our debut series.
flutist / curator
A SHORT READ BEFORE THE CONCERT BEGINS.
Title page of Beethoven's Serenade in D major op.41 for Piano and Flute; First edition, Hoffmeister & Kühnel, n.d. Plate 273.
Visceral new Australian music collides with 18th Century classicism in today’s recital, with the dynamic scope of the flute-piano duo setting on full display. When juxtaposed, the defining traits of these two separate musical genres are enhanced, as each jarring shift across centuries refreshes the palette. No matter how subtle or overtly expressed, this music is fragile, dynamic and emotional and as such, boldly reflects the human condition.
Around the time Beethoven composed his first Symphony and the early piano sonatas, two small-scale works reveal a surprisingly naïve and youthful spirit–a side of Beethoven less often celebrated. You will hear an elegant, restrained Beethoven, but not without a hint of his iconically boisterous temperament unleashed.
In two powerful Australian works we see all tradition and formalities dissolved; replaced by overt, literal reference to the composers’ lived experience and emotional narrative. On a personal scale, Lisa Cheney reflects significant life changes, precious moments from home and dreams of other-worldly cosmic visions. Paul Dean expresses anxiety, desperation and inner turmoil on a universal scale in his highly virtuosic language.
Notes by Jonathan Henderson unless otherwise indicated
Ludwig van Beethoven
Serenade in D major op.41 for Piano and Flute (1801)
There is an aura of mystery surrounding Beethoven’s salon suite, the Serenade in D major. We do not know when it was composed, or what prompted its conception in the first place. The rare combination of flute, violin and viola–the original instrumentation–leaves us wondering if Beethoven wasn't fulfilling a commission from a noble family who played in this unconventional combination. Or perhaps he relished the challenge of writing a piece without a true bass part. Whilst the arrangement for flute and piano was not initiated by Beethoven, he did edit and authorise it–signed with the express mention 'revûe par l’Auteur'. Of romantic character within classical scale, the lovable Serenade is a delightful offshoot of the 18th Century divertimento tradition. Joyous and at times, saccharine-sweet, a full range of variations is included; the opening spritely march, a skipping presto and closing contredanse all dazzle with excitement.
Heavenly Bodies for flute and piano (2021)
World premiere: Saturday May 22, Brisbane
Bodies are heavenly. They are amazing, precious, breakable, humbling and are capable of events that feel magical. The night before my daughter was born, just as labour was beginning, my husband and I were told by a friend to look up at the night sky. As we walked on to our front porch and gazed upward, we were met with a sight that will be stay with us forever. There in a pitch-black sky, empty of stars, was a perfect full moon and two gleaming bright planets dotted beneath it, Jupiter and Saturn. The timing of such a magical sight left us feeling humbled. I was reminded of our place in space and time, whilst the air around us felt alive with magic and anticipation. Heavenly bodies are planets, stars or other celestial bodies in space and this is embedded into the fabric of the music. In this piece, I also think of our bodies quite literally as human beings. More specifically, the birth of my daughter and how our bodies worked together to bring her life in to the world. It’s an event that still feels full of magic, struggle and wonderment.
Notes by the composer
Ludwig van Beethoven
Rondo a Capriccio op.129 (1795)
A commotion of childish tantrums unfurls in Beethoven’s famous Rondo a Capriccio Op.129 (better known as The Rage over the Lost Penny). This colourful title appears on the autograph manuscript but is not in Beethoven's handwriting; it is attributed to his biographer Anton Schindler, an Austrian law clerk–no doubt an in-joke between friends. Launching right on the downbeat with a heavy-handed, 'all'ongarese' theme, endless twists and turns spin it in ever new variations. The irony here being this compact, cheeky romp over the keys is considered a show of Beethoven’s lighter side.
Falling Ever Deeper (2014)
I originally intended the title Falling Ever Deeper to be one intimating total melancholy and as an emotional reaction to some immense personal challenges I faced during 2014. But as the piece developed I realised that the phrase Falling Ever Deeper could have positive resonances as well as the perhaps more obvious negative ones. So, the piece in essence gives a fairly accurate account of a journey through crisis, isolation and moving on. The opening movement, Maelstrom, is dominated by the musical scream played by both instruments at the beginning of the movement. Of course this ‘scream’ has emotional overtones, but musically represented my overriding intention to have the flute an equal in the balance between the two instruments throughout the composition of the entire work. The second movement, Void, is an opportunity for the lyrical and timbre possibilities of the flute and the player to be explored and discovered. The last movement, Epiphany, is intentionally more up beat emotionally than the first two. Drama, speed and accuracy of the intricate articulations are the main points of focus.
Notes by the composer
ABOUT TODAY'S PERFORMERS
flute / curator
Jonathan Henderson trained with Europe’s leading flute professors and has carved out a multifaceted musical career spanning from Australia to the Nordic countries. Whilst still a student at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Jonathan was appointed Principal Flute of the Estonian National Opera Orchestra at age twenty-four. He has appeared as a guest principal flute with the Turku Philharmonic and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestras (Finland), and has performed with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra and MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral engagements and recitals have seen him perform at the Lucerne Festival, Tallinn Chamber Music Festival, Audi Sommerkonzerte and BBC Proms. As concerto soloist, Jonathan gave the world premiere of a new flute concerto composed for him by Australian Composer Lisa Cheney, commissioned by the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra. In Australia, Jonathan has performed as guest artist at the Craven Creek and Brisbane Music Festivals. In 2020 Jonathan was appointed as flute soloist with one of Australia's most celebrated chamber ensembles, the Southern Cross Soloists, after appearing regularly with the group as Associate Artist in their 2019 QPAC Subscription Series. Jonathan completed his early musical training at the Queensland Conservatorium (Australia), followed by further performance studies at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (Germany) and the Haute École de Musique Genève (Switzerland).
Described by Limelight Magazine as “a soloist of superb virtuosic skill and musicality”, Australian classical pianist Alex Raineri (b. 1993) is internationally active as recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. International performances include tours throughout California, South-East Asia, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Germany and Austria. Alex has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio NZ, California Capital Public Radio, ABC Classic FM and all of the Australian MBS Networks. As a concerto soloist he has featured with the Queensland, Tasmanian, Darwin and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, Southern Cross Soloists, Orchestra Victoria, Four Winds Festival Orchestra, Bangalow Festival Orchestra and the Queensland Pops Orchestra. Alex has been the recipient of a number of major awards including the Kerikeri International Piano Competition and Australian National Piano Award. Alex is the pianist with the Southern Cross Soloists and other notable chamber partnerships include; Andreas Ottensamer, Twoset Violin, eighth blackbird, ELISION, Sara Macliver, Natalie Clein, Greta Bradman, Li Wei Qin, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Jack Liebeck, Kathryn Stott, Slava Grigoryan, Brett Dean and many others. He is the artistic director of the annual Brisbane Music Festival and is a passionate exponent of contemporary music having given 129 world premieres and 89 Australian premiere performances to date. Discography includes; Transfiguration (2019), Inventions (2019), I’ll Walk Beside You – Teddy Tahu Rhodes & Southern Cross Soloists (2018 – ABC Classics) and braneworlds – Kupka’s Piano (2017).
Lisa Cheney (born 1987) is an Australian composer. Cheney writes music for orchestra, chamber, voice, acousmatic collaborations and works for stage. Her music reflects an interest in the 'edge of beauty’; whether it be through a human-like fragility, poeticism or variations in resonant space, timbral transitions, pacing or light and dark sound worlds. Cheney's work has been described as 'atmospheres of unfathomable spaciousness' (Partial Durations), 'melodic slivers with plaintive intensity' (The Australian) and 'fantastic and frightening in its detail and colour' (Resonate). Cheney has received several accolade and awards, including the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund, Dorian Le Gallienne Award and was a finalist for Instrumental Work of the Year at the 2018 Art Music Awards for her cello work ‘When We Speak’. Her music has been commissioned and performed by The Southern Cross Soloists, The Australian Voices, Plexus, Syzygy, Sydney Antiphony, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Ballet amongst others. She is also a co-founder of Making Waves. Cheney holds degrees from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, where she studied with Gerard Brophy and Dr. Gerardo Dirie respectively. Her research into the early career experiences of female composers in Australia was supervised by Dr. Brydie-Leigh Bartleet. She is currently completing a PhD in Music at The University of Melbourne, supervised by Dr. Elliott Gyger and Dr. Katy Abbott.
Brisbane born and bred clarinetist Paul Dean is regarded as one of Australia's foremost musicians in his multiple capacities as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, composer and artistic director. He currently holds the position of Head of Winds at Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. Paul was the Artistic Director of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) from 2010 - 2015 and is a Principal Clarinet with the Australian World Orchestra. He is a founding member of the Endeavour Trio and is Co-Artistic Director of Ensemble Q with cellist Trish O'Brien. Paul was the Artistic Director of the Four Winds Festival and the Tutti Beijing International Youth Music Festival and was also the founder of the Southern Cross Soloists, the Bangalow Music Festival, the Coramba Chamber Music Festival and the Sunwater and Stanwell Winter Music School. Paul has composed music for the violinists Jack Liebeck and Anthony Marwood, cellists Torleif Thedeen, Trish O'Brien and Patrick Murphy, tenor Andrew Goodwin and pianist Daniel De Borah, harpist Marshall McGuire, the Brodsky and Flinders Quartets, Katie Noonan, the Melbourne Piano Trio, the Seraphim Trio, the Endeavour Trio and the Australian Flute Festival. Paul was appointed Composer in Residence for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's 2019 season. His clarinet concerto was premiered by the MSO with the composer as soloist and Michael Collins conducting. His violin concerto, "A Brief History" was dedicated to Stephen Hawking and was premiered in the MSO's "Symphonic Universe" performances with presenter Brian Cox and violinist Jack Liebeck. Future major commissions include a concerto for French Horn, for Andrew Bain (principal horn, Los Angeles Philharmonic) and commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival (Colorado) and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. His Symphony commissioned by and written for the Australian World Orchestra will premiere in Canberra on June 2, 2021.