One of Australia’s most successful and acclaimed composers, Brett
Dean’s body of work spans 30 years and has been championed by the
greatest conductors and ensembles in the world, including the Berlin
Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the MSO. His most recent opera,Hamlet, premiered at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2017 and will be staged in 2021 by The Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Dean’s concerto is an attempt to enter the state of the mind of
Beethoven, as he confronted some profound familial conflicts and failing
health towards the end of his life. The “Gneixendorf” in the work’s
title refers to a small Austrian village where Dean spent time in the
summer of 2013 and unexpectedly stumbled on a relatively unknown episode
of Beethoven’s life.
Though it was subsequently dubbed the Emperor concerto, in
reference to then Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, it’s not a title Beethoven
ever used himself. The uplifting Piano Concerto No.5 was composed while
Beethoven was surrounded by destruction and despair. With his hearing
fast diminishing and the Napoleonic Wars raging across Europe, including
in his home city of Vienna, it’s remarkable Beethoven could create
something so inspiring when surrounded by such misery.
Brahms’ Fourth Symphony is the perfect companion piece to these
piano works from either end of history, as the composer first wrote it
in a setting for two pianos. The initial feedback from his friends
spurred him on, and the resulting symphony – his final – has become one
of his most popular works.
St Petersburg-born conductor Stanislav Kochanovsky returns to the MSO, after his triumphant turn conducting Prokofiev’sRomeo and Juliet suite in 2019.