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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

HBSO announces concert of Mozart and Beethoven

By Bradley Winterton

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HCMC – The HBSO has announced an evening of Mozart and Beethoven on April 9 in the Saigon Opera House.

The HBSO symphony orchestra will be conducted by Meritorious Artist Tran Voung Thach, the organization’s music director.

The concert will begin with the overture to Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni.

History tells us Mozart composed this overture on the night before the premier. Orchestral parts then had to be copied out with the result that the instrumentalists had to sight-read the music on the opening night.

It’s a masterpiece nonetheless. The opera is both tragic – Giovanni is a serial seducer who kills the father of his latest conquest in the first five minutes and is dragged down to hell at the end – but also comic. These two elements are both present in the music.

The male and female principles can also be perceived, the  male in the forceful strings, the female in the woodwind. The music leads straight into the first scene when the Don fights a duel with Donna Anna’s father and kills him.

Next comes Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, a concerto for two soloists, a violinist and a viola-player.

HBSO is delighted to welcome two very distinguished soloists for this performance, violinist Bui Cong Duy and viola player Pham Vu Thien Bao.

Bui Cong Duy has been playing the violin all his life, has won numerous international awards, and today gives master classes in Hanoi to advanced students.

Pham Vu Thien Bao also began as a violinist but changed to the viola. He has lived in France for many years and performed all over Europe.

Mozart wrote this piece in 1779 at the age of 23. He had been thinking about combining the characteristics of the symphony and the concerto and this was the result.

It is one of his most popular works and has been recorded over 40 times.

Beethoven’s First Symphony occupies the second part of the program.

Beethoven delayed writing his first symphony as well as his first string quartet. This may have been because they were the two musical forms with which his teacher and mentor, Joseph Haydn, had made his name.

The work is both traditional and radical. To the untrained ear it will sound like Haydn or Mozart, but the specialist will detect many novelties. One is the third movement. Usually this was a dance, a minuet and trio, but Beethoven instructed it to be played very fast so that it almost sounds like a scherzo. Scherzo in Italian means “joke”.

The famous English music critic Donald Tovey called  this work a musical comedy of manners. A comedy of manners in literature is something that satirizes common social conduct. What Tovey meant, then, was that Beethoven was simultaneously using and mocking the musical norms of 1800, the year of this work’s debut.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from VND400,000 to VND750,000.

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