Some excerpts of programme notes written by Howard Smith.


 

"What a pity Mozart was not French. He would have been really worth imitating"
Claude Debussy.

"By 1876, the year 'The Marriage of Figaro' was completed, America's War of Independence was over, and the French Revolution three years away. Librettist Lorenzo da Ponte had adapted Beaumarchais' story of aristocratic decadence and Mozart gave it irrepressible musical form. The result was energetic, entertaining, flawlessly crafted and psychologically persuasive. In Mozart's time this opera was judged highly persuasive. Yet its story of interpersonal relationships was timely then - as it is now".

Concert arias; soloist Kiri te Kanawa
With the NZSO, conductor Stephen Barlow -1996


 

"Arnold Schoenberg began his Gurrelieder in 1900, as a new century dawned. Already he was irrefutably the composer who best exemplifed a central principle that characterised the 20th Century from the start. While Stravinsky soldiered on in Russian balletic and neo-classical idioms, this self-taught son of a Jewish shoeshop owner brought about epoch-making change. And "transformational change" more than anything else, coloured the century.

...... With his use of a massive orchestra Schoenberg quite overshadows Berlioz and Mahler. He requires a wind section including eight flutes, seven clarinets and ten horns. One commentator remarked ..... orchestral aggrandisement was leading to a dead end; change was inevitable".

Notes for Gurrelieder with the NZSO, Berlin Rundfunkchor, conductor Diego Masson - 1998


 

"Elgar might have been a great composer if he had thrown all that religious paraphenalia overboard. Gerontius is a nauseating work".
Frederick Delius.

"The Violin Sonata was begun in mid-August 1918 and finished by September 5. Elgar reported that W.H.(Billy) Reed, leader of the LSO had stayed at Brinkwells as the music took shape. "While I was there he finished the first movement and the opening section of the finale". Reed noted. "We used to play up to the blank page. Then he would say - "And now what ?" - and we would go out to explore the wood or fish in the River Arun".

Notes for Elgar's Violin Sonata in E Minor, Op. 82 John Georgiadis (violin), Antony Peebles (piano) - 1999.



 

1998 was a special year for Hamilton (New Zealand) Chamber Music, it represented the golden anniversary of the by now internationaly acclaimed annual concert series. Howard was asked to write all the programme notes.

 

 

Vladimir Ashkenazy

In 1999 Howard Smith was asked to write the 2000 programme notes for the Philharmonia Orchestra of London with conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy for their Millennium Tour visit to New Zealand.

 

Music Festival

In the same year Howard wrote extensively in a forty page booklet for the International Chamber Music Festival in Auckland and Napier, New Zealand.