Some excerpts of programme
notes written by Howard Smith.
"What a pity Mozart was not French. He
would have been really worth imitating"
"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
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".
"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
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.
In the same year Howard wrote extensively
in a forty page booklet for the International Chamber Music Festival in
Auckland and Napier, New Zealand.