Dean: ...the scene of the crime...

Program Note

Brett Dean (b.1961)
...the scene of the crime... (2017)


The piece was written at the end of a five-year fascination of mine with Shakespeare's Hamlet although it's not being specifically linked to my Hamlet opera either thematically or motivically. However the sheer size of that subject matter, combined with the fact that the duo was premiered at Håkan Hardenberger‘s festival in Malmö—just "a stone's throw" across the Øresund Strait from "Elsinore"—made it seem fitting to suggest one last Hamlet reference before moving on to other projects. The title also reflects the somewhat "noir" aspects of the piece's quieter, more mysterious sections.

—Brett Dean

Brett Dean, composer/violist (London, England and Melbourne, Australia), combines his composing activities with a rich musical life performing internationally as viola soloist, chamber musician, and conductor with the world’s leading orchestras. He was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years, before returning to Australia to concentrate on his growing compositional activities. Today his works are championed by conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz, and Daniel Harding, and he has received commissions from the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among other leading orchestras. In 2009, he won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing. In June 2017, his second opera, Hamlet, was premiered at Glyndebourne Festival Opera to great acclaim, directed by Neil Armfield with libretto by Matthew Jocelyn and conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. His first full-length opera, Bliss, received a highly-acclaimed production by Opera Australia in Sydney, Melbourne, and at the Edinburgh Festival, and in a new production at the Hamburg Opera. His String Quintet Epitaphs has been performed at the Cheltenham Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, and the Cologne Philharmonie. Brett was Creative Chair at Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Artist in Residence with Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2016-18), and has been in residence with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin since 2017. Brett’s music has been recorded for BIS, Chandos, Warner Classics, ECM Records and ABC Classics. Brett’s Viola Concerto has also been released on BIS with the Sydney Symphony, with Brett as soloist. A DVD of Hamlet has been released by Glyndebourne. Previous Yellow Barn Composer-in-Residence (2012)