Hawke's Bay Today
Classical Journey stops over
Orchestra show will be a classic, writes Peter Williams
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s big summer tour brings great music to Napier with a concert in the Napier Municipal Theatre at 7.30pm on Friday, February 22, as the orchestra celebrates summer with performances of four uplifting and unforgettable classical works for its biggest tour in 2019. Led by NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, Classical Journey , in association with Ryman Healthcare, features works by orchestral greats — Rossini, Haydn, Prokofiev and Brahms — music written during, or inspired by, the classical period, 1730-1820. “I’m excited to tour this programme around the country with the NZSO,” says McKeich. “This is bright and cheerful music for summer which will appeal to both regular concert-goers and those hungry to experience the NZSO for the first time. They won’t go away disappointed.” Classical Journey will open with Italian composer Rossini’s intoxicating overture to his opera L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers), which McKeich says is the perfect complement to the Haydn, Prokofiev and Brahms works which follow. “Haydn is widely regarded as the father of the symphony, and his Symphony No 104 London, the last symphony he composed, has influenced many later composers. He’s always inventive as he moves from one interesting idea to the next, always taking risks in this witty and wonderful music.” This symphony is the last of the so-called 12 Salomon Symphonies, named after the impresario Johann Peter Salomon who twice invited Haydn from Vienna to London where the symphonies were composed — hence the nickname London. Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, which premiered in 1918, is one of Prokofiev’s most popular works, written in the style of Haydn more than 120 years after the London Symphony. It is brilliant and equally inventive. While inspired by Haydn, it’s distinctly Prokofiev in character, full of beautiful, lyrical melodies. Classical Journey will close with
Brahms’ moving Variations on a
Theme by Haydn. While modern scholars now believe Haydn wasn’t the original composer of the theme, it has become one of Brahms’ most admired works. “Brahms doesn’t copy Haydn so much as turn it into a Brahms piece. Each variation has its own character, and all are based on that one theme. “It’s a stunning composition,” says McKeich.