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NZSO’s big summer tour brings great music to nine centres in February

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra celebrates summer with performances of four uplifting and unforgettable classical works for its biggest tour in 2019.

Classical Journey, in association with Ryman Healthcare, will be performed in nine centres from Kerikeri to Blenheim in February.

Led by NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, Classical Journey features works by orchestral greats Rossini, Haydn, Prokofiev, and Brahms, written during or inspired by the classical period, 1730-1820

"I’m excited to tour this programme around the country with the Orchestra. 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," says McKeich.

Classical Journey opens 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 works which follow from Haydn, Prokofiev and Brahms. "Haydn is the father of the symphony and his Symphony No. 104 London, the last symphony he wrote, has influenced many composers. He’s inventive and he moves from one interesting idea to the next. He was always taking risks. It’s witty and wonderful music." Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 Classical Symphony, which premiered in 1918, is one of his most popular works. Prokofiev wrote it the style of Haydn more than 120 years after the London symphony. "Prokofiev’s First Symphony is brilliant and equally inventive. While inspired by Haydn, it’s distinctly Prokofiev and full of beautiful lyrical melodies."

Classical Journey closes with Brahms’ moving Variations on a Theme by Haydn. The composer based his eight variations and a captivating finale on what at the time was believed to be a chorale theme attributed to Haydn. While modern scholars now believe Haydn wasn’t the original composer, 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 based on that one theme. It’s a stunning composition," says McKeich.

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