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Brahms and Tchaikovsky • Nashua

  • Keefe Center for the Arts 117 Elm Street Nashua, NH, 03060 United States (map)

March 4 • Brahms and Tchaikovsky • Nashua

Brahms and Tchaikovsky

March 4th, 2017 | 8:00 pm | Keefe Center for the Arts (Parking and Directions)

Jonathan McPhee, conductor
Sergey Antonov, cello

THEOFANIDIS Dreamtime Ancestors (New Hampshire Premiere)
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3

Theofanidis’ Dreamtime Ancestors references the Australian aboriginal creation myth that explores the idea of us all being connected through our “dreamtime ancestors” in the past, present, and future.  This idea is referred to as “all-at-once time”, but the connection across times is nothing new.  Tchaikovsky, in his Variations on a Rococo Theme, composed an original theme in the ornate, late-Baroque Rococo style, and then wrote timeless variations that test the limits of soloists today with elegant beauty presented in a virtuoso style.  Even Brahms in his third symphony wrote a musical motto for “Free but Happy,” in reference to his younger years.  The past, present, and future intersect through music.

Ticket Prices
Orchestra 1
Orchestra 2
Orchestra 3
Balcony 1
Balcony 2

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Student Night

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Student night at Symphony NH. $10 Student Tickets are now Buy One Get One Free! Use code STU317 with your student email at checkout to redeem.

After the concert join us at Uno's Pizzaria and Grill on Amherst Street for special discounts. We'll send you the details in a preconert email.

Listen to the Works

Program Notes

Dreamtime Ancestors, 2015

Christopher Theofanidis (1967-)

The Symphony NH performance of Dreamtime Ancestors by Christopher Theofanidis is part of a program sponsored by New Music for America whose mission is to bring world premieres of newly created pieces to all 50 states. This piece was first performed in September 2015 by the Plymouth (MA) Philharmonic Orchestra, and is dedicated to the late composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014).

The Australian Aboriginal culture is the inspiration for Dreamtime Ancestors. “Dreaming” is the manifestation of the totality of these cultural ideas. Included are creation stories, continuity, and connection with nature, both animate and inanimate. As explained by the Institute for Aboriginal Development, the framework has three parts: the Human World which includes family, other people, and behaviors; the Physical World which encompasses the sky, the land, and animals; and the Sacred World of stories, laws and punishment, and care and healing. The past, present, and future coexist in this Dreaming.

Robert Hoffman

Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33, 1876

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Tchaikovsky composed this work in 1876 based on an original theme inspired by the musical style of the late 18th century and characterized by graceful elegance and ornamentation. He wrote this piece for and with the help of the cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, a colleague at the Moscow Conservatory. This work is the closest Tchaikovsky ever came to writing a concerto for cello and shows his admiration for the classical model.

Following an elegant orchestral prelude, the solo cello introduces the theme. The variations that follow all clearly refer to this theme but feature changes in rhythm, speed, and key. Several of the later variations are in the minor key and virtuosic playing is demanded of the soloist. The piece concludes with an up-tempo variation that allows the orchestra to show its own virtuosity. In this set of variations, Tchaikovsky evokes the spirit of Mozart while staying true to his own musical language of late 19th-century Russian music.

Robert Oot

Symphony No. 3, op. 90 in F major, 1883

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Johannes Brahms was always mindful in his music to acknowledge his predecessors, whether by incorporating direct quotes as in the First Symphony, or emulating rhythmic gestures and personally meaningful musical motifs as in the Third Symphony. With all that, those who would castigate Brahms as a musical relic in contrast with Wagner’s self-proclaimed “music of the future” would be somewhat misguided. Brahms was certainly a musical innovator in his own special way, as evidenced in this symphony and other works by rhythmic variety, shifting keys, and the rich development of very short motifs.

The Third Symphony opens with a bright F major chord, but immediately shifts harmonically with the second chord and flirts with F minor in the exposition of the first theme. The notes that begin the symphony--F-A-F--are an acronym for “Frei aber froh” (Free but happy), Brahms’ response to the F-A-E (“Frei aber einsam,” Free but lonely) motto of the great violinist Joseph Joachim who had premiered Brahms’ Violin Concerto.

The second movement, in C major, brings a calming effect with a deceptively simple melodic character. Far from a typical symphonic scherzo, the third movement is a hauntingly beautiful allegretto first stated by the cellos and later by the French horn. The fourth and final movement brings the tonality full circle, as it starts in F minor and finishes quietly in F major. The movement begins sotto voce (literally under the voice) with a whispering melody. The second theme has loudly punctuated chords that contrast with the occasional interjection of a quiet restatement of the first theme. A gentle hint of the first movement theme brings the piece to its quiet close.

Robert Hoffman


Brahms and Tchaikovsky is sponsored by

Programs are subject to change. Tickets are nonrefundable. Group rates are available. Children age 5+ are welcome. Youth aged 5-15 are admitted free with an adult paying regular price, but all children must have a ticketed seat. Free youth tickets must be reserved by calling our box office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exchanges can be made up to 24 hours before the originally scheduled concert date for a fee of $5. Handling fees are waived for subscribers. Online ticket sales are available until 4 p.m. on the day of the concert. The box office at the concert venue opens two hours before the concert.