This preview was provided by Brevard Philharmonic.

Two guest artists from China join the Brevard Philharmonic for a concert highlighting two great works by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Nov. 10.

“A Tchaikovsky Afternoon” will be led by guest conductor Zhonghui Dai, Chief Conductor of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and Guest Conductor of the Tianjin Symphony Orchestra. It will feature Variations on a Rococo Theme, op. 33, the Symphony No. 4, op. 36 in F minor and open with Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture.

“As a composer Tchaikovsky is one of my favorites,” said Dai. “I do love very much his beautiful and passionate melody also the energy inside of his music. Rococo Variations for cello is an amazing piece musically and technically for the instrument.”

The soloist for the Variations will be Jiapeng Nie. He and the conductor met when the cellist was a student in China but this will be the first time the two have performed together.

Zhonghui Dai is Professor of Trumpet at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and has performed at the National Performing Arts Grand Theatre concert hall, Beijing Concert Hall, Forbidden City Concert Hall, Peking University and most major venues in China. He has conducted and given master classes in the United States, France, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. He studied at the International University in San Diego and the School of Music at the University of Southern California and was awarded a fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, where he studied and collaborated with Seiji Ozawa and Simon Rattle. The conductor comes to North Carolina at the invitation of Philharmonic music director Donald Portnoy who last year led master classes at the Central Conservatory.

Jiapeng Nie studied in his native China, at the Morningside Music Bridge international music exchange in Calgary, Canada, the Höchschüle für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany and the International Great Mountains Music Festival & School in South Korea. He has performed with orchestras throughout the world and lives in Germany. He recently performed with the acclaimed pianist Bruno Canino at the Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy, with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and did several concerts with a piano trio in Beijing.

Variations on a Rococo Theme is the closest Tchaikovsky ever came to creating a concerto for cello.  The 1876 work is connected to the composer’s love of Mozart, but with 19th-century Russian sensibilities. The work consists of a main statement of the theme followed by seven variations with progressive expansion and evolution of the theme’s structure. The piece makes equal demands on the cello for rapid, virtuosic passages and singing, tender phrases, and masterfully balances the interplay between cello and accompaniment.

Rococo Variations is one of my favorite cello works,” said Jiapeng Nie. “It’s just simply beautiful – romantic and easy to understand.”

The Symphony No. 4, op. 36 in F minor centers on a recurring “Fate” motive which recalls the opening theme of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The complex first movement opens with the motive, a fanfare sounded first by the horns and bassoons and then by the trumpets, and the movement continues to develop new themes and modify the motive.

The second movement is melancholy with an initially subdued second theme rising from the clarinet and bassoon. The playful third movement has a colorful wind trio with frenzied piccolo outbursts.

The “Fate” motive returns in the final movement which includes a theme based on a Russian  folk song which escalates and turns into the fanfare. Tchaikovsky chooses to overcome “Fate” and the music triumphs over oppression as the symphony wraps up in a cacophonous close.

The concert opens with the Johannes Brahms’ overture which he created as a musical “Thank You” to the University of Breslau for awarding him an honorary doctorate. Known for his sense of humor, Brahms based the piece on student drinking songs.

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