By Joseph E. Morgan
May 27, 2017
This Saturday at the beautiful Ascend Amphitheater along the bank of the Cumberland River, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra is presenting a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular,” featuring four of the composer’s most famous compositions performed under the stars.
The evening opens with the ballet, Swan Lake (1876) which tells the tale of a princess turned into a swan by a malevolent sorcerer. Dancers from the Nashville Ballet will be joining the Symphony onstage for this famous, perhaps the most famous, fairytale ballet. The Symphony will also perform the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Unlike the ballet, which is meant to accompany and enrich the performance of the dancers onstage, the Fantasy Overture reduces Shakespeare’s tragedy into a brief but powerful 20 minute sonata movement. The form consists of a fierce primary theme setting the warring Capulets and Montagues which is positioned against a delicate secondary theme that depicts the young lovers (in the horns, Romeo, and the flutes, Juliet). Although the violent primary theme will crush that of the lovers, look for the transcendent ending in which the lovers are reunited in the afterlife—a romantic trope in which love transcends even death.
For the concerto, South Korean virtuosa Joyce Yang returns to Nashville to perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, an epic essay on Romanticism and the piano. From its lugubrious opening theme to its pyrotechnical passage work and its acrobatic final cadenza, watching Yang, an international star at the height of her skills, bring this piece alive will be some “tall cotton” for the Nashville audience. Finally, the concert will close with Tchaikovsky’s great festival overture in honor of the defeat of Napoleon and his invasion of Russia in 1812. A fairly literal depiction of the failed invasion, the work premiered at an outdoor event in 1882 and indeed it is best heard outside. With its climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare, the 1812 Overture has become a common accompaniment for fireworks in the United States, and will be the perfect finale for a concert that promises to begin Nashville’s 2017 summer with a bang.
The Nashville Symphony is offering great deals on all seats for this concert, use the code “SPRING” when purchasing your tickets. See https://www.nashvillesymphony.org for details.