Chineke! Orchestra: Symphonic Celebration

Thursday 28th April

Tchaikovsky considered his turbulent Symphony No.4 to be his best work – hear it alongside a jazz reimagining of what might be his most famous composition.


In a key cross-over moment in music, African American jazz icons Duke Ellington and arranger Billy Strayhorn paid homage to Tchaikovsky with their sultry and syncopated reimagining of the Nutcracker Suite.

The studio album was released in 1960. In recent years, the nine-movement work has been revived on the orchestral scene with the publication of the score in 2010.

The backbone of the orchestra is brought to the fore in Andrzej Panufnik’s five-movement Concertino for timpani, percussion and strings.

The solo moments, accompanied by strings, draw out the expressive power and ‘singing’ quality of the timpani and percussion through their precision, rhythm and resonance.

Composed between 1877 and 1878, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4 was dedicated to Nadezhda von Meck, the composer’s eccentric patron, who made it a condition of her support that Tchaikovsky and she should never meet, and they never did.

Emulating Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the symphony explores the theme of Fate, ‘…the power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness.’

In his letters to von Meck, he explains how he transcribed the experiences of his own turbulent life into musical form, illustrating where the motifs of despair and weight of reality give way to interludes of joy.

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