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Rossini Overture to L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian in Algiers)
Haydn Symphony No. 104 in D major, Hob. 1/104 London
Prokofiev Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25 Classical Symphony
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a

Under the guidance of NZSO Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich, the concert opens with Rossini’s overture to his opera The Italian Girl in Algiers. Written in 1813 when Rossini was just 21, the full work was a form of opera known as “dramma giocoso”, literally a “drama with jokes”.

Haydn’s London Symphony was his last and one of his most popular. According to a review at the time “the fullness, richness, and majesty, in all its parts, is thought by some to surpass all his other compositions.”

Sergei Prokofiev named his first symphony Classical and wrote it “in the style of Haydn”. Though his dissonant early compositions caused scandals, this symphony, which premiered in 1918, proved Prokofiev could also write beautiful lyrical melodies.

Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn is often referred to as The Saint Anthony Variations, as the original Saint Anthony Chorale theme was used in a divertimento attributed to Haydn. It is highly likely that Haydn did not compose the theme, which in Brahms' work, is followed by eight variations and a majestic finale.