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Pianist Stephen Hough once called Brahms’ First Piano Concerto a “big, human uttering.” That sounds like a description of essentially any speech by Fidel Castro, but Hough had a point. This is a piece, after all, that kicks off with a rousing kettle-drum riff and just proceeds to get louder and more intense. Until the slow second movement, that is; here, young composer Brahms falls on his face a bit, failing to craft a truly memorable melody–take some time here to read the Brahms biography in your concert program. The composer’s rousing ways return for the third movement, a blast of showy, Romantic-era symphonying. It’s just the sort of composition that the National Symphony Orchestra, with pianist and Brahms pro Nelson Freire on the ivories, can use to shake that oversize Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The program also features pieces by Tchaikovsky and Martinu.

THE PERFORMANCE BEGINS AT 1:30 P.M. AT THE KENNEDY CENTER, 2700 F ST. NW. $45–$85. (202) 467-4600.