Ever since I was little I have adored this ballet. I know it may sound strange for a little girl to be familiar with ballets and huge orchestral excerpts at the age of five or six, but I was. I loved swan lake, sleeping beauty, and of course the Nutcracker and of course the music that came with it all.
After a somewhat chilling string tremelo in the first few bars of the theme, the oboe plays the main theme that we are all familiar with for eight bars. The theme is then developed upon in what could be considered the B section with harp arpeggiation in the background, then goes right back to the A theme. The low brass and horns come in with a strong and stately brass choir repetition of the A and B themes. Its then the job of the strings to sweep through the themes A and B and be the first to really bring in the C theme and there is a rallentando into a full orchestral refrain of the A theme with intense forte dynamics and huge accents.
The gentle feeling of the A theme is built upon and developed throughout this part of the ballet until the intensity is extreme.
The intensity even begins as the oboe finishes playing the theme for the first time and hands it to the low brass and horn choir.
My favorite moment of this theme is really not even the oboe presenting that famous musical line, but the intensity and tension that builds throughout the piece with the low brass, timpani, and horns, and then dies away to nothing almost as quickly as it was introduced initially.