Beethoven's Eroica

Saturday, October 6, 2018 - 7:30 p.m.
Jim Rouse Theatre

Robert Cantrell


Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
Johannes Brahms - Academic Festival Overture
Witold Lutosławski - Les Espaces du Sommeil (The Spaces of Sleep)

About the Concert

Inspired by the revolutionary events taking place around him, Beethoven started a musical revolution of his own in the heroic work that kicks off our season. On receiving an honorary doctorate, Brahms penned one of his most ebullient works, including nods to student songs of the day. Audience favorite Robert Cantrell returns for the rich, sonorous colors of Lutosławski’s beguiling nightscape.

From Jason

"I originally paired the Eroica with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring on a concert called 'The Two Revolutions.' Partly because of scheduling reasons, they now separately bookend my 20th anniversary season, and in some ways I like that even better. Both are definitely 'Desert Island' pieces for me.

"It's hard to put into words how much each piece changed the course of music history... The Eroica is so unbelievable: every time I return to it I find things I hadn't discovered before. I always love balancing Beethoven with Brahms, and this pairing felt particularly right. The Beethoven has that bold, heroic first movement and its tragic funeral march in the second... The youthful joy of Brahms' overture is the perfect foil.

"Lutosławski is one of my very favorite composers, and yet this is the first time he's been featured in one of our programs. So many of his pieces are absolute masterpieces, but they can be difficult to absorb on first hearing. This work though, partly because of the text and partly because it has such a beautiful narrative shape, is hugely satisfying on the first encounter. And I can't think of anyone I'd want to perform it with more than Robert.

"When I was maybe 10 years old, the North Carolina Symphony came to my hometown and played Lutosławski's Concerto for Orchestra, an earlier work much in the vein of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. It blew me away. I'd never imagined there could be music like that. I'm still grateful to their conductor at the time, Gerhardt Zimmerman. He could have brought highlights from Carmen or some other really familiar pieces to play for the audience in my town who knew little classical music. But here was Lutosławski. That concert was a big part of my becoming a musician. I would love for some kid in the audience to have that experience, no matter which piece lights the fire."

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