Former chief conductor Mariss Jansons is back to lead the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in an intriguing programme all about heroes and anti-heroes. Beethoven’s revolutionary ‘Eroica’ is preceded by Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, in which the great cellist Truls Mørk appears as soloist alongside Ken Hakii, the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s own principal violist.
Conductor emeritus Mariss Jansons conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (‘Eroica’), one of few works which are as revolutionary as they are popular. The composer initially dedicated the symphony to his hero Napoleon, but when it turned out that rather than being a hero of the people, Napoleon was simply power-hungry, Beethoven tore the title page of the score, which bore the dedication, in two. Yet the music remained as compelling as ever. Never before had there been a symphony so full of contrasts, conflicts and drama.
Hero or anti-hero? Cervantes’s famed novel The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha has never been set to music as compellingly as it was by Richard Strauss. Just as the book features two flawed heroes, Strauss’s music showcases two soloists vying side by side. The exalted sounds of Truls Mørk’s cello represent the knightly fool Don Quixote; his squire Sancho Panza is given voice by Ken Hakii, the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s own principal violist, who is supported by his colleagues on tuba and bass clarinet.