The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is performing two classics of the symphonic repertoire in Chicago - Brahms's Symphony No. 4 and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben. The Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad praised as 'grand and compelling' the RCO's November 2017 performance of Brahms's Symphony No. 1. Needless to say, expectations are high for the Fourth, which according to some is Brahms's magnum opus.
Ein Heldenleben is a special case. Over 100 years ago, Strauss dedicated the work 'to Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra'. In this work more than in any other, the composer proved he was a pioneer, writing a virtuoso part for nearly every group of instruments in the orchestra. Like many masterpieces, however, this overwhelming, turbulent composition initially resulted in resistance and misunderstanding. Now it is on every concert-goer's bucket list.