With the new year comes fresh and exciting opportunities to experience the wonderful options for classical music lovers in Houston,Texas.
One of the most prominent and long-awaited performances of the spring is on April 13th-15th, when conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and pianist Jon Kimura Parker combine forces for a magnificent series of old school and new school sounds, as they tackle Beethoven, Schumann and Stravinsky in the Houston Symphony’s Petrouchka & Beethoven.
Quickly gaining a reputation of intensity and natural connection with the musicians he conducts, the young Heras-Casado will be taking on the daunting task of leading the symphony in Schumann’s Overture to Manfred, Beethoven’s classic Piano Concerto No. 1 and Stravinsky’s Petrouchka.
This performance will begin with Robert Schumann’s Overture to Manfred, which is based on the poem, Manfred, by Lord Byron. This classic piece evokes deep emotion during a trying time for the composer, who was supposedly suffering from voices in his head during the writing. The raw emotion is fully on display as you are thrown into a frantic yet constrained piece that provides beautiful strings to tell the story of urgent despair which Lord Byron made so famous. Somber moments tear open into wild routs, making this an emotional behemoth that leaves an indelible impression to all those who listen.
Following Schumann is the well known Piano Concerto No. 1 by the venerable Ludwig Van Beethoven. A glorious and up-beat piece, Concerto No. 1 was written for Beethoven’s student, Countess Keglevics. Beethoven, being a commoner in the society of his time, was known to write many of his early works based off of the emotion and love he felt for the beautiful, yet untouchable, aristocratic students that he tutored. This piece also has the distinction of being played during his first solo featured Viennese performance in April 1800.
The night will end on a much different note than where it began, with the playing of the 20th Century musical genius, Igor Stravinsky’s, Petrouchka. Written as a ballet, Stravinsky originally composed Petrouchka in 1910, but then revised it in 1947, leading to what is now the definitive version of this timeless piece. Petrouchka is a story of a Russian puppet who comes to life and develops emotions. According to many, Petrouchka is a work that fuses music, ballet, choreography and history in perfect balance. With his frantic, tonal and layered compositions, Stravinsky has a second to none ability to tell a story through music, allowing his works to invoke a unique sense of emotion and character that very few before him have been able to accomplish.
With Petrouchka and Beethoven, particularly for those new to classical music, you will have the opportunity to listen to three very different composers bringing some of their best works forward in a stunning and impressive manner. The virtuoso difficulty of Beethovens piano concerto added to the deep, introspective emotion of Schumann, along with the complex, rhythmic energy of neoclassical trailblazer Stravinsky will surely give any person a wonderful introduction to the variety that comes with transcendent classical music.
The performances are slated for April 13th through the 15th. The Friday and Saturday shows will begin at 8 pm, and the Sunday performance will start at 2:30 pm. All three concerts will be located at Jones Hall in downtown Houston, Texas.