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Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Friday, February 21, 2020 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Sir John Eliot Gardiner by Chris Christodoulou
The opening motif of the Symphony No. 5 is certainly one of the most famous in all of music. It is a dramatic curtain-raiser for an intense symphony that storms with unbridled power, ultimately lifting the listener to one of the most triumphant finales ever composed. While Symphony No. 4 sits in the chronology between two titanic symphonies, the lighter orchestration and gentler tone put it closer to works by Haydn and Mozart. Its propulsive third movement, however, puts it firmly in the Beethoven canon.

Part of: Sir John Eliot Gardiner Perspectives and Beethoven Celebration

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Partner events on February 7 and February 27 explore the instruments featured in this concert.

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is also performing February 19, February 20, February 23, and February 24.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is also performing February 18, February 19, February 20, February 23, and February 24.


Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Artistic Director and Conductor



Symphony No. 4

Symphony No. 5

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner: 2019–2020 Perspectives Artist

Lead support for the Beethoven Celebration is provided by The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund.

National Endowment for the Arts: arts.gov

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.

At a Glance

This concert is a study in contrast. Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony is one of his most refined and symmetrical, free from the angst and turmoil in his next symphony. Especially notable are the exquisite musical joke at the beginning, the elegant slow movement, and the buzzing finale. The Fifth, on the other hand, is a fiercely revolutionary work that, like the “Eroica,” has changed the way we think about music. Thousands of people have been moved by the representation of “Fate knocking at the door” and by the “program” of Beethoven’s defiant struggle against deafness, despair, and fantasies of suicide. It is remarkable how much excitement and sense of occasion the Fifth still evokes in a go-for-broke performance. Like a Bach fugue or a Schubert song, it communicates something basic and fundamental, a sense that Western music would not have been the same without it. Paradoxically, it is most famous for its economy achieved by Beethoven’s technique of having the opening four notes generate both the first movement and significant chunks of the succeeding ones. Equally stark and unadorned is the work’s single-minded emphasis on rhythm. Indeed, the relentless pulse on the Fifth launched a revolution in rhythm, one carried forward in the Seventh, presented in the next concert in this series.


Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is revered as one of the world’s most innovative and dynamic musicians, and as a leader in the contemporary musical world. His work—as founder and ...

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is revered as one of the world’s most innovative and dynamic musicians, and as a leader in the contemporary musical world. His work—as founder and artistic director of the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique—has made him a key figure of the early-music revival and historically informed performance practice.

Mr. Gardiner is a regular guest of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducting repertoire from the 16th to the 20th centuries. He has also conducted productions at the Vienna State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. From 1983 to 1988, he was artistic director of the Opéra National de Lyon, where he founded its new orchestra.

Mr. Gardiner’s broad repertoire is illustrated by his extensive catalog of award-winning recordings on both major labels and his own Soli Deo Gloria with the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, as well as other leading orchestras. He holds two Grammy Awards and has received more Gramophone Classical Music Awards than any other living artist.

Recent achievements with the ensembles include the award-winning Monteverdi 450 tour; a reprise of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, which toured to some of Europe’s most famous concert halls and churches; a five-year exploration of Berlioz’s major works to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death; and a landmark performance of Verdi’s Requiem at Westminster Cathedral to aid Cancer Research UK. In 2019, Mr. Gardiner conducted new productions of Handel’s Semele and Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini, and made debut performances in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Russia.

An authority on the music of J. S. Bach, Mr. Gardiner’s book Music in the Castle of Heaven was published in October 2013 by Allen Lane, earning the France Musique des Muses Prize. Among numerous awards in recognition of his work, Mr. Gardiner holds several honorary doctorates; he was elevated to knighthood for his services to music in the 1998 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

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Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Founded in 1989 by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR) strives to provide bold new perspectives on the music of the 19th and early 20th ...
Founded in 1989 by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR) strives to provide bold new perspectives on the music of the 19th and early 20th centuries through its stylistic fidelity and intensity of expression.

Since its inception, the ORR has won plaudits for its interpretations of works by major early Romantic composers—from Beethoven to Berlioz—as well as later composers who include Verdi and Debussy. Major projects have included Beethoven symphony cycles, Schumann Revealed, and Brahms: Root and Memories, for each of which the ensemble recorded the complete symphonies of the composers. In addition, the ORR has performed such operas as Weber’s Oberon andDer Freischütz, Bizet’s Carmen, Chabrier’s L’étoile, Verdi’s Falstaff, and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande in new productions in France, Italy, and London, and it gave the first complete staged performances in Paris of Berlioz’s Les Troyens.

In 2015, ORR returned to the music of Berlioz for a five-year exploration of the composer’s large-scale works, performing Roméo et Juliette, La damnation de Faust, Symphonie fantastique, Harold en Italie, and Lélio across Europe and the US. The project featured five consecutive appearances at the Proms, a highlight of which was performing excerpts of Les Troyens alongside mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. The celebrations culminated in 2019, marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death with the first contemporary performances of his opera Benvenuto Cellini on period instruments. The orchestra was joined by The Monteverdi Choir and a cast of international soloists for a series of critically acclaimed staged concerts of the opera at the Proms, Berliner Festspiele, Festival Berlioz, and Château de Versailles.

The 2019–2020 season marks 30 years since the founding of ORR, as well as the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. In celebration of these milestones, the orchestra embarks on another momentous project, performing a cycle of all nine of the composer’s symphonies in residencies across Europe and the US. The celebrations continue in September as the orchestra reunites with The Monteverdi Choir to perform Beethoven’s Missa solemnis at several of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals.

The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is one of the three ensembles, together with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, constituting the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras. Please visit monteverdi.co.uk for more information.
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