“All you need is love.” So is the sentiment of one of the most enduring pieces crafted by the legendary Beatles.
Even more enduring is the power of love upon the human imagination. Indeed, as part of the whirlwind of the 19th century, love was of paramount importance, the chief emotion expressed in sound during the Romantic period.
The famed composer Mozart prophesied the coming era, stating “Love, love, love – that is the soul of genius,” and Beethoven, the harbinger of musical Romanticism, left behind what is perhaps the unparalleled love letter to the still unknown capturer of his affections, the “Immortal Beloved.”
The Aiken Symphony Orchestra returns with an array of Romantic-era masterpieces in time for Valentine’s Day, featuring cellist Jonathan Swensen at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Etherredge Center on the University of South Carolina Aiken's campus.
The sonic exploration of the human heart will be in the three heard in the evening’s performance, Weber, Lalo and Brahms. A composer of the early Romantic period, Weber is a successor to Mozart in the composition of five Germanic operas, including Oberon.
Though most often performed in concert, Oberon survives due to the success of its arias and its overture which starts the evening’s proceedings. Most striking of all and a distinguishing feature of this work, is the “magic horn call” of the French horn, enhanced by the sound of strings and woodwinds in a celebration of the supernatural, bringing out feelings of love and longing.
Following the overture is the Cello Concerto by Lalo, a late19th century French composer. Popular among students, this highly demanding work is a perfect showcase for a highly romantic instrument. Its rhapsodic nature captures the whirlwind essence of the human heart, from the passionate and whimsical to the aggressive and intense.
The winner of the 2022 Avery Fisher Career Grant and winner of multiple international competitions, Swensen’s charisma is the perfect physical embodiment of the work and the human heart in sound.
The Second symphony by Brahms, a composer whose life and music represent the passionate spirit of Romanticism, will end the show. Though melancholic to the composer, it is nicknamed Pastoral for its idyllic and lovely character.
Dr. Scott Weiss's pre-concert lecture “Illuminations” begins at 2 p.m.
Tickets for “Romantic Masterpieces” are available for purchase on the symphony's website or by contacting its office by phone at 803-295-0313 or email at email@example.com.