Articles in Classical + Opera
Concerts by the chamber music ensemble Civitas are as likely to take place at Lurie Children’s Hospital as they are on a concert stage, and perhaps that focus helps to explain the particular warmth and humor of the group’s programming sensibility. Its performances radiate joyful vigor, a happy blend of virtuosity and camaraderie. ““The last thing we want to be is stodgy,” says founder Yuan-Qing Yu.
Report: Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons was named Thursday as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Nelsons will become officially installed as the BSO’s 15th music director effective with the 2014-15 season, but meanwhile will act as music director-designate for the 2013-14 season.
Preview: Literally and metaphorically, rivers seem to flow in every direction across our lives; indeed, across life. It’s not hard to see how the Chicago Symphony Orchestra might have hit on the concept of its Rivers Festival, a multifaceted month-long exploration and tribute that opens musically May 9 at Orchestra Hall.
Review: After the third encore in pianist Evgeny Kissin’s recital Sunday afternoon at Orchestra Hall, the hundreds of listeners still on hand switched into an insistent, stentorian applause. The Russian virtuoso came through with one last bonus, a thundering roll through Chopin’s Prelude in D minor, Op. 28, No. 24; and with that, another phenomenal exhibition was over. ★★★★★
Review: Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat isn’t known as the “Rhenish” for nothing. I felt very much like Schumann’s Rhine-journeying companion Thursday night, listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s radiant performance of the Third Symphony conducted by music director Riccardo Muti. ★★★★
Review: Bittersweet remembrance with a tango pulse hangs over the surreal mindscape of “María de Buenos Aires,” the operatic love story created – perhaps the right word is insinuated – by composer Astor Piazzolla and poet Horacio Ferrer, and staged with bold, evocative imagination at Chicago Opera Theater. ★★★★
Review: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Mozart-Beethoven concert Thursday night with music director Riccardo Muti felt like one long “aha!” moment. Here was the full measure of finesse, composure and pliancy the orchestra had expected to put on display for audiences in Southeast Asia with Muti at the helm, but in his absence never entirely achieved. ★★★★★
Preview: Alison Balsom, the British classical trumpet star who brings her blazing sound to Chicago in a concert with the Scottish Ensemble, knew which instrument had her name on it the first time she heard Dizzy Gillespie on a recording. She was 8 years old.
Report: The first time Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti visited the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, in September 2012, it was to offer a concert to more than 100 youths awaiting trial for serious crimes. For his return visit on April 14, the music was provided by juveniles with help from CSO musicians, and it was Muti who took a turn in the audience.
Asks silence before Bach Mass
Burnished glory of Chicago brass
Review: The decidedly Italianate, essentially operatic treatment of Bach’s Mass in B Minor offered this weekend by conductor Riccardo Muti and forces of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra may have little to do with the elusive question of Baroque performance practice, but it has everything to do with spiritual authenticity, conceptual integrity and musical wisdom. ★★★★★
Review: The Berlin Philharmonic delivered a concert performance of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” April 7, simultaneously broadcast in Europe, that seemed to waft in like a spring breeze. The concert’s now being edited for streaming to internet audiences via the Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall, and there’s much to recommend it, including a delightful Papageno new to American opera lovers and a sneak peek at a Queen of the Night who makes her Met debut in 2014. Above all, front and center, was an orchestra such as you will rarely hear in an opera pit. ★★★★
Report: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced a bundle of developments at a press conference Wednesday morning, but the best news may have been the vigorous appearance and high spirits of music director Riccardo Muti.
Review: This is the story of a small world and a hidden gem. The jewel in question is the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, a beautifully balanced, virtuosic Berlin ensemble with a youthful look that plays in the shadow of the Berlin Philharmonic. Yet, with two such orchestras sharing the splendid Philharmonie concert hall, this city is simply twice blessed.
Preview: When Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo steps in front of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for concerts April 4-6, he will put the spotlight on Danish composer Carl Nielsen, a figure that has waxed and waned in the hearts of audiences and conductors alike over the last half century.
Review: While it wasn’t quite the alpha and omega of Mozart’s numerous ventures into the piano concerto, the two works pianist Mitsuko Uchida performed March 28 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra did offer a telling perspective on a composer on top of the world and one who had seen all too much of it. ★★★★
Review: While the Tchaikovsky symphonies hardly belong to the exclusive province of Russian conductors, the free-wheeling, hair-raising Fourth Symphony that Tugan Sokhiev led with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on March 21 simply may not be an interpretive option within the DNA of conductors from other parts of the world. ★★★★
Ravinia Festival Best Bets: If you want to branch out a bit musically, the summertime Ravinia Festival in Highland Park is a good place for it. There, classical music lovers sample niche-expanding novelties of the sort that gave Brooklyn Academy of Music its must-see reputation. College students picnic on the lawn for free when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs. And family friendly movie prices rule for recitals featuring the latest contest winners and stars on the rise.