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CSO punctuates its 2022-23 season with ‘new,’ Riccardo Muti bids farewell as music director

Submitted by on Mar 29, 2022 – 9:14 pm

Riccardo Muti will enter his final season as CSO music director. (Todd Rosenberg)


By Lawrence B. Johnson
Report: Muti will conclude his directorship with Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis,” capping season of audience favorites from the maestro. 

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s season plans for 2022-23, announced March 29, bring the twice-deferred conclusion to the Riccardo Muti era at Orchestra Hall. The Italian conductor, who will be about a month shy of his 82nd birthday when his tenure ends in June 2023, will go out in grand fashion with Beethoven’s epic “Missa Solemnis.” As his second five-year stint at the CSO helm came to a close in 2020, Muti signed on for a two-year extension, only to see that plan blown up by the Covid pandemic. When virtually all of the 2020-21 season was canceled, Muti agreed to a further extension through 2023.

Beyond its Beethoven finale and a generous offering of audience favorites under the music director’s baton, the new season also promises the world premiere of a still-untitled work by CSO composer-in-residence Jessie Montgomery, plus several other firsts.

New season brings a world premiere by resident composer Jessie Montgomery  (Todd Rosenberg)

Oct. 4, 2023, marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of Symphony Center, the complex that houses Orchestra Hall as well as other performance venues and the CSO’s administrative offices. Almost on that mark, the Symphony Center Presents series spotlights a visit by the Berlin Philharmonic on Nov. 16 in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 under its chief conductor, Kirill Petrenko.

Several U.S. premieres dot the season. Mut leads the first U.S. performances of “Solemn Prayer” (1899) by the British composer of African descent Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The season also features U.S. premieres of “Aino” by Jimmy López and the cello concerto “Diary of a Madman” by Lera Auerbach, composed for and performed by Gautier Capuçon.

Julia Wolfe’s “Her Story” is a CSO co-commission.  (Peter Serling)

As part of a co-commission with four other major American orchestras, the CSO performs Julia Wolfe’s “Her Story,” conducted by Marin Alsop and
featuring the Lorelei Ensemble, a group of female vocalists in its Chicago Symphony debut. The CSO also renews its partnership with the Joffrey Ballet in a program that includes two world premiere ballets choreographed by Cathy Marston and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

A classic Russian theme courses through much of Muti’s own programming for the season. He leads off (Sept. 22-27) with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 and Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Yefim Bronfman. Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 are paired Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Muti wraps up his opening residency Oct. 6-8 with the Mussorgsky-Ravel “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 with Maurizio Pollinii.

Conductor Manfred Honeck leads Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.

Among other Muti highlights: Tchaikovsky’s “Manfred” Symphony (Feb. 23-25, 2023), Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (May 11-16, 2023) and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (June 15-17, 2023).

An extensive roster of guest conductors begins with Christian Thielemann, chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden, leading Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 (Oct. 20-25). The Chinese-American Xian Zhang, music director of the New Jersey Symphony, conducts Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6 and the Grieg Piano Concerto (with Simon Trpčeski) Oct. 27-Nov. 1. Manfred Honeck returns to conduct Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (Nov. 7-20). Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, chief conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, leads Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 and, with the CSO Chorus, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (Dec. 1-6). Ukrainian-born Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska, chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony, leads Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with CSO artist-in-residence Hilary Hahn (Dec. 8-10).

Klaus Mäkelä, chief conductor of both the Oslo Philharmonic and the Orchestre de Paris, leads Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 (Feb. 16-18, 2023), and Osmo Vänskä, who this June concludes his 19-year directorship of the Minnesota Orchestra, will lead the CSO and Chorus in Orff’s “Carmina Burana” (March 16-18, 2023). Vladimir Jurowski returns to lead Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”) in performances April 27-29, 2023). Jakub Hrůša, chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony and principal guest of the Czech Philharmonic, presides over Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (June 8-10, 2023).

Christian Tetzlaff will play Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. (Georgia Bertazzi)

Popular soloists for next season include Christian Tetzlaff in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (Nov. 3-5), cellist Gautier Capuçon in Lera Auerbach’s “Diary of a Madman” (Nov. 17-20). pianist Beatrice Rana in Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Feb. 9-11, 2023), Julia Fischer in the Schumann Violin Concerto (Feb. 23-25, 2023), Kirill Gerstein in Thomas Adès’ Piano Concerto (April 6-11, 2023), Hilary Hahn once more in Sarasate’s “Carmen” Fantasy (April 13-15) and Daniil Trifonov in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (April 20-23, 2023). Vadim Gluzman is the soloist for Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (June 1-6, 2023).

Four principal players from with the CSO also will make solo appearances: Stephen Williamson in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto (March 23-26, 2023), concertmaster Robert Chen in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 (May 18-20, 2023), David Herbert in William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 1 (May 25-27) and Gene Pokorny in Lalo Schifrin’s Tuba Concerto (June 15-17).

CSO principal timpani David Herbert will solo in William Kraft’s concerto. (Todd Rosenberg)