Articles by John von Rhein
Review: No living conductor, not even music director Riccardo Muti, enjoys a longer association with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra than Daniel Barenboim. It was 48 years ago this month that the Israeli musical polymath, then all of 28, led the CSO for the first time. Barenboim would become the CSO’s music director in 1991 and hold that post until 2006. On Nov. 1, for the first time in the 12 years since he stepped down, Barenboim returned to conduct the CSO in the six symphonic poems of Smetana’s “Má vlast” (My Homeland), a reading more attuned to virtuosic effect than to the work’s essential Bohemian nationalism.
Review: Despite a superior musical performance by a fine international cast, and firmly idiomatic orchestral playing and choral work from the promising Venezuelan-Swiss conductor Domingo Hindoyan, in his Lyric debut, the new-to-Chicago “La bohème” by director Richard Jones is a major letdown, a misconceived case of too much here and too little there.★★★
Review: After an absence of more than 20 years from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra repertoire, Muti and the CSO have brought back Hindemith’s magnum opus in a brilliant, deeply considered performance. French pianist David Fray was the cool, unconvincing soloist in Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto.
Review: Music director Riccardo Muti’s second week of concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was notably conservative – Mozart’s Overture to “Don Giovanni” and his Symphony No. 40 in G minor, together with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” – but even curmudgeonly critics had to acknowledge the consistently high level of performance the maestro drew from his remarkable ensemble in a program Sept. 27 at a packed and enthusiastic Orchestra Hall.
Review: Music director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra opened their 2018-19 season Sept. 21 with an eloquent and gripping performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 (“Babi Yar”) on verses of Yevgeny Yevtushenko memorializing the massacre of Jews by German soldiers near Kiev in 1941. The composer’s widow, Irina Shostakovich, joined Muti on stage at Orchestra Hall for a post-performance conversation.