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Articles in Classical + Opera

Honeck and the Chicago Symphony recall Dvorak on native soil with a dancing Eighth

Jan 20, 2012 – 1:03 pm
Honeck_Manfred_cr_KunstlerSekretariatamGasteig Featured image

Review: If Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony is a yearning postcard “From the New World,” his Symphony No. 8 in G major is redolent of a composer happily settled on native ground. The Eighth is decidedly of the Old World, as conductor Manfred Honeck and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra so generously demonstrated Jan. 19 at Orchestra Hall. ****

Marriage of true minds: Chicago Shakespeare brings the Bard to Chicago Symphony’s party

Jan 4, 2012 – 4:57 pm
Barbara-Gaines-Chicago-Shak

Preview: Barbara Gaines directs actors from Chicago Shakespeare Theater in concerts Jan. 5-14 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, featuring music inspired by the Bard.

Like composer on the podium, Salonen leads Chicago Symphony in brilliant Mahler Sixth

Dec 17, 2011 – 10:30 pm
Salonen_Esa-Pekka_featured image credit_Snezana Vucetic Bohm

The Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen shares a peculiarity of temperament and genius with Gustav Mahler. Like Mahler in his time, Salonen today stands among the most important conductors in the world. And again like his great forebear, Salonen would really rather be composing than be saddled with the responsibilities of music director for any orchestra you could name. Even one that might be looking for someone to succeed James Levine in Boston.

Early music vocalists Anonymous 4, bearing gifts from new CD, to offer Chicago concert

Dec 13, 2011 – 4:56 pm
Anonymous 4 featured image

Profile: Anonymous 4, the vocal quartet renowned for its plainchant and medieval music recordings, celebrates 25 seasons with a holiday concert of favorites at Chicago’s Art Institute Dec. 18, and a new release called “Secret Voices.”

Tallis Scholars magnify spirit of Christmas in a Renaissance concert at Rockefeller Chapel

Dec 10, 2011 – 3:41 pm
Tallis Scholars featured image c Eric Richmond

Review: For many music lovers, the single word Magnificat probably summons the name Bach, whose setting of this ancient “song of Mary” is doubtless the most famous to modern listeners. But in fact the Magnificat enjoys a long and glorious tradition in music history, notably in the 16th century, and several such Renaissance gems were on display Friday night in an exquisite concert by the Tallis Scholars at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel. *****

Once more, Lyric’s treasured ‘Magic Flute’ spins its noble, wacky tale of love and light

Dec 9, 2011 – 11:12 am
Charles Castronovo Magic Flute c Dan Rest Lyric Opera Chicago

Mozart’s classic opera revives. 3 stars.

Lyric Opera’s zany ‘Ariadne auf Naxos’ is model Strauss with dash of Marx Brothers

Nov 24, 2011 – 1:17 pm
Ariadne2-Lyric-Opera-Chicago-Feature-Image-2a-c-Dan-Rest

Lovable but seriously bizarre. 4 stars!

Glass’ meditative ‘Satyagraha,’ on Gandhi, takes Met’s Live HD series to new ground

Nov 17, 2011 – 7:41 pm
Satyagraha blue featured image

Preview: The Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD broadcasts throughout the U.S. feature a landmark of American minimalism not to miss — ”Satyagraha” by Philip Glass, Nov. 19 and Dec. 7. Here’s a peek.

Contempo doubles down on new music, plays matchmaker for separate audiences

Nov 13, 2011 – 9:21 am
Hiromi feature

Preview: U.S. and Chicago premieres abound in the season opener of the new-music series Contempo, at the Harris Theater Tuesday. The concert is a double bill featuring a second set with Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara and her trio.

French conductor Stéphane Denève scores a triumph in Chicago Symphony debut

Nov 11, 2011 – 1:40 pm
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Review: The French conductor Stéphane Denève made a thrilling debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Thursday night. Denève, who turns 40 this month, is going to be an international force, and his concert with the CSO amply demonstrated why. *****

Lyric Opera’s powerful ‘Boris Godunov’ recaptures tragedy’s original stark beauty

Nov 10, 2011 – 8:24 pm
Boris featured image

Tortured soul of a Russian czar. 4 stars!

In Handel’s ‘Water Music,’ Labadie and Chicago Symphony provide a splash of Baroque authenticity

Nov 4, 2011 – 12:43 pm
Portrait of Handel by Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman (1819–88)

What a pleasure it was Thursday night to hear Handel’s vivacious “Water Music” in the hands of a conductor who knows it so intimately that he doesn’t require a score – and who understands what charms it possesses that induced a delighted monarch to command repeated performances at its first hearing.

Calling all composers! Win up to 5 minutes on a Hilary Hahn recital! And be recorded!

Nov 2, 2011 – 3:06 pm
HilaryHahnYouTube

No, this is not an appeal on the back of a cereal box, although it’s definitely got that gee-whiz feeling.Leave it to Hilary Hahn, the nimble-witted concert violinist and Deutsche Grammophon recording artist, to announce her Encore Contest in a whisper on YouTube by candlelight.

Review: Pacifica Quartet pairs Shostakovich and Beethoven, showing them as peers

Oct 31, 2011 – 5:37 pm
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Review: The Pacifica Quartet offered a stunning reminder in its concert Sunday at the University of Chicago that the quartets of Shostakovich stand shoulder to shoulder with Beethoven’s as exemplars of the form, great and deeply personal expressions. *****

In a meeting of grey eminences, Haitink scores a fine first in Haydn’s oratorio ‘The Creation’

Oct 28, 2011 – 6:27 pm
Bernard Haitink conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra Bostridge Ek Mueller-Brachman

Review: Is there an optimal year in one’s life to conduct a masterpiece of Haydn for the first time? In the case of Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation,” the magical number would appear to be 82. ****

Amid Beethoven and Shostakovich quartet cycles, Pacifica to glimpse both at University of Chicago

Oct 27, 2011 – 10:17 am
PacificaPortraitC

The Pacifica Quartet has been playing complete cycles of Beethoven’s 16 string quartets and Shostakovich’s 15 in international venues over the last couple of years. Violist Masumi Per Rostad talks about the enduring importance of both composers.

Bernard Haitink charms Chicago Symphony with twin beauties from Schubert and Mahler

Oct 21, 2011 – 5:42 pm
Bernard Haitink Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Review: Conductor Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra summoned performances of exceptional clarity in Schubert’s chamber-size Fifth Symphony and Mahler’s grand-scaled Fourth Symphony. *****

Chicago Symphony MusicNOW opens season with ping-pong balls and rhythms a-tumble

Oct 19, 2011 – 5:34 pm
Music Now

Review: MusicNOW, the contemporary series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, began its 2011-12 season alive with the music of ping-pong balls, marimba, country fiddle and eerie vocals. Composers converged from Dublin, Connecticut, Minnesota and London to hear their works performed.

What’s under that skirt? Chicago Lyric Opera’s coloratura Anna Christy kicks Olympia into top gear

Oct 18, 2011 – 4:26 pm
Olympia wheels featured

Lyric Opera close-up: We had to know. How is it that soprano Anna Christy is able to zip around like a hovercraft while pinging those sparkling high notes as Olympia, the mechanical doll, in “The Tales of Hoffmann”?

Finnish conductor answers every question in CSO debut

Oct 14, 2011 – 9:33 pm
Musgrave Bloom and Malkki

Susanna Mälkki, the 42-year-old music director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 13 with a program of Charles Ives and Richard Strauss that, in every way, placed her among the most important conductors of her generation.

Riccardo Muti receives Birgit Nilsson Prize of $1M

Oct 13, 2011 – 2:07 pm
Muti Birgit Nilsson press conf

Video: In acceptance speech, he stresses social commitment thru music.

With new honors falling like autumn leaves, Riccardo Muti reflects on the conductor’s art

Oct 13, 2011 – 12:54 am
Arturo-Toscanini

In Part 2 of an interview with Chicago On the Aisle, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director extols Italian training, calls Toscanini his hero and admits impatience with routine effort – and prima donnas.

Lyric Opera’s ‘Lucia’: New production casts a shimmering light on tale of love and madness

Oct 12, 2011 – 8:57 am
Susanna_Phillips_Lucia_di_Lammermoor_DBR_6255_cDan_Rest

Donizetti’s bel canto dazzler. 5 stars!

From ‘naughty’ composer, young Baroque troupe gets a nice boost

Oct 11, 2011 – 4:50 pm
Wayward Sisters ensemble

It’s the phone call all struggling musicians hope for — the announcement of a competition prize complete with recording contract. For Wayward Sisters, a Baroque ensemble specializing in 17th-century music, the news lit up lines in Chicago and three other locales where its four members reside.

Riccardo Muti unearths gem in Mahler tribute

Oct 7, 2011 – 2:25 pm
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Mahler conducted the world premiere of Busoni’s “Berceuse élégiaque” at the last public performance of his life, with the New York Philharmonic in 1911. At the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s re-creation of the event, the nine incredible minutes of the “Berceuse” alone are sufficient reason to attend.

Sidestepping Mahler, Muti points toward Bruckner and plans that will stretch the CSO

Oct 5, 2011 – 5:13 pm
Music Director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 2011 European Tour

In an exclusive interview with Chicago On the Aisle, Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti explains his limited enthusiasm for Mahler and reflects on a lifelong struggle with the immensity of Beethoven.

A portrait of Mahler as maker of worlds and emblem of ours

Oct 4, 2011 – 3:55 pm
Mahler Biography by Jens Malte Fischer

Fischer’s landmark bio of the great symphonist is now in English. 4 stars!

Lyric love and fractured hearts in the mirror of Offenbach’s time

Oct 3, 2011 – 7:08 am
Tales of Hoffmann Lyric Opera of Chicago 5

Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann” opens Lyric Opera of Chicago season. 4 stars!

CSO marks Liszt bicentenary with an epic and a romp

Oct 1, 2011 – 2:46 pm
Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Celebrating the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth, music director Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra forged a sublime performance of Liszt’s epic “Faust Symphony.”

Light the lights! Lyric Opera stirs a musical into the mix

Sep 28, 2011 – 1:45 pm
Lyric Opera of Chicago production of "Aida"

Eight operas for 2011-12 include new productions of “Showboat,”Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Handel’s “Rinaldo.” The new season opens Saturday night with Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann.”