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CSO debut: Pianist Lugansky shows Russian school still thrives with grand Rachmaninoff

Apr 6, 2012 – 5:07 pm

Review: Sensational. That, in a word, was Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky’s debut April 5 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Charles Dutoit. The tall, assured pianist – one could only think of the young Van Cliburn – made epic poetry of Rachmaninoff’s formidable Third Piano Concerto in a performance that probed a deep vein of lyricism and simply transcended technical issues. ****

In a week to remember, pianist Mitsuko Uchida bridges the lyrical realms of Schubert, Mozart

Mar 31, 2012 – 5:59 pm
Mitsuko Uchida featured image credit Hyou Vielz

Commentary: Pianist Mitsuko Uchida’s two appearances this last week at Orchestra Hall, in a recital of Schubert’s late sonatas March 25 and her current concerts playing and conducting Mozart concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, resonate not like discrete encounters but rather like an epic testimonial to her phenomenal art.

Cultural twins, tied to Chicago and Poland, set to make their mark in the orchestra world

Mar 29, 2012 – 8:49 am
Eska Laskus featured image

Receive management fellowships.

Surprise! Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma spring serenade on lunch crowd at Thompson Center

Mar 19, 2012 – 5:17 pm
Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma jam on 3-19-2012 at James T. Thompson Center Chicago  credit Nancy Malitz

Soprano and cello, burgers and pizza.

Solemnity rules as Riccardo Muti guides CSO through musical perspectives on human spirit

Mar 16, 2012 – 4:31 pm
Riccardo Muti music director Chicago Symphony 2012

Review: Riccardo Muti has given Chicago many reasons to celebrate his music directorship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but perhaps the most perfect expression of his belief in art’s purpose comes in the current run of rarely heard works for chorus and orchestra by Brahms, Schoenberg and Cherubini. ****

In a program of Handel arias, Iestyn Davies illuminates Baroque art of the countertenor

Mar 10, 2012 – 6:48 pm
Iestyn Davies Photo: Marco Borggreve

Review: You’ve got to hand it to countertenor Iestyn Davies and conductor Harry Bicket. When they take a night off from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where they’re performing music of George Frideric Handel, they’re in another part of town performing … George Frideric Handel. Is this love or what? ****

Virtuosity on display, CSO and Zukerman burnish Brahms concerto, 2nd Symphony

Mar 9, 2012 – 5:02 pm
Pinchas Zukerman featured image credit Paul Labelle

Review: Sometimes, in the course of a symphony orchestra season, it’s good just to hear the band dial up the core German repertoire and show what it can do. That’s exactly what the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and music director Riccardo Muti did March 8 in a sumptuous double dose of Brahms, the Violin Concerto with soloist Pinchas Zukerman and the Second Symphony. *****

Soprano Hui He takes over as Aida in Lyric’s new cast, and suddenly the chemistry bubbles

Mar 9, 2012 – 11:21 am
Aida featured image Quinn Kelsey Amonasro Hui He Aida Chicago Lyric Opera DAN_7621 c. Dan Rest

“Aida” with four new singers. 4 stars!

In a bold CSO debut, English conductor meets twin challenges of Mahler and Schoenberg

Mar 2, 2012 – 7:29 pm
Thomas Nott Featured Image Michelle DeYoung Stuart Skelton Chicago Symphony 2012 credit Todd Rosenberg

Review: Stepping in to pinch hit for Pierre Boulez may not be the least stressful way to make one’s conducting debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Subbing on short notice to take over Boulez’s rare pairing of Mahler’s song-symphony “Das Lied von der Erde” and Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto – that’s quite a debut.****

Handel trips back to the future as Lyric Opera proclaims the outrageous genius of ‘Rinaldo’

Mar 1, 2012 – 3:30 pm
RINALDO featured image Elza van den Heever, dancers,  RST_2961 c. Dan Rest

Not your grandfather’s Handel. 4 stars!

Lyric Opera commissions a young Peruvian’s first stage work, setting of Lima hostage crisis

Feb 29, 2012 – 2:13 am
Lopez

The Lyric Opera of Chicago has commissioned the first opera from 33-year-old Peruvian composer Jimmy López, and will present the new work’s world premiere in December 2015.

‘Meistersinger’ to ‘Streetcar,’ Lyric Opera’s new season offers scenic route with 9 stops

Feb 27, 2012 – 3:55 pm
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The Chicago Lyric Opera’s new season begins and ends with shows that should attract aficionados of opera and theater: “Elektra” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Here’s the show-by-show breakdown.

Lyric Opera ventures into American musical with a ‘Show Boat’ that you can’t help lovin’

Feb 16, 2012 – 1:50 pm
Show Boat Lyric Opera featured image c. Robert Kusel

Song and dance on the Delta. 5 stars!

Riccardo Muti, Chicago Symphony unleash alternative energy of Mason Bates, Anna Clyne

Feb 14, 2012 – 9:01 pm
Clyne_Anna_Bates_Mason_featured image credit_Todd_Rosenberg

Feature: Chicago Symphony Orchestra performances in California and at Carnegie Hall will introduce new works by young resident composers Feb. 14-19 and Oct. 4.

Forget brass ring, tenor Jay Hunter Morris appears from nowhere to grab Wagner gold

Feb 9, 2012 – 10:36 am
Deborah Voight and Jay Hunter Morris Met Gotterdammerung featured image credit Ken Howard

Interview: The Texas native talks about his unlikely mid-career burst into stardom at the Metropolitan Opera. Morris plays the hero Siegfried in the Met’s HD broadcast of Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung” at cinemas worldwide Saturday, Feb. 11.

Chicago Symphony’s 2012-13 plans highlight Wagner, Stravinsky and waterway themes

Feb 6, 2012 – 7:38 pm
Riccardo Muti Orchestra Hall credit Todd Rosenberg

Complete season highlights, details.

‘Aida’ at the Lyric Opera: Verdi’s tragedy hits the pitches but misses some dramatic notes

Jan 28, 2012 – 8:00 pm
Aida Chicago Lyric featured image credit Dan Rest

The Princess’ rival is her slave. 3 stars

In Orff’s earthy ‘Carmina Burana,’ Muti guides CSO and vocal force to Fortune’s throne room

Jan 27, 2012 – 7:14 pm
CSO Muti Carmina Burana featured image

Review: Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with the Chicago Children’s Choir conducted by Riccardo Muti. Maria Grazia Schiavo, soprano; Max Emanuel Cencic, countertenor; Stéphane Degout, baritone. Through Jan. 28. *****

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
Stephane_Deneve featured image

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.