Articles in Classical + Opera
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. ****
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.
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Soprano and cello, burgers and pizza.
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. ****
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? ****
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. *****
“Aida” with four new singers. 4 stars!
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.****
Not your grandfather’s Handel. 4 stars!
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.
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.
Song and dance on the Delta. 5 stars!
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.
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.
Complete season highlights, details.
The Princess’ rival is her slave. 3 stars
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. *****
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. ****
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.
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.
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.”
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. *****
Mozart’s classic opera revives. 3 stars.
Lovable but seriously bizarre. 4 stars!
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.
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.
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. *****
Tortured soul of a Russian czar. 4 stars!
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.