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Articles in Classical + Opera

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.

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
PacificaPerformingD

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
Gustav_Mahler_Crop_Emil_Orlik_1902

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.”

Our hit list for the Chicago Symphony’s 2011-12 season

Sep 26, 2011 – 11:03 pm
Pianist-conductor Mitsuko Uchida

It’s tough to choose amid the bounty and variety that music director Riccardo Muti and guest conductors will offer in the coming months, but we’ve assembled an alluring 12-pack. The envelope, please…       …

CD reissues point up Riccardo Muti’s early mastery

Sep 26, 2011 – 7:33 pm
Muti conducts Berlioz

Complete Beethoven and Tchaikovsky symphonies are among the many major works in recordings from the 1970s and ‘80s by the CSO’s conductor with the Philadelphia and Philharmonia Orchestras.

From a long life in the opera world, Muti brings Chicago Symphony gifts of drama and poetry

Sep 26, 2011 – 4:19 am
Riccardo Muti is music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Photo by Todd Rosenbertg)

The distinctive qualities of Riccardo Muti’s genius as a conductor, above all a lyrical sensibility cultivated through decades in the opera house, will shape his tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony.

CD review: Beethoven sonatas, with polish and affection

Sep 24, 2011 – 9:25 pm
Fliter thumb

Ingrid Fliter’s fresh take on three favorite masterpieces. 4 stars!

As the Lyric Opera’s poster girl, Fleming proves pitch-perfect

Sep 24, 2011 – 7:41 pm
Soprano Renée Fleming

In a chat with high school singers picked for a new Lyric collaboration with the Merit School of Music, the soprano diva Renée Fleming admits she struck out twice competing in the Met auditions — and taking her driver’s exam.