Category: CSO

rvw CSO: World Premiere and Mahler

Most went to the CSO Thursday evening to see Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting Mahler’s 6th and most tragic symphony. I went for the world premiere and stayed for the 80-minute meditation on fate, which ends in blows. Fact: Fate always wins. As fate would have it, James Matheson’s premiere of his violin concerto, commissioned by the... Read more »

CSO rvw: How soon is NOW?

Monday night at 7:60 I left the house, feeling open-minded and optimistic, to go to the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW at the Harris Theater. Upon arriving, the house hadn’t yet opened and the throng of people anxiously waiting looked like invasive carp at an electric fence—confused but committed. Finally, in a pique of berserker rage, the... Read more »

Jeremy Denk: Think, Play, Love

Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity—along with busloads of elderly folks, school children, and members of eighth blackbird—to see the CSO under Michael Tilson Thomas accompany Jeremy Denk in Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto. If you are unfamiliar with Jeremy Denk, you should read his blog and buy his Ives CD. Not necessarily in that order.... Read more »
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Rvw: Ives, Musgrave and Strauss at CSO

10 years ago, I drove all the way across Illinois only to be late to the CSO by 5 minutes. Alas. And so, I had to watch through the portals as John Adams conducted Ives’ 3 Places in New England. At the time, I didn’t know what I was missing. Last night, I finally got... Read more »

MusicNOW Ends Season with Bells and Whistles

The CSO’s MusicNOW season ended with concert of 4 pieces in 90 minutes, 2 of which were world premières, and 1 which has already become a classic in just 20 years. The 2 premières were from composers-in-residence Anna Clyne and Mason Bates; in between, there was an ethereal work from Nathan Davis; to conclude, Finnish... Read more »

Penderecki pendulates at CSO

…and then at some point, Krzysztof Penderecki stopped asking himself “Is this music different or original?” This question, at the origin of much 20th-century music, acts as both an exhortation and a limit. It results in new methods and sounds but, at the same time, limits composers, preventing them from engaging with the past–except in... Read more »
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CSO unveils Donatoni, sandwiched between Wagner and Bruckner

The CSO Thursday played a last piece for the first time. Franco Donatoni composed Esa (In cauda V), the last piece of his life, while bed-written and dying, dictating it to his students. The then septuagenerian Italian dedicated it to Esa-Pekka Salonen, one of his former students, who also conducted its Chicago premiere. It sounds like... Read more »

CSO: Salonen, Salonen!

Esa-Pekka Salonen grew up under the thumb of late-20th-century European Modernism, a sort of extreme rejection of fascism as composers maniacally sought to avoid the emotionally manipulative gimmicks that were used by the Nazi regime–especially anything Wagnerian. Like a lot of oppressed people from around the world, he found new horizons in the land of... Read more »

CSO this wknd: Salonen & Sibelius

Two nights only–Thursday and Saturday–the CSO is playing Esa-Pekka Salonen’s violin concerto under the composer’s direction along with Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun and Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony. It starts with the Debussy, one of the oft-repeated clichés of orchestra, with which you are familiar–even if not by name. Then it’s all Finnish.... Read more »
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CSO plays DWGs: Stravinsky, Borodin, and Brahms

I went to the CSO Thursday night, and everyone was confused–myself included–why I was there, for there was no new music on the program. They couldn’t even find my tickets at the box office. After I managed to get in, I saw Stravinsky’s Fairy Kiss Suite, some dances by Borodin, and Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto.... Read more »