Category: review

rvw: Glorious Boris at Lyric

While the serfs suffered and the boyars bayed, Boris Fyodorovich Godunov, the Czar of Russia, wallowed in grief. Pushkin dramatized this moment in Russian history into a play, Borris Godunov, which Modest Mussorgsky turned into an opera, currently in production at the Lyric Opera. The dazzling spectacle transports the audience back 400 years to a turbulent... Read more »

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 »

Rvw: Lyric's Hoffmann: Comme Ci, Comme Ça

I went into Tales of Hoffmann with low expectations and was not disappointed. Pessimistically comical and misogynistic, Lyric Opera chose the final opera from German/French operetta (and Can Can) composer Jacques Offenbach to open their season; If I were God I might have buried it somewhere in the middle. A Prologue introduces Hoffmann, a poet,... Read more »
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Rvw: Trippin' on Down with dal niente

Hundreds of people packed the Mayne Stage on Thursday to witness ensemble dal niente the Chicago Premiere of Fausto Romitelli’s “Professor Bad Trip”, a 3-movement imagination of a bad acid trip. People were turned on, tuned in, and only dropped out after an extended standing “O” with hoots and hollers from the balcony, many staying... Read more »

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 »

2-buck Civic plays nice with Salonen

Orchestra Hall was brimming with an enthusiastic audience Monday night to see Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct the Civic Orchestra, a paid training orchestra under the wing of the CSO. The “free” concert still required tickets, incurring a 2-dollar handling fee, but the minimal cost was greatly exceeded by the worth of the concert. Because of the... 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 »

Lohengrin at Lyric: Over the Top of the Top

Just when you thought all opera was epic and over-the-top, there’s Wagner: epically epic and over the top of the top. He’s like the Kanye West of opera. While Puccini chose contemporary subjects, elevating the mundane to legend, Wanger goes right for the jugular, choosing subjects that are so ancient that they almost seem to... Read more »

Review: Pacifica Quartet plays Shostakovich

Drowning in a sea of buzz, hype, and hyperbole, I somehow never paid much heed to the Pacifica Quartet. And so, Sunday, seeing them for the first time in a concert of all-Shostakovich, though I was prepared for greatness, they exceeded my expectations and blew me away. I don’t see string quartets too often (although... Read more »
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Review: Avalon Quartet at Merit 2/10/11

Celebrating their 16th year together, the Avalon String Quartet played a concert of Viennese music at the Merit School of Music. The concert began with Webern’s Langsamer Satz (1905), one of his Late-Romantic, pre-atonal pieces. The Avalon graciously unfurled the concupiscent quartet, moving with one mind through the push and pull of passion. The 9-minute... Read more »