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Chicago Dishes Out Deep Melodies in New York

Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Carnegie Hall
New York City
Friday, February 9th, 2018

A terrific season of orchestral music at Carnegie Hall continued unforgettably on the evening of Friday, February 9th, with a magnificent concert—the first of two on consecutive nights — given by the superb musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the masterly direction of Riccardo Muti, one of the most esteemed of living conductors.

The eclectic program — which was significant for showcasing less familiar repertory — opened auspiciously with a marvelous performance of Igor Stravinsky’s precocious and delightful Scherzo fantastique, too seldom heard in the concert hall. Also remarkable, and unexpectedly so, was the New York premiere of the surprisingly accessible one-movement Low Brass Concerto — for two trombones, bass trombone, and tuba — by the popular contemporary composer, Jennifer Higdon, who is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. This fine work was commissioned by this orchestra for its renowned brass section, here featuring Jay Friedman, Michael Mulcahy, Charles Vernon, and Gene Pokorny as soloists. But this was an unusually integrated work for a concerto, notable especially for its brilliant orchestral writing and rhythmic dynamism. The composer appeared onstage to receive an enthusiastic ovation.
The second half of the evening was even more extraordinary, beginning with a superlative account of Ernest Chausson’s gorgeous Poème de l’amour et de la mer, exceptionally sung by mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine. Equally impressive was the closing piece, Benjamin Britten’s glorious Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, his celebrated opera. With the audience’s excited response, Muti took the stage to announce what proved to be an exquisite encore, a favorite of his and the ensemble’s, the lovely Notturno, Op. 70, No. 1 of Giuseppe Martucci — it was a wonderful conclusion to one of the best concerts of the season.

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