the traveler's resource guide to festivals & filmsa FestivalTravelNetwork.com site part of Insider Media llc.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, photo by Todd Rosenberg
At Carnegie Hall on the evening of Thursday, October 5th, I had the enormous privilege to attend a magnificent concert—the second of two on consecutive nights and a brilliant inauguration of the new season at this venue—of music with an Italian theme, presented by the stellar artists of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the magisterial direction of Riccardo Muti, probably the most revered living conductor.
The program began beautifully with an impeccable account of Philip Glass’s remarkableThe Triumph of the Octagon, commissioned by this ensemble and here receiving its New York premiere; below I quote in its entirety the note on it by the composer (who was in attendance and stood to receive the audience’s acclaim):
In February 2022, I traveled to Chicago for performances of my Symphony No. 11. It was a thrill to hear this great orchestra and conductor in the hall where I would visit as a student in the early 1950s. After those performances, we began conversations about writing a new piece specifically for this orchestra with the initial idea to create an “Adagio for Muti.” The final title of the work came from a suggestion from Maestro Riccardo Muti about Castel del Monte, a 13th-century castle in southeastern Italy.
The mystery of this ancient place and the uniqueness of its geometric proportions, specifically its eight octagonal towers, was an interesting catalyst; while I have written music about people, places, events, and cultures, I cannot recall ever composing a piece about a building. What became clear was that I was not writing a piece about Castel del Monte per se, but rather about one’s imagination when we consider such a place.
I dedicate this work to Maestro Muti, in honor of his many successes as conductor of the CSO and important contributions to the world of music.
Even more impressive was a sterling rendition—indeed the finest I have ever encountered—of Felix Mendelssohn’s marvelous “Italian” Symphony. The initial Allegro vivace movement was fittingly effervescent and sparkling but not without depths of feeling and even quasi-mystical passages. (One could discern Schubertian echoes here and elsewhere in the work.) The ensuing Andante con moto sustained a kind of spiritual solemnity while the third movement—marked Con moto moderato—has a stately quality despite a certain levity and even more so in the weightier Trio section. The engaging Saltarello finale was turbulent and dynamic.
The second half of the event was comparably memorable with its stunning realization of Richard Strauss’s early, extraordinaryAus Italien.The opening movement—entitled “In the Country”—was evocative and both grand and lyrical and, like the piece as a whole, is more full-blown in its Romanticism than the classicizing Mendelssohn symphony is. The following movement—“Amid the Ruins of Rome”—was more intense and dramatic; the enchanting “On the Shores of Sorrento,” surprisingly has a pastoral character and the concluding “Neapolitan Folk Life” was ebullient. Enthusiastic applause was rewarded with a delightful encore: Giuseppe Verdi’s splendid Overture to his early opera,Giovanna d'Arco.
Page 7 of 503
Sign up for our weekly newsletter!