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Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the wonderful American mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar!

A frequent guest in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, Quivar has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on numerous occasions, as follows:

Florence Quivar (Kenn Duncan photo)

June 21, 1980, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
James Levine, conductor

July 3, 1980, Ravinia Festival
SCHUBERT Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major, D. 950
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 13, 1980, Ravinia Festival
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Philip Creech, tenor
Arthur Thompson, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

April 8, 9, and 10, 1982, Orchestra Hall
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Yvonne Kenny, soprano
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

June 24, 1983, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Leona Mitchell, soprano
Ermanno Mauro, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

June 29, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Johanna Meier, soprano
Judith Blegen, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Giuliano Ciannella, tenor
Ryan Edwards, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Wisconsin Conservatory Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hawkins, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
James Levine, conductor

July 1, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MENDELSSOHN Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
Judith Blegen, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 2 and 3, 1984. For Deutsche Grammophon, Cord Garben was the recording supervisor, and Klaus Scheibe was the recording engineer.

July 13, 1986, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Benita Valente, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

Benita Valenta, Quivar, Philip Creech, and John Cheek onstage with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Mozart’s Requiem at the Ravinia Festival on July 13, 1986 (Jim Steere photo)

July 10, 1987, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Kaaren Erickson, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Karen Williams, soprano
Hillary Johnsson, mezzo-soprano
Timothy Jenkins, tenor
Thomas Hampson, baritone
John Cheek, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Milwaukee Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hawkins, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
Lucy Ding, director
James Levine, conductor

June 22, 1990, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

June 23, 1991, Ravinia Festival
MOZART Mass in C Minor, K. 427
MOZART Requiem in D Minor, K. 626
Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Peter Kazaras, tenor
Terry Cook, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor

July 7, 1991, Ravinia Festival
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Philip Langridge, tenor
Donald Kaasch, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Jan-Hendrik Rootering, bass
F. Murray Abraham, narrator
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on July 9 and 10, 1991. For Deutsche Grammophon, Christopher Adler was the producer, Gregor Zielinsky was the balance engineer, Klaus Behrens and Wolf-Dieter Karwatky were the recording engineers, and Reinhard Lagemann was the editor. 

February 26, 27, 28, and 29, 1992, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Garrin, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Lucy Ding, director
Zubin Mehta, conductor

November 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1994, Orchestra Hall
CHAUSSON Poem of Love and the Sea, Op. 19
Antonio Pappano, conductor

May 30, 31, and June 1, 1996, Medinah Temple
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Sharon Sweet, soprano
Marvis Martin, soprano
Ying Huang, soprano
Janis Taylor, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Richard Zeller, baritone
Eric Halfvarson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Waukegan Concert Chorus
Don Horisberger, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Sandra Prodan Murphy, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

July 23, 1996, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Shinobu Satoh, soprano
Richard Leech, tenor
Roberto Scandiuzzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

August 7, 1999, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

June 30, 2001, Ravinia Festival
VERDI Requiem
Adina Nitescu, soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
John Relyea, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Happy, happy birthday!

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1967 London Records program book advertisement

Wishing a wonderfully happy eighty-fifth birthday to the legendary American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne!

Over the course of nearly forty years—between 1965 and 2002—Horne has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of occasions in concert and on recording, indicated below:

September 23 and 24, 1965, Orchestra Hall
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Richard Verreau, tenor
Ezio Flagello, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Chicago Children’s Choir
Christopher Moore, director
Jean Martinon, conductor

June 2, 1967, Orchestra Hall
ROSSINI The Italian Girl in Algiers
Isabella Marilyn Horne, soprano
Mustafa Ezio Flagello, bass
Taddeo Theodor Uppman, baritone
Lindoro Ken Remo, tenor
Elvira Teresa Orantes, soprano
Zulma Carol Cornelisen, mezzo-soprano
Haly Charles Van Tasssel, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Ronald Schweitzer, assistant director
Henry Lewis, conductor

July 9, 1983, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
ROSSINI Non temer d’un basso affetto from The Siege of Corinth
ROSSINI Overture to The Silken Ladder
ROSSINI Assisa a piè d’un salice from Otello
ROSSINI Overture to Semiramide
ROSSINI Mura felici from The Lady of the Lake
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
James Levine, conductor

August 18, 1984, Ravinia Festival
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
James McCracken, tenor
James Conlon, conductor

July 20, 1986, Ravinia Festival
ROSSINI Overture to William Tell
ROSSINI Oh! patria! . . . Tu che accendi . . . Di tanti palpiti from Tancredi
ROSSINI Overture to The Silken Ladder
ROSSINI Da te spero, oh ciel clemente from Zelmira
ROSSINI Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers
ROSSINI Deh, lasciate . . . Beviam, tocchiamo a gara from The Silken Ladder
SAINT-SAËNS Printemps qui commence from Samson and Delilah
THOMAS Overture to Mignon
THOMAS C’est moi, j’ai tout brise . . . Me voici dans son boudoir from Mignon
MASSENET Meditation from Thaïs
Samuel Magad, violin
GOUNOD Ou suis-je? O ma lyre immortelle from Sapho
COPLAND Hoedown from Rodeo
NILES Go ’way from my window
FOSTER/Cullen If you’ve only got a moustache
TRADITIONAL/Copland At the River
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Henry Lewis, conductor

Marilyn Horne (Marty Umans photo)

July 4, 1992, Ravinia Festival
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25 (Classical)
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64
Sarah Chang, violin
COHAN/Davis You’re a Grand Old Flag
TRADITIONAL/Davis Shenandoah
TRADITIONAL/Matthews Billy Boy
FOSTER/Tunick Beautiful Dreamer
FOSTER/Cullen If you’ve only got a moustache
FOSTER/Matthews I Dream of Jeannie
FOSTER/Cullen Camptown Races
TRADITIONAL/Davis I’ve Just Come from the Fountain
MALOTTE/Davis The Lord’s Prayer
TRADITIONAL/Matthews When Johnny Comes Marching Home
BRYAN-PIANTADOSE/Davis I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier
TRADITIONAL/Davis Battle Hymn of the Republic
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Cheryl Frazes Hill, assistant director
James Levine, conductor
Radio broadcast recordings of Camptown Races and I’ve Just Come from the Fountain were released in 2008 on Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration (From the Archives, vol. 22).

July 28, 2002, Ravinia Festival
Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein
Selections from Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, Victory at Sea, The King and I, and The Sound of Music
Sylvia McNair, soprano
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Rodney Gilfry, baritone
John Raitt, baritone
John Mauceri, conductor

Horne also commercially recorded with Orchestra and Chorus, on two notable occasions:

MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director
James Levine, conductor
Recorded by RCA on July 21, 22, and 23, 1975, in Medinah Temple. The recording was produced by Thomas Z. Shepard and Jay David Saks, and Paul Goodman was the recording engineer. The Orchestra and Chorus also performed the work at the Ravinia Festival on July 13, 1975; Beverly Wolff was soloist.

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Carol Neblett, soprano
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon on February 13 and 16, 1976, in Medinah Temple. The recording was produced by Rainer Brock, and Heinz Wildhagen was the balance engineer. The Orchestra and Chorus also performed the work in Orchestra Hall on February 12 and 14, 1976; Neblett and Claudine Carlson were soloists. 

November 28, 1999

On November 28, 1999, Horne and her longtime collaborator Martin Katz gave a recital at Orchestra Hall. Just before the final encores, she announced from the stage, “Today I sing my last classical recital. . . . I’ll still be around from time to time [but] one thing you cannot do is stop the march of time.”

“Perhaps not,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. “But time has been on the side of this great and treasurable artist. She has sung everything she ever wanted to sing in every major opera house and concert hall. She has been at the forefront of the modern Handel and Rossini revivals. She has long held the mantle of the world’s foremost mistress of bel canto. Her place in history as one of the all-time great singers is secure.”

Happy, happy birthday!

Norman Schweikert in 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Norman Schweikert, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section from 1971 until 1997, who passed away at his home on Washington Island, Wisconsin on December 31, 2018, after a brief illness. He was 81.

A native of Los Angeles, Schweikert began piano lessons at the age of six, added violin soon after, and turned to the horn at age thirteen. His first horn teachers were Odolindo Perissi and Sinclair Lott, both members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During high school, Schweikert won a scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival, where he studied with Joseph Eger. In 1955, he auditioned for Erich Leinsdorf, then music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and won his first professional post as fourth horn there. He was its youngest member and in succeeding years played second and third horn.

While in Rochester, Schweikert attended the Eastman School of Music and performed and recorded with the Eastman Wind Ensemble under Frederick Fennell. Studying with Morris Secon and Verne Reynolds, he graduated in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree and a performer’s certificate in horn. During his eleven-year tenure in Rochester, Schweikert served three years with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point as well as five years on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Academy as instructor of horn and a member of the Interlochen Arts Quintet.

In June 1971—at the invitation of music director Georg Solti—Schweikert joined the Chicago Symphony as assistant principal horn, just in time for the Orchestra’s first tour to Europe. In 1975, he was named second horn, the position he held until his retirement in 1997 (he continued to play as a substitute or extra until June 2006). Schweikert appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra on a number of occasions, and in March 1977 he—along with colleagues Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, and Thomas Howell—was soloist in the recording of Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns under the baton of Daniel Barenboim for Deutsche Grammophon.

In 1970, Schweikert chaired the International Horn Society’s organizing committee and served as its first secretary and treasurer. He continued on the advisory council, contributed many articles to The Horn Call, and was elected an honorary member in 1996. From 1973 until 1998, Schweikert served as associate professor of horn on the faculty of Northwestern University.

In his retirement, Schweikert and his wife Sally—a thirty-year veteran of the Chicago Symphony Chorus—made their home on Washington Island in Wisconsin, where he performed with the Washington Island Music Festival. They were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association, regularly attending annual reunions. Schweikert also continued his research into the lives of U.S. orchestra members, a project that he started while studying at Eastman, and his collection of material on the subject is likely the largest private collection of its kind in the world. In 2012, Schweikert’s book The Horns of Valhalla—the story of horn players Josef and Xaver Reiter—was published by WindSong Press Limited.

Schweikert is survived by Sally, his beloved wife of fifty-seven years; and their son Eric, principal timpani of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Details for a memorial service are pending.

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the fantastic Australian mezzo-soprano, Yvonne Minton!

Minton has appeared as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions—in concert and on recording—between 1970 and 1981, indicated below:

April 2 and 3, 1970, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London Records on April 1 and 7, 1970, in Orchestra Hall. The recording was produced by David Harvey; Gordon Parry and James Lock were the balance engineers.

April 1 and 7, 1970 (recording sessions only, no public performances)
MAHLER Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (“Das irdische Leben,” “Verlorne Müh’,” “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen,” and “Rheinlegendchen”)
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London Records in Orchestra Hall. The recording was produced by David Harvey; Gordon Parry and James Lock were the balance engineers.

May 4, 5, and 6, 1972, Orchestra Hall
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
René Kollo, tenor
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London Records on May 8 and 9, 1972, at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The recording was produced by David Harvey; Kenneth Wilkinson and Gordon Parry were the balance engineers.

May 12 and 13, 1972, Orchestra Hall
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Pilar Lorengar, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
René Kollo, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by London Records on May 15, 16, and 26, 1972, at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The recording was produced by David Harvey; Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock were the balance engineers. This recording was ultimately released as part of a set of Beethoven’s complete symphonies (along with three overtures: Egmont, Coriolan, and Leonore no. 3); that set won the 1975 Grammy Award for Classical Album of the Year from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

April 24 and 26, 1975, Orchestra Hall
April 30, 1975, Carnegie Hall
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 5, 6, and 7, 1977, Orchestra Hall
May 13, 1977, Carnegie Hall
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
The work was recorded in Chicago’s Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977. For London Records, Ray Minshull was the producer and Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981, Orchestra Hall
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
The work was recorded in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981. For Deutsche Grammophon, Steven Paul was the executive producer, Werner Mayer the recording producer, and Klaus Scheibe was the balance engineer and editor. 

Happy, happy birthday!

On August 25, 2018, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra joins the music world in celebrating the centennial of composer, conductor, pianist, author, and lecturer Leonard Bernstein, who was, according to John von Rhein, “one of the most phenomenally gifted and successful Renaissance men of music in American history.”

Shortly after his remarkable debut—replacing an ailing Bruno Walter—with the New York Philharmonic on November 14, 1943, Bernstein first appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on July 4, 1944. The “much discussed young conductor . . . drew 4,100 people to Ravinia last night,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune. “It was Mr. Bernstein’s concert. . . . The eye and the ear inevitably gravitated to the slight young figure on the podium, a dark young man with a sensitive, sensuous face a little like David Lichine’s, hands that gyrate so convulsively they scarcely could hold a baton if they tried, and eyes that somehow manage to be agonized, supplicant, and truculent without losing their place in the score. A fascinating fellow, this Bernstein, dynamic, emotional, yet under complete control.”

Bernstein appeared with the Orchestra on several occasions in Orchestra Hall, at the Ravinia Festival, and in Milwaukee and New York City, as follows:

July 4, 1944, Ravinia Festival
BEETHOVEN Overture to Egmont, Op. 84
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Joseph Szigeti, violin
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 39

July 6, 1944, Ravinia Festival
TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Leonard Bernstein, piano
Herman Felber, Jr., conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

July 8, 1944, Ravinia Festival
BARTÓK Rhapsody No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra
Joseph Szigeti, violin
MOZART Serenade in G Major, K. 525 (Eine kleine Nachtmusik)
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major, K. 218
Joseph Szigeti, violin
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird

July 9, 1944, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah)
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
COPLAND Suite from Our Town
ROSSINI “Non più mesta” from La Cenerentola
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
ROSSINI Overture to La gazza ladra
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 39

July 31, 1945, Ravinia Festival
BRAHMS Academic Festival Overture in C Minor, Op. 80
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Leon Fleisher, piano
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47

August 2, 1945, Ravinia Festival
CASADESUS/Steinberg Concerto in D Major
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

August 4, 1945, Ravinia Festival
COPLAND El salón México
FRANCK Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra
Leon Fleisher, piano
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Leon Fleisher, piano
MOZART Symphony No. 38 in D Major, K. 504 (Prague)

August 5, 1945, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Suite from Fancy Free
HAYDN Symphony No. 85 in B-flat Major (La reine)
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47

January 1951

January 18, 19, and 23, 1951, Orchestra Hall
January 22, 1951, Pabst Theater, Milwaukee
HAYDN Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major
RAVEL Piano Concerto in G Major
Leonard Bernstein, piano and conductor
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

January 25 and 26, 1951, Orchestra Hall
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
René Rateau, flute
John Weicher, violin
Leonard Bernstein, piano and conductor
MAHLER Symphony No 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Alyne Dumas Lee, soprano
Ruth Slater, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Musical College Chorus
Christian Choral Club
James Baar, director

July 26, 1956, Ravinia Festival
CASADESUS/Steinberg Andante lento molto from Concerto in D Major
BERNSTEIN Serenade
Vladimir Spivakovsky, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

July 27, 1956, Ravinia Festival
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2 (The Age of Anxiety)
Byron Janis, piano
MOZART Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

July 28, 1956, Ravinia Festival
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
Ernst Liegl, flute
John Weicher, violin
Leonard Bernstein, piano and conductor
BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah)
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
MOZART “Zeffiretti lusinghiere” from Idomeneo, K. 366
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
MOZART “Ch’io mi scordi di te?”, K. 505
Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano
Leonard Bernstein, piano and conductor
STRAVINSKY Suite from The Firebird

Leonard Bernstein in rehearsal with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in June 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

June 16 and 17, 1988, Orchestra Hall
STRAUSS Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24
John Fiore, conductor
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
Kate Tamarkin, conductor
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
Leif Bjaland, conductor
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 1, Op. 10
Bjaland, Fiore, and Tamarkin appeared in conjunction with the 1988 American Conductors Program for which Bernstein was the artistic advisor. A joint project of the American Symphony Orchestra League and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the program was made possible through the generous support of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

June 21 and 22, 1988, Orchestra Hall
June 24, 1988, Avery Fisher Hall, New York
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 7, Op. 60 (Leningrad)

“I cannot recall a season finale of recent years, in fact, that sent the audience home on such a tidal wave of euphoria, and for so many of the right reasons,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune, following the first performance of the Leningrad Symphony on June 21. “Indeed, the conductor was constantly pushing the music beyond the rhetorical brink, then drawing back when things threatened to go over the top. Of course, he had the world’s greatest Shostakovich brass section at his ready command. The augmented brasses blared with magnificent menace, the violins sounded their unison recitatives with vehement intensity. And the woodwinds, with their always crisp and characterful playing, reminded us of the many poetic, soft sections that separate the bombastic outbursts.”

Both of Shostakovich’s symphonies were recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon and the subsequent release received the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony were given on April 6 and 7, 1950, in Orchestra Hall under the baton of guest conductor George Szell. Since then, the work has been led by music directors Rafael Kubelík, Sir Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; principal guest conductors Carlo Maria Giulini and Pierre Boulez; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and James Conlon; along with guest conductors Sir John Barbirolli, Lawrence Foster, Michiyoshi Inoue, Hans Rosbaud, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

The Orchestra has recorded the work on three notable occasions, as follows.

Carlo Maria Giulini, the Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor, led Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in December 1971 and March 1975 before returning in April 1976 to perform and record the work. Following the first concert of that residency, Karen Monson in the Chicago Daily News wrote that “each time the aristocratic maestro meets the transcendent symphony, the relationship becomes more and more special, Giulini and the Orchestra have delved into the deepest secrets of this music, and Thursday evening they delivered a performance so rich and complete . . .”

In the Chicago Tribune, Thomas Willis called the performance “one of Giulini’s great nights in Orchestra Hall.” Recording sessions were scheduled for the following week, and “by the time the tape is rolling, this could be the most heartfelt and compelling recorded version of Mahler’s grief-stricken penultimate symphony. . . . The Chicago Symphony players will take any risks for Giulini. If he wishes them to play softer than soft, applying bow to string, or breath to mouthpiece or reed, they proceed to just this side of bobble or discomfiting silence. . . . No other guest has such control over orchestral color and emotional variation.”

Deutsche Grammophon was on hand on April 5 and 6, 1976, to record the symphony in Medinah Temple. Günther Breest was the executive producer and Klaus Scheibe the recording engineer. The release won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Classical Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti first led the Orchestra in Mahler’s symphony at Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall in April 1981 before taking it on the road to Lucerne, Paris, Amsterdam, and London later that year. Back in Chicago, Solti led a concert performance (benefiting the musicians’ pension fund) on April 28, 1982, and recorded the symphony on May 2 and 4 in Orchestra Hall.

Reviewing in Gramophone magazine, Richard Osborne noted: “When Solti conducted Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in London in the autumn of 1981 the critic of The Financial Times observed: ‘Solti obviously knew how this music should gobut not why.’ Such a reading would be an evident act of self-parody, for it is to this very theme—the modern world’s nightmarish preoccupation with sensation, spiraling, self-referring and impossible to assuage—that Mahler so fearlessly addresses himself in the symphony’s third movement, the Rondo Burleske. It’s clear, though, from the present recording, made in Orchestra Hall, Chicago in May 1982, that Solti’s sense of the music is a good deal more rooted than it appeared to be amid the unsettling razzmatazz of an end-of-tour London performance.

“The new performance has a measure of repose about it as well as much splendour. The second movement is robust and resilient as Mahler directs. There is defiance and obstinacy in the third movement, an awful power which illuminates the music rather than the orchestra’s known expertise.”

James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock was the engineer for London Records. The recording won 1983 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Recording, Best Engineered Recording—Classical, and Best Classical Album.

Soon after being named as the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, Pierre Boulez was in Chicago to lead four performances of Mahler’s Ninth in November December 1995.

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma wrote that Boulez led “one of classical music’s most profound meditations on relentless death and tumultuous life” as a “study in musical clarity, elegant balances, and proportion. . . . Many conductors play up the contrasts, creating dramatic mood shifts. Boulez and the CSO were after something more subtle.” John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune added that Boulez “[filtered] the work through his own modernist sensibility. Granted, there are ambiguities and uncertainties in this symphony that resist so rational an approach. But there are also levels of purely musical meaning few other conductors have uncovered. The otherworldly stillnesses, the demonic humor, the desolate nostalgia, the strange lapses into folkish banality registered that much more strongly because the hand organizing them was so calm and precise. . . . Let us hope the studio sessions capture in full the splendor of the live performances.”

For Deutsche Grammophon, the work was recorded at Medinah Temple on December 2 and 4, 1995. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler recording producer and editor, Ulrich Vette was the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Stephan Flock were recording engineers. The release won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony no. 9 on May 17, 18, 19, and 22, 2018.

Under the leadership of chorus directors Margaret Hillis and Duain Wolfe, the Chicago Symphony Chorus has won ten Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Choral Performance.*

Recordings have been led by music directors Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Muti, principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez, and Ravinia Festival music director James Levine on RCA, London, Deutsche Grammophon, and CSO Resound.

1977 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer

1978 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 16, 17, and 18, 1977, for London
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes, balance engineers

1979 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 15 and 16, 1978, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and Colin Moorfoot, balance engineers

1982 – Best Choral Performance–Classical
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Kenneth Riegel, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple on May 4, 5, 6, and 7, 1981, for London
James Mallinson, recording producer
James Lock and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1983 – Best Choral Performance
HAYDN The Creation
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia Greenberg, soprano
Norma Burrowes, soprano
Rudiger Wohlers, tenor
James Morris, bass-baritone
Siegmund Nimsgern, bass
David Schrader, harpsichord
Frank Miller, cello
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on November 9, 10, and 11, 1981, for London
Paul Myers, recording producer
James Lock and John Dunkerley, balance engineers

1984 – Best Choral Performance
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
James Levine, conductor
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Håkan Hagegård, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 5 and 6, 1983, for RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard, producer
Paul Goodman, recording engineer
John Newton and Thomas MacCluskey, engineers

1986 – Best Choral Performance
ORFF Carmina burana
James Levine, conductor
June Anderson, soprano
Philip Creech, tenor
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon
Steven Paul, producer
Cord Garben, recording supervisor
Klaus Scheibe, recording engineer
Jürgen Bulgrin, editing

1991 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BACH Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Felicity Lott, soprano
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor
William Shimmell, baritone
Gwynne Howell, bass
Richard Webster, organ
John Sharp, cello
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Joseph Guastafeste, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 25, 26, and 28, 1990, for London
Michael Haas, recording producer
Stanley Goodall and Simon Eadon, balance engineers

1993 – Best Performance of a Choral Work
BARTÓK Cantata profana
Pierre Boulez, conductor
John Aler, tenor
John Tomlinson, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on December 16, 1991, for Deutsche Grammophon
Alison Ames, executive producer
Karl-August Naegler, recording producer
Rainer Maillard, balance engineer
Oliver Rosalla, editing

2010 – Best Choral Performance
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, for CSO Resound
Christopher Alder, producer
Christopher Willis, recording engineer
David Frost and Tom Lazarus, mixing
Silas Brown and David Frost, stereo mastering

*The name of the category has changed slightly over the years; see here for details.

Title page for the first printed edition of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

Guest conductor George Szell led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first performances of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on December 2 and 3, 1948, almost exactly four years following the work’s premiere on December 1, 1944, with Serge Koussevitzky leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In the Chicago Daily News, Clarence Joseph Bulliet called the work, “violent and awesome in its contrasts, sometimes as stormy as the most sensational of modern music. Then it calmed down to rival in delicacy the classicism of Haydn and Beethoven between which it was programmed at Orchestra Hall Thursday night.” (Haydn’s Oxford Symphony opened the concert, followed by the Bartók and Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, that featured the debut of Seymour Lipkin.) Felix Borowski, writing for the Chicago Sun, added, that Bartók’s Concerto was, “of more than ordinary worth . . . Modern, indeed it is, but there are ideas—often very beautiful ideas—in the course of it. The orchestration is rich and colorful, frequently with new and beguiling textures.”

Early in his tenure as sixth music director, Fritz Reiner first led the Orchestra in his friend and countryman’s work on October 13 and 15, 1955. “This wonderful score, a network of nerves spun and controlled by the most brilliant of nervous energies, was played as only great orchestras can play,” wrote Claudia Cassidy in the Chicago Tribune. “It is a superb work and a Reiner triumph.”

The following week, Reiner and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc on October 22; for RCA, Richard Mohr was the producer and Lewis Layton the recording engineer. In February 2016, Gramophone listed this release as one of the “finest recordings of Bartók’s music,” noting the “sheer fervour of Reiner’s direction . . . taut and agile . . . [his] precision and control is immediately apparent.”

The Orchestra has since recorded the work on five additional occasions, as follows:

During his year as principal conductor of the Ravinia Festival, Seiji Ozawa recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on June 30 and July 1, 1969, for AngelPeter Andry was the executive producer, Richard C. Jones the producer, and Carson Taylor was the recording engineer. Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti conducted the Concerto for London on January 19 and 20, 1981, in Orchestra Hall. James Mallinson was the producer and James Lock the balance engineer.

James Levine, Ravinia’s second music director, led sessions in Orchestra Hall on June 28, 1989, for Deutsche Grammophon. Steven Paul was executive producer, Christopher Alder the recording producer, and Gregor Zielinsky was balance engineer. During the 1990 tour to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Austria, Solti conducted the Orchestra in an all-Bartók program, video recorded at the Budapest Convention Centre on November 28, 1990, for London. Humphrey Burton directed the production, and Katya Krausova was producer, Eric Abraham the executive producer, and Michael Haas the audio producer.

Most recently, Pierre Boulez recorded the work in Orchestra Hall on November 30, 1992, for Deutsche Grammophon. Roger Wright was the executive producer, Karl-August Naegler the recording producer, Rainer Maillard the balance engineer, and Jobst Eberhardt and Reinhild Schmidt were recording engineers. The release won 1994 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.

Guest conductor Rafael Payare makes his subscription concert debut leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra on January 18 and 20, 2018.

Daniel Barenboim (Don Getsug photo)

Wishing a very happy seventy-fifth birthday to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, Daniel Barenboim!

Before and during his tenure as music director, Barenboim led the Orchestra on numerous international tours (see here, here, here, and here); made dozens of recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, and Teldec, in addition to other labels; conducted over thirty world and U.S. premieres; and was a frequent chamber music collaborator and recitalist.

From all of your friends here in Chicago, we wish you a happy, happy birthday, Maestro!

This article also appears here.

In addition to releases with Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, and Teldec, Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra made commercial recordings on several other labels. A complete list is below (all recordings made in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

Barenboim and du Pré at Medinah Temple on November 11, 1970 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

Barenboim made his conducting debut with the Orchestra on November 4, 1970, on a concert at Michigan State University. The first work on that first program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, and the soloist was Barenboim’s wife, Jacqueline du Pré. One week later, they recorded the work—along with the same composer’s Silent Woods—with the Orchestra at Medinah Temple.

DVOŘÁK Concerto for Cello in B Minor, Op. 104
DVOŘÁK Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 68
Jacqueline du Pré, cello
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple on November 11, 1970
Angel Records

On January 26, 1998, in Orchestra Hall, Barenboim led—from the podium and the keyboard—a special concert called Star-Crossed Lovers, featuring Renée Fleming and Plácido Domingo in songs, arias, and duets along with narrators Lynn Redgrave and Timothy Dalton. The concert was recorded for a Great Performances telecast and a London Records release.

Domingo and Fleming on January 26, 1998 (Dan Rest photo)

BERNSTEIN Prologue, Tonight, Rumble, and Somewhere from West Side Story
ELLINGTON In a sentimental mood, Do nothin’ till you hear from me, and Prelude to a kiss
GARDEL El día que me quieras
GOUNOD Il se fait tard . . . Ô nuit d’amour! from Faust
LEHÁR Dein ist mein ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
LEHÁR Lippen schweigen from The Merry Widow
MORENO-TORROBA ¡Quisiera verte y no verte! and Jota castellana
VERDI Già nella notte densa from Otello
Renée Fleming, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Daniel Barenboim, piano and conductor
Recorded January 26, 1998
London Records

Barenboim led the Orchestra in the world premiere of composer-in-residence Shulamit Ran’s Legends in October 1993 and programmed the work again in June 2004. A recording of the second set of performances—along with Ran’s Violin Concerto, performed by Ittai Shapira with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Charles Hazlewood—was released by Albany Records in 2007.

RAN Legends
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded June 3, 4, 5, and 8, 2004
Albany Records

Three videos featuring the Orchestra and Barenboim, performing at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany, were also released, on the Arthaus Musik and EuroArts labels.

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on June 4 and 5, 1997
Arthaus Musik

SIBELIUS Concerto for Violin in D Minor, Op. 47
*BACH Sarabande from Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
*YSAŸE Ballad from Sonata No. 3 in D Minor
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Plácido Domingo, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on June 8 and 9, 1997
*Solo encores performed by Vengerov
Arthaus Musik

BOULEZ Notations for Orchestra I-IV
DEBUSSY La mer
FALLA The Three-Cornered Hat
*MORES/Carli El firulete
Elisabete Matos, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany on April 27 and 28, 2001
*Performed as an encore
EuroArts

In conjunction with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s annual Symphonython (previously Marathon and Radiothon) fundraiser, a themed collection of radio broadcasts was offered as a donation premium. Several works led by Barenboim were included on various sets, and one collection was dedicated solely to him.

Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration
From the Archives, vol. 13 (1998)

BACH Singet dem Herr nein neues Lied, BWV 225
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 11 and 14, 1991

SCHUBERT Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, D. 714
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 9, 1991

Beethoven
From the Archives, vol. 17 (2003)

BEETHOVEN Elegy, Op. 118
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe and Cheryl Frazes Hill, directors
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 17, 1994

A Tribute to Daniel Barenboim
From the Archives, vol. 20 (2006)

BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 15, 1997

BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah)
Birgitta Svendén, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 15 and 16, 1996

FALLA El amor brujo
Jennifer Larmore, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 22, 1997

HAYDN Symphony No. 48 in C Major (Maria Theresa)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded May 20, 1993

MONIUSZKO Mazurka from Halka
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park, September 21, 1991

MORES/Carli El firulete
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 15, 2001

MOZART Finale Scene from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Lella Cuberli, Joan Rodgers, Dawn Kotoski, sopranos
Cecilia Bartoli, Mimi Lerner, mezzo-sopranos
Graham Clark, tenor
Ferruccio Furlanetto, Michele Pertusi, Peter Rose, Günther von Kannen, basses
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 2, 7, and 12, 1992

SCHUBERT Psalm 23, D. 706
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Recorded October 3, 1996

THOMAS Ceremonial
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 6, 2000

WAGNER A Faust Overture
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 18, 1991

WOLF Der Feurreiter
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe and Cheryl Frazes Hill, directors
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded September 17, 1994

Soloists of the Orchestra III
From the Archives, vol. 21

FISHER/Gould Chicago
Larry Combs, clarinet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Petrillo Music Shell, September 1991

BOULEZ Messagesquisse for Seven Cellos
John Sharp, solo cello
Stephen Balderston, Phillip Blum, Loren Brown, Richard Hirschl, Jonathan Pegis, and Gary Stucka, cellos
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
September 22, 1994

Additionally, two large collections of radio broadcast material were released as commercial recordings: a twelve-disc set to celebrate the the Orchestra’s centennial in 1990 and a ten-disc set as a retrospective of the twentieth century in 2000.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The First 100 Years (1990)

SCRIABIN Symphony No. 4, Op. 54 (The Poem of Ecstasy)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13, 14, and 16, 1984

BRAHMS Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded November 28, 1977

RAN Concerto for Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded October 20, 22, and 25, 1988

Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Twentieth Century: Collector’s Choice (2000)

BUSONI Lustspiel Overture, Op. 38
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded January 4, 1996

MOZART/Busoni Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 284
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 8, 1996

BEETHOVEN Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85
Laura Aikin, soprano
Ben Heppner, tenor
René Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 15 and 16, 1996

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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