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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.

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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

Between 1972 and 1981, Daniel Barenboim made a number of recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, returning to the label in 2003 for a release of piano concertos with Lang Lang.

A complete list of Barenboim’s catalog with the CSO on Deutsche Grammophon is below (all recordings were made in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 61
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 26, 1977

BORODIN Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1977

BRAHMS Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3, and 10
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

BRUCKNER Helgoland
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

Barenboim leads the Orchestra and Chorus in a recording session for Bruckner’s Psalm 150 in Orchestra Hall on March 3, 1979 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

BRUCKNER Psalm 150
Ruth Welting, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 0 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 9, 10, and 13, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1981

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13 and 15, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, November 1, 1972

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 6 and 7, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 6 and 9, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

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
Recorded March 28, 1981

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 1 in C Major, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G Minor, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

ELGAR Concerto for Violin in B Minor, Op. 61
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 23 and 24, 1981
1982 Grammy Award: Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist

LISZT Les préludes
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Piano in G Minor, Op. 25
Lang Lang, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 24 and 25, 2003

MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 7 and 10, 1979

MOZART Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bald Mountain
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

NICOLAI Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 (Organ)
Gaston Litaize, organ (recorded at the Cathédral Notre-Dame de Chartres, France)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

SCHUMANN Konzertstück for Four Horns in F Major, Op. 86
Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, Thomas Howell, and Norman Schweikert, horns
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

Barenboim leads CSO horns Norman Schweikert, Thomas Howell, Richard Oldberg, and Dale Clevenger in a recording session for Schumann’s Konzertstück in Orchestra Hall in March 1977 (Christian Steiner photo)

SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 28, 1975

SMETANA The Moldau from Má vlast
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27 and 28, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Concerto for Piano No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Lang Lang, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 21 and 24, 2003

TCHAIKOVSKY Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25 and 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

Arnold Jacobs, CSO principal tuba from 1944 until 1988

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Bass Tuba in F Minor
Arnold Jacobs, tuba
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

WEBER/Berlioz Invitation to the Dance, Op, 65
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

WEBER Overture to Oberon
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3 and 7, 1979

Samuel Ramey (Christian Steiner photo)

Wishing the happiest of (slightly belated) birthdays to the remarkable American bass Samuel Ramey, who celebrated his seventh-fifth on March 28!

The legendary singer has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of notable occasions, both in Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival. A complete list of his performances with the Orchestra is below (all concerts at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted):

March 26, 27, and 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Te Deum
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded by Deutsche Grammophon in Orchestra Hall on March 28, 1981

November 1, 2, and 4, 1984
MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Ruggero Raimondi, bass
Zehava Gal, mezzo-soprano
Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Jennifer Jones, mezzo-soprano
Philip Langridge, tenor
Hartmut Welker, baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
Kaludi Kaludov, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Sergei Kopchak, bass
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
Bradley Nystrom, bass-baritone
Donald Kaasch, tenor
Paul Grizzell, bass
Dale Prest, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

November 16, 1986
VERDI Messa da Requiem
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Linda Finnie, mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, tenor
Ramey, Samuel; bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Gwynne Howell originally was scheduled to perform the bass part but canceled due to illness. He was replaced by Bonaldo Giaiotti on November 13 and 14 and Ramey on November 16.

Samuel Ramey (Steven Leonard photo)

June 23, 1989 (Ravinia Festival)
VERDI Messa da Requiem
James Levine, conductor
Andrea Gruber, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

October 6, 1990 (Centennial Gala)
BEETHOVEN Finale: Ode, “To Joy” from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Sylvia McNair, soprano
Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

July 8, 2000 (Ravinia Fesitval)
Selections by Copland, Leigh, Loewe, Mozart, Rodgers, and Verdi
Miguel-Harth Bedoya, conductor
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Samuel Ramey, bass

July 2, 2005 (Ravinia Festival)
IBERT Chansons de Don Quichotte
RAVEL Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
James Conlon, conductor

August 15, and 17, 2008 (Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Don Giovanni, K. 527
James Conlon, conductor
Ellie Dehn, soprano
Soile Isokoski, soprano
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
Toby Spence, tenor
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, bass-baritone
Samuel Ramey, bass
James Creswell, bass
Morris Robinson, bass
Apollo Chorus of Chicago
Stephen Alltop, director

Happy, happy birthday!

horowitz-cover

All of a sudden, Vladimir Horowitz is everywhere. Especially in Chicago.

In addition to Deutsche Grammophon releasing Horowitz: Return to Chicago, Sony Classical has issued a set of the pianist’s unreleased live recital recordings, covering thirteen programs recorded at twenty-five concerts in fourteen different venues between 1966 and 1983. And four of those concerts were recorded in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, on May 12, 1968; November 2, 1975; and April 8 and 15, 1979.

Program book cover for November 2, 1975

November 2, 1975, program book cover

These live recordings were made by Columbia Masterworks (1966–1968) and RCA Red Seal (1975–1983), and—with the exception of a few tracks released on compilation albums—the vast majority of the material has never been previously available. The fifty-disc set recently was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album.

“Vladimir Horowitz’s piano technique is so comprehensive that it diminishes everyone else,” wrote Thomas Willis in the Chicago Tribune, following the November 1975 performance, presented under the auspices of Allied Arts. “When he summons the power and clangor for bravura passages, the other powerhouses by comparison sound like lightweights. But when he relaxes into pellucid cascades of an impressionist Liszt tone poem, other light-fingered specialists seem to have developed fingers of lead. . . . Horowitz is not only in a class by himself, he is apparently indestructible. Ten years after his return to the concert stage, the seventy-one-year-old virtuoso has the endurance, the control, and the coiled-spring presence to make each appearance an unforgettable event. . . . Horowitz today is as much a giant as ever.”

November 2, 1975

November 2, 1975

In addition to the works on the program, the audience—including an extra 150 on the stage—demanded no less than six encores: Schumann’s Träumerei from Kinderszenen; Scarlatti’s Sonata in A major, K. 322; Moszkowski’s Étincelles; Chopin’s Black Key Etude in G-flat major, op. 10, no. 5 and Mazurka in A minor, op. 17, no. 4; and finally Rachmaninov’s Étude-Tableaux in D major, op. 39, no. 9. All are included on the release.

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Leonard Bernstein onstage with the Orchestra in June 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

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

Leonard Bernstein made several appearances with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival between 1944 and 1956, and he also conducted the Orchestra on two subscription weeks at Orchestra Hall in 1951. In June 1988, he returned to Chicago to act as artistic advisor for the American Conductors Program, a joint project of the American Symphony Orchestra League and selected major American orchestras. For the program, he coached three young conductors—Kate Tamarkin, Leif Bjaland, and John Fiore, all chosen following a nationwide competition—in works by Richard Strauss.

On the June 16 and 17 concerts with the Orchestra, Fiore conducted Death and Transfiguration, Tamarkin led Don Juan, and Bjaland conducted Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks. After intermission, Bernstein took the podium for Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 1, and the following week, he closed the Orchestra’s ninety-seventh season with Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony (Leningrad) on June 21 and 22.

Shostakovich 7

“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. “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.

This article also appears here.

MENDELSSOHN Wedding MarchThe commercial recording legacy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—under second music director Frederick Stock—began on May 1, 1916. For the Columbia Graphophone Company (at an undocumented location in Chicago), they recorded Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre; and Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies, Heart Wounds and The Last Spring.

Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Grieg’s The Last Spring were each on the first 80-rpm disc issued in October 1916, and a Columbia Records sales brochure raved, “The deepest glories vibrant in such a familiar composition as Mendelssohn’s Wedding March are unguessed until interpreted by such an orchestra as this. From the first trumpet fanfare to the great central crescendo is very joy and glory articulate! . . . There can be no pleasure beyond enjoying such music as the Chicago Symphony here brings to every music-loving home.”

Recording_Centennial_Rotunda_Display_102.75x60

To commemorate this legacy, this collage of record and CD labels is on display in the first floor of Symphony Center’s Rotunda through the end of the Orchestra’s current—the 125th—season. Details of all of the recordings included are below (all recordings were made at Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4-2Austrian pianist Artur Schnabel made his debut with the Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival on July 11, 1942, performing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with George Szell conducting. On July 22 and 24, Schnabel and the Orchestra recorded the Fourth along with Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto at Orchestra Hall for Victor Records. Frederick Stock conducted these, his last, recording sessions with the Orchestra; he died a few short months later on October 20.

PROKOFIEV Scythian Suite-2 WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod-2The Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the U.S. premiere of Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite under the baton of the composer on December 6, 1918. On March 16, 1945, third music director Désiré Defauw recorded the work for RCA.

Fourth music director Artur Rodzinski led the Orchestra in a complete performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde—with Set Svanholm and Kirsten Flagstad in the title roles—at the Civic Opera House on November 16, 1947. A month later on December 14, he led the Orchestra in recording sessions for the Prelude and Liebestod at Orchestra Hall.

STRAUSS Ein HeldenlebenMUSSORGSKY Pictures at an ExhibitionFor Mercury Records, fifth music director Rafael Kubelík led the Orchestra’s first recording of Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on April 23 and 24, 1951. Principal trumpet Adolph Herseth performed the opening fanfare.

On March 6, 1954, sixth music director Fritz Reiner and the Orchestra recorded together for the first time: Strauss’s Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and Ein Heldenleben for RCA. (Reiner’s complete CSO catalog recently was re-released by RCA.)

BARTOK Music for Strings, Percussion, and CelestaBRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2At the third annual Grammy awards ceremony on April 12, 1961, the Orchestra’s recording of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta received the award for Best Classical Performance–Orchestra. Reiner had conducted the RCA release. That same evening, the Orchestra’s recording of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto—also on RCA and with Erich Leinsdorf conducting—earned the award for Best Classical Performance–Concerto or Instrumental Soloist for Sviatoslav Richter. These were the first two Grammy awards earned for recordings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

SCHUMANN Piano ConcertoPROKOFIEV Alexander NevskyReiner led the Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Chorus (prepared by its founder Margaret Hillis), and mezzo-soprano Rosalind Elias in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky for RCA—the first recording collaboration with the Orchestra and the Chorus—on March 7, 1959, at Orchestra Hall.

Two years after winning the prestigious 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Van Cliburn made his first recording with the Orchestra on April 16, 1960: Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Reiner conducting for RCA. (A complete list of Cliburn’s appearances and recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found here.)

MARTIN Concerto for Seven WindsOn March 19, 1966, seventh music director Jean Martinon led the Orchestra in recording sessions for Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra for RCA. Featured soloists were CSO principals Clark Brody (clarinet), Willard Elliot (bassoon), Donald Peck (flute), Dale Clevenger (horn, in his first week on the job), Ray Still (oboe), Adolph Herseth (trumpet), Donald Koss (timpani), and Jay Friedman (trombone). (Martinon’s complete CSO catalog recently was re-released by RCA.)

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 6-2NIELSEN Clarinet Concerto-2Benny Goodman recorded Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with the Orchestra on June 18, 1966, for RCA. Morton Gould conducted. (Gould’s complete CSO catalog recently was re-released by RCA.)

At Medinah Temple on February 20 and 21, 1968, Leopold Stokowski and the Orchestra recorded Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 6  for RCA.

BERLIOZ Romeo and Juliet-2RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Sheherazade-2Carlo Maria Giulini—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first principal guest conductor—recorded selections from Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet for Angel on October 13 and 14, 1969, at Medinah Temple.

The Orchestra made its second recording of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade on June 30 and July 1, 1969, at Medinah Temple for Angel. Seiji Ozawa, the Ravinia Festival’s first music director, conducted and concertmaster Victor Aitay was violin soloist.

DVORAK Cello Concerto-2MAHLER Symphony no. 5During eighth music director Georg Solti‘s first season as music director, the Orchestra performed Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at Carnegie Hall on January 9, 1970, and were called back for twelve curtain calls. Beginning on March 26 at Medinah Temple, Solti and the Orchestra committed their performance to disc—their first recording together—for London Records.

Daniel Barenboim, who would later become ninth music director, made his first recording with the Orchestra on November 11, 1970, at Medinah Temple. For Angel, he led sessions for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with his wife Jacqueline du Pré as soloist. (A summary of du Pré’s association with the Orchestra is here.)

MAHLER Symphony No. 8-2Before the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed the first concert of its first tour to Europe in 1971, Solti led recording sessions for Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Sofiensaal in Vienna on August 30, 31, and September 1. Soloists included Heather HarperLucia Popp (more about Popp’s performances with the Orchestra is here), Arleen AugérYvonne MintonHelen WattsRené KolloJohn Shirley-Quirk, and Martti Talvela. The recording won three 1972 Grammy awards for Album of the Year–Classical, Best Choral Performance–Classical (other than opera) (for the Chorus of the Vienna State OperaSingverein Chorus, and Vienna Boys’ Choir), and Best Engineered Recording–Classical.

BEETHOVEN Fidelio BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6-2On December 13, 1977, Barenboim and the Orchestra recorded Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony for Deutsche Grammophon, part of a complete cycle of the composer’s symphonies that also included the Te Deum, Helgoland, and Psalm 150.

Following concerts in Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall, Solti led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (including Hildegard Behrens as Leonore and Peter Hofmann as Florestan) and in recording sessions for Beethoven’s Fidelio—”the first digitally recorded opera to be released,” according to Gramophone—at Medinah Temple on May 21, 22, 23, and 24, 1979.

ORFF Carmina Burana DOWNS Bear Down, Chicago BearsSecond music director of the Ravinia Festival, James Levine led the Orchestra, Chorus, Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, and soloists (June Anderson, Phillip Creech, and Bernd Weikl) in sessions for Orff’s Carmina burana on July 9 and 10, 1984, for Deutsche Grammophon. The recording was awarded the 1986 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera).

At the end of a subscription concert at Orchestra Hall on January 23, 1986, Solti led the Orchestra and Chorus in a spirited encore of  the Chicago Bears‘ fight song “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” in anticipation of the team’s Super Bowl victory. The day after the game, the work was recorded by London Records.

BRAHMS Double Concerto-2BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9-2Solti led recording sessions at Medinah Temple for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—the second time he and the Orchestra and Chorus had recorded the work—on September 28, 30, and October 7, 1986, for London. Soloists were Jessye Norman, Reinhild Runkel, Robert Schunk, and Hans Sotin. The release was awarded the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Claudio Abbado, second principal guest conductor, led the Orchestra in Brahms’s Double Concerto with Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma (future Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant) as soloists on November 7 and 8, 1986, for CBS Records.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 7CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1Closing the 97th season in June 1988, Leonard Bernstein led the Orchestra in performances of Shostakovich’s First and Seventh symphonies. Recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon, the release received the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

On March 15, 16, and 17, 1990, Barenboim led the world premiere performances of composer-in-residence John Corigliano’s Symphony no. 1, commissioned for the Orchestra. The live recording—Barenboim and the Orchestra’s first on the Erato label—was awarded two 1991 Grammy awards for Best Orchestral Performance and Best Contemporary Composition.

Fantasia 2000BARTOK The Wooden PrinceThe recording of Bartók’s The Wooden Prince and Cantata profana led by Pierre Boulez for Deutsche Grammophon—recorded on December 19, 20, and 21, 1991—was awarded four 1993 Grammy awards: Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Performance of a Choral Work, and Best Engineered Recording–Classical. (A complete list of Boulez’s recordings with the Orchestra is here and his complete Grammy awards are here.)

Between 1993 and 1996, Levine led the Orchestra and Chorus in recording sessions at Medinah Temple for Disney‘s feature film Fantasia 2000. The movie was released on January 1, 2000.

VARESE Amerique etcFALLA Gardens of SpainShortly after being named the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, Boulez led sessions for Varèse’s Amériques, Arcana, Déserts, and Ionisation in December 1995 and 1996. The Deutsche Grammophon release was awarded the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

In May 1997 at Medinah Temple, the Orchestra recorded Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain and The Three-Cornered Hat for Teldec. For Nights in the Gardens of Spain, Barenboim was piano soloist and Plácido Domingo conducted; for The Three-Cornered Hat, Jennifer Larmore was mezzo-soprano soloist and Barenboim conducted.

MAHLER Symphony no. 3BRAHMS Violin ConcertoA former Youth Auditions winner and member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Rachel Barton recorded Brahms’s and Joachim’s violin concertos for Cedille Records on July 2 and 3, 2002. Carlos Kalmar conducted.

In his first concerts as principal conductor on October 19, 20, and 21, 2006, Bernard Haitink led the Orchestra, women of the Chorus (prepared by Duain Wolfe), the Chicago Children’s Choir, and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung in Mahler’s Third Symphony. The work is recorded as the inaugural release on CSO Resound.

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 4CSOR_SP_booklet_rainbow_nobox.inddIn May 2008, Haitink and the Orchestra recorded Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony for CSO Resound. The release was awarded the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Boulez led the Orchestra in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Symphony in Three Movements, and Four Studies in February and March 2009 for CSO Resound. Soloists in the Pulcinella were Roxana Constantinescu, Nicholas Phan, and Kyle Ketelsen.

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastiqueVR_booklet_CSOR_901_1008.inddOn January 15, 16, and 17, 2009, Riccardo Muti—in his first concerts as music director designate—led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (Barbara FrittoliOlga Borodina, Mario Zeffiri, and Ildar Abdrazakov) in Verdi’s Requiem. The subsequent CSO Resound recording was awarded 2010 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance.

Following his first concert as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s tenth music director (for more than 25,000 people in Millennium Park) in September 2010, Muti led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists (Gérard Depardieu, Mario Zeffiri, and Kyle Ketelsen) in Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Lélio. The two-disc set was released on CSO Resound in September 2015.

VERDI OtelloBates and ClyneOn April 7, 9, and 12, 2011, Muti led concert performances—recorded by CSO Resound—of Verdi’s Otello at Orchestra Hall. Along with the Orchestra, Chorus, and Chicago Children’s Chorus, soloists included Aleksandrs Antonenko in the title role, Krassimira Stoyanova as Desdemona, and Carlo Guelfi as Iago.

In February 2012, Muti led world premieres by the Orchestra’s Mead Composers-in-Residence: Anna Clyne’s Night Ferry and Mason Bates’s Alternative Energy. Both works were recorded for CSO Resound and released as digital downloads.

LincolnFor Sony Classical, composer John Williams led the Orchestra and Chorus in recording sessions at Orchestra Hall for his soundtrack for the motion picture Lincoln. Director Steven Spielberg was on hand to supervise.

Cheers to the next 100!

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James Levine in the early 1970s (Metropolitan Opera photo)

James Levine in the early 1970s (Metropolitan Opera photo)

As a last-minute replacement conductor for the opening concert of the Ravinia Festival’s thirty-sixth season on June 24, 1971, James Levine led the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists in Mahler’s Second Symphony. Having just made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera leading Puccini’s Tosca on June 5, he conducted both the rehearsals and the performance of the Mahler without a score.

In the Chicago Daily News, Bernard Jacobson reported that the reverberations of Mahler’s symphony “were matched at the end of the performance by the ovation that greeted conductor James Levine. And indeed, this gifted twenty-eight-year-old musician earned every last resounding cheer. He had taken the concert over at a week’s notice from István Kertész (who was himself a replacement for the originally scheduled Eugene Ormandy), and everything he did was proof of thorough preparation, fine artistic judgment, and the ability to communicate ideas to an orchestra and, through it, to the audience.”

By February 1972, the Metropolitan announced that Levine would become its first principal conductor, and that October, Ravinia announced that he would be the festival’s second music director, succeeding Kertész, who had served as principal conductor from 1970 through the 1972 season.

Levine launched the first of his twenty years at the Ravinia Festival on June 27, 1973, leading the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis. His tenure was marked with an astonishing range of repertoire: cycles of symphonies by Brahms and Mahler; Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Beethoven’s piano concertos; choral masterworks by Berlioz, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Orff, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky; and concert performances of operas by Bellini, Donizetti, Mozart, Puccini, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner, all with the leading singers of the day.

Carmina burana

Levine amassed an extensive discography with the Orchestra and Chorus (including several Grammy winners) on Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and RCA, recorded at Orchestra Hall and in Medinah Temple, including Beethoven’s five piano concertos with Alfred Brendel; Berg’s Violin Concerto and Rihm’s Time Chant with Anne-Sophie Mutter; Brahms’s four symphonies and A German Requiem with Kathleen Battle and Håkan Hagegård; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (conducting from the keyboard); Holst’s The Planets; Mahler’s symphonies no. 3 with Marilyn Horne, no. 4 with Judith Blegen, and no. 7; and Schubert’s Ninth Symphony.

Twenty years to the day of his first concert as music director, Levine capped his tenure on June 27, 1993, leading the Orchestra and Chorus in Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration, and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

This article also appears here.

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Mussorgsky Pictures

Using a single Telefunken condenser microphone—hung twenty-five feet directly above the conductor’s podium—Mercury recorded Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on April 23, 1951, at Orchestra Hall. Rafael Kubelík, in his first season as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s fifth music director, conducted, and Adolph Herseth, principal trumpet since 1948, performed the opening fanfare. The recording was the inaugural release on Mercury’s Living Presence series.

In 1996, the original masters were used to transfer the recording to compact disc. In the liner notes for the Mercury rerelease, Robert C. Marsh commented that the original discs “represented the highest state of the art in monophonic recording technique. Hearing them again, some forty-five years later, one is still astonished by the degree to which they project the performers into the presence of the listener, a phenomenon noted in the early reviews by New York Times critic Howard Taubman [who originally coined the phrase ‘living presence’]. . . . Indeed, heard over multiple speaker systems there have always been passages in these recordings in which one is easily convinced that he is, in fact, listening to stereo. The balance, clarity, and texture of the music is so beautifully preserved, the dynamic range is so wide and so free of the compression often associated with monophonic records, that it is difficult to accept that all this sound comes from a monophonic source.”

Adolph "Bud" Herseth

Adolph “Bud” Herseth

The Orchestra also recorded Pictures in 1957 for RCA with Fritz Reiner conducting, in 1967 for RCA with Seiji Ozawa, in 1976 for Deutsche Grammophon with Carlo Maria Giulini, in 1980 for London Records with Sir Georg Solti, and in 1989 for Chandos with Neeme Järvi. The Reiner and Järvi versions were recorded at Orchestra Hall; Ozawa, Giulini, and Solti recorded at Medinah Temple. A performance video recorded at Suntory Hall in Tokyo on April 15, 1990—which also included an introduction with Solti performing examples at the piano and in rehearsal with the Orchestra—was released by London. On all recordings, Herseth performed the opening fanfare.

This article also appears here.

Horowitz album cover

Deutsche Grammophon has released—for the first time on CD—Vladimir Horowitz‘s final recital in Orchestra Hall from October 26, 1986. The concert originally had been broadcast on WFMT (Mitchell Heller was the broadcast-recording engineer and producer). For the CD release, Jon Samuels was producer and Matthew Sohn the restoration engineer.

The two-CD set also includes two interviews, both of which were excerpted for the 1986 broadcast; on the release, they are included in their entirety. The first is with Chicago Tribune music critic Thomas Willis from October 30, 1974, and the second with WFMT’s Norman Pellegrini from October 25, 1986 (the day before the recital). Both interviews also can be heard here.

Horowitz's program for October 26, 1986; Schumann's Träumerei and Moszkowski's Etincelles were performed as encores.

Horowitz’s program for October 26, 1986; Schumann’s Träumerei and Moszkowski’s Étincelles were performed as encores. The complete program is here.

“Those who witnessed past Horowitz recitals might have known what to expect: the famously idiosyncratic phrasings, the errant tempos, the pedal effects that only he can achieve, the bursts of titanic virtuosity,” wrote John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune on October 27, 1986. “Through it all Horowitz wore a gentle smile, looking rather childlike as he waved to the crowd, clapped his hands and gave little shrugs whenever his keyboard conjuring drew the wonted response. One trusts that the effect was as potent for the thousands who were listening to WFMT’s live radio broadcast as it was for the crowd who packed the hall and stage seats.”

“But there is only one Horowitz, a miraculous, many-faceted artist who delights in surprising us and revealing the plurality of things that enter into his artistry,” added Robert C. Marsh in the Chicago Sun-Times. “Have no doubt, he is still, I am sure, the greatest virtuoso of all. . . . Listening to Horowitz is listening to history. He takes us back to a musical world that, except for himself, is largely gone. I was pleased so many of his listeners were young people. Opportunities for time traveling are always rare. We should savor them.” Both reviews are available here.

In the 1986 interview, the pianist concluded: “I think Chicago was my first success in America . . . Chicago is special for me. I like the people, the whole, everything.”

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Theodore Thomas

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