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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!

Lorin Maazel (Ben Spiegel photo)

Lorin Maazel (Ben Spiegel photo)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Lorin Maazel, a frequent and beloved guest conductor for forty years, from 1973 until 2013. Maazel died on July 13, 2014, at his Castleton Farms estate in Virginia. He was 84.

Maazel made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February and March 1973, leading two weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as a run-out to Milwaukee:

February 22, 23 & 24, 1973
February 26, 1973 (Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43
BARTÓK Two Images, Op. 10
SCRIABIN The Poem of Ecstasy, Op. 54

March 1, 2 & 3, 1973
MARTIRANO Contrasts for Orchestra
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

Mstislav Rostropovich and Lorin Maazel, following their performance of the first movement of Dvořák's Cello Concerto at the Centennial Gala on October 6, 1990

Mstislav Rostropovich and Lorin Maazel, following their performance of the first movement of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto at the Centennial Gala on October 6, 1990

During his forty-year collaboration with the Orchestra, Maazel’s repertoire covered a wide range of composers, including Beethoven, Brahms, Hindemith, Holst, Kernis, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Penderecki, Prokofiev, Respighi, Strauss, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner. He was one of several conductors invited to share the podium for the CSO’s Centennial Gala on October 6, 1990, and a few weeks later he led the Orchestra in the world premiere of Shchedrin’s Old Russian Circus Music (commissioned to celebrate the CSO’s centennial season) on October 25, 1990. A noted composer, Maazel also led the Orchestra in the U.S. premiere of his own Farewells on December 14, 2000.

Maazel last led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall for two weeks of subscription concerts—including a run-out to the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois—in February 2005:

February 10 & 12, 2005
February 11, 2005 (Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois)
BRAHMS Serenade No. 2 in A Major, Op. 16
BARTÓK Two Images, Op. 10
PROKOFIEV Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100

February 17, 18, 19 & 20, 2005
THOMAS Gathering Paradise
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano
SHOSTAKOVICH Cello Concerto No. 1
John Sharp, cello
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 39

His most recent appearance in Orchestra Hall was in March 2009 with the New York Philharmonic, during his final season as that ensemble’s music director:

March 9, 2009
BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite No. 3 in G Major, Op. 55
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

Maazel’s last appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were tour concerts in January and February 2013, including stops in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, and Seoul.

A statement from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Lorin Maazel’s passing can be found here.

A February 2005 performance of Maazel leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Brahms’s Serenade no. 2 in A major, op. 16—including the maestro speaking on Brahms—may be listened to here.

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In May 1972, Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The work was recorded for London Records; David Harvey was the producer, and Kenneth Wilkinson was the engineer.

In the November 1972 issue of Gramophone magazine, Jerrold Northrop Moore wrote: “The team of Decca engineers working in Chicago have done this portion of their work wonderfully well. Each of the three orchestral choirs, and especially the fourth section—the percussion—has been given its own special sound. So there is a greater separation (in a way that has nothing to do with stereo) than one would hear from any one place in the concert hall. Listening to this recording is almost like occupying all the best seats at once. That serves Berlioz’s peculiar kind of sonic counterpoint very well indeed. Yet the tuttis combine, I venture to say, every bit as well as their extravagant composer envisioned that they might.

“The Chicago musicians play superbly and enthusiastically for Sir Georg. Together they find more convincing music in the first three movements than I can recall having heard come out of any single performance. This is due mostly to the prodigies of imagination and sensitivity which Solti lavishes upon Berlioz’s hare-brained musical structures—diligently searching out and developing the tiniest shreds whereby development can be made out. And despite this care, I think no one will find that the sensational aspects have been scantily served. Where this sophistication cannot save the situation is in the last two sections, especially the March. There the music is being wound up and set going toward results which are frankly calculated to overtake any purely musical interest, and even Solti is not able to turn rumbustious tedium into perfect eloquence. Nevertheless in his hands, those of the Chicago musicians and those of the Decca engineers, vulgarity itself comes close to the artistically viable.”

At the time, Rose Records at 214 South Wabash (later Tower Records and now a school for barbers-to-be) had a neon sign made to promote the recording. The sign was on display in the store for several years, later donated to the Orchestra, and ultimately found its way to the Rosenthal Archives. Sadly, it no longer illuminates; the last time it was plugged in years ago, only half of one of the letters fizzed slightly. But it is still looks great on top of the shelves in the reading room.

The recording won 1974 Grammy Awards for Best Classical Performance–Orchestra; Best Engineered Recording, Classical; and Album of the Year, Classical from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique album front cover . . .


. . . and back cover.

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Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus first recorded Beethoven’s nine symphonies between May 1972 and September 1974 for London Records. The recordings were ultimately released as a set (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.

Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Medinah Temple
May 1974

Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Medinah Temple
May 1974

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Medinah Temple
November 1973 and May 1974

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Medinah Temple
May 1974

A recording session for Beethoven's Fifth or Eighth Symphony at Medinah Temple in November 1973.


Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Medinah Temple
November 1973

Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria
September 1974

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria
September 1974

Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
Ray Minshull, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Medinah Temple
November 1973

Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Pilar Lorengar, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Stuart Burrows, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
David Harvey, producer
Kenneth Wilkinson and James Lock, engineers
Recorded at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
May and June 1972

Margaret Hillis and Solti listen to playbacks of the Ninth Symphony at the Krannert Center in May 1972.

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Solti conducting Beethoven in Krannert - May 1971


In May 1971 and 1972, Vladimir Ashkenazy recorded Beethoven’s five piano concertos with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Solti conducting. On May 10 and 11, 1971, the third and fifth concertos were recorded, and a year later on May 22 and 23, 1972, the cycle was completed with the first, second, and fourth concertos. All recording sessions took place at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

For London Records, the recording was produced by David Harvey; Kenneth Wilkinson was the recording engineer.

The set of all five concertos won the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra).

Ashkenazy, Solti, and David Harvey listening to playbacks - May 1971

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Theodore Thomas

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