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The work most closely identified with Sir Georg Solti’s tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra would arguably be Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

During his final season as music director, Solti and the Orchestra recorded Mahler’s Fifth a second time for London Records. The work was recorded live in concert at the Musikverein in Vienna on November 30, 1990, during the Orchestra’s tour to Russia, Hungary, and Austria.

For London, Michael Haas was the producer, Stanley Goodall was the engineer, and Matthew Hutchinson was the tape editor.

In his Memoirs, Solti wrote: “it was Mahler’s Fifth which I shall always associate with the Chicago Symphony. It was part of our first tour program together, to Carnegie Hall in New York [in January 1970]. We went with a certain trepidation, not knowing how New Yorkers would receive us, as we were still an unknown quantity. When we finished the last movement, the audience stood up and screamed hysterically as if it were a rock concert. The applause seemed endless; they had fallen under the spell of our exceptional performance. I had never experienced such an overwhelming phenomenon in my life and probably never will again.” (Shortly after the concert in New York, the symphony was recorded in Chicago’s Medinah Temple in March 1970.)

In the second edition of Paul Robinson’s Solti, the author stated: “In November 1990, Solti and the CSO toured Europe to great acclaim. In Vienna their program included the Mahler Fifth and the Decca engineers were there to record the event for posterity. It turned out to be an even finer recording than the one they had made in Chicago twenty years before. The virtuosity is on the same high level but there is a depth of feeling, particularly in the Adagietto, that is quite striking. The sound quality is also remarkable, taking advantage of the latest in digital technology. There are numerous subtleties of soft playing only hinted at in the earlier recording. One of Mahler’s most original touches of orchestration is the use of a tam-tam in the second movement. It is marked piano and in most recordings it is simply not audible. But in this one it has an altogether distinctive presence that colors the whole texture of the music. Wonderful! There are times when one misses the expansiveness of expression that is so moving in the [Leonard] Bernstein or [Herbert von] Karajan recordings, but this is nonetheless one of [the] best documentations of Solti and the CSO in their prime together.”

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Sir Georg Solti led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first trip to the Soviet Union and Hungary in November 1990, also including a single stop in Vienna.

Program page for the November 24 concert in Moscow

November 21, 1990 – Bolshoi Hall of the Philharmonie, Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Soviet Union
Saturday, November 24, 1990 – Great Hall of the Conservatory, Moscow, Soviet Union
Friday, November 30, 1990 – Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria
BARTÓK Dance Suite
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

November 22, 1990 – Bolshoi Hall of the Philharmonie, Leningrad, Soviet Union
Monday, November 26, 1990 – Great Hall of the Conservatory, Moscow, Soviet Union
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8

Wednesday, November 28, 1990 – Congress Centre, Budapest, Hungary
BARTÓK Dance Suite
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 3
András Schiff, piano
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra

Solti, along with members of the Orchestra and staff, poses in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square

Two recordings were made during the tour, both for London Records. The performance of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony was recorded live in Leningrad on November 22 (London’s first recording venture in the Soviet Union); Michael Haas was the producer, James Lock and Colin Moorfoot were the engineers, and Sally Drew was the tape editor. Mahler’s Fifth Symphony was recorded live in Vienna on November 30, Michael Haas was the producer, Stan Goodall was the engineer, and Matthew Hutchinson was the tape editor.

The concerts in Leningrad and Moscow were part of a cultural exchange that brought the Leningrad Philharmonic to Chicago for two weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, with Music Director Yuri Temirkanov and Associate Conductor Mariss Jansons sharing the podium:

November 13, 15, and 18, 1990
Yuri Temirkanov, conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Viktor Tretyakov, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Manfred Symphony, Op. 58

November 16 and 17, 1990
Mariss Jansons, conductor
PROKOFIEV Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10
Dmitri Alexeev, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

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Between September 1986 and January 1990, Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies a second time, again for London Records; and again, the recordings were ultimately released as a set (along with two overtures: Egmont and Leonore no. 3).

The recording of the Ninth Symphony won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
Michael Haas, producer
Stan Goodall and Michael Mailes, engineers
Jenni Whiteside, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
November 1989

Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
Michael Haas, producer
Stan Goodall and Michael Mailes, engineers
Jenni Whiteside, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
January and February 1990

Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Michael Haas, producer
Stan Goodall, engineer
Matthew Hutchinson, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
May 1989

Symphony No. 4 in B flat Major, Op. 60
Michael Haas, producer
James Lock, engineer
Alison Carter, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
September 1987

Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67
Michael Haas, producer
James Lock, engineer
Alison Carter, tape editor
Recorded at Medinah Temple
October 1986

Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
Michael Haas, producer
Stan Goodall, engineer
Deborah Rogers, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
May and October 1988

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92
Michael Haas, producer
Stan Goodall, engineer
Simon Bertram, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
May 1988

Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
Michael Haas, producer
Stan Goodall, engineer
Simon Bertram, tape editor
Recorded at Orchestra Hall
October 1988

Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Jessye Norman, soprano
Reinhild Runkel, contralto
Robert Schunk, tenor
Hans Sotin, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Michael Haas, producer
John Pellowe, engineer
Neil Hutchinson, tape editor
Recorded at Medinah Temple
September and October 1986

Margaret Hillis, Solti, and soloists accept applause following the September 24, 1986, opening night performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Orchestra Hall. The work was recorded at Medinah Temple with the same forces the following week.

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