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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.

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has recorded each of Brahms’s four symphonies multiple times and also has recorded the complete cycle on three different occasions. A complete listing is below.

During his tenure as Ravinia Festival music director, James Levine recorded the symphonies with the Orchestra for RCA at Medinah Temple. The recordings were produced by Thomas Z. Shepard and Paul Goodman was the recording engineer. Jay David Saks also co-produced the First Symphony, which was recorded in July 1975. The remaining three were recorded in July 1976.

Eighth music director Sir Georg Solti also led the Orchestra in sessions at Medinah Temple. For London, the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures) were produced by James Mallinson; Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, and Michael Mailes were the engineers. The Third and Fourth symphonies were recorded in May 1978, and the First and Second were recorded in January 1979. The set won 1979 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Orchestral Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Daniel Barenboim, the Orchestra’s ninth music director, recorded the four symphonies (along with the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures and the Variations on a Theme by Haydn) live at Orchestra Hall for Erato. Vic Muenzer was producer, Lawrence Rock was the sound engineer, assisted by Christopher Willis; and Konrad Strauss was the mastering engineer. All four symphonies were recorded live in 1993: the First and Third in May, the Fourth in September, and the Second in October.

Recordings of the individual symphonies by other conductors are listed below.

Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

Rafael Kubelík, conductor
Recorded by Mercury in Orchestra Hall in April 1952
David Hall, recording director
C. Robert Fine and George Piros engineers

Günter Wand, conductor
Recorded live for RCA in Orchestra Hall in January 1989
Norman Pellegrini and David Frost, producers
Mitchell Heller, recording engineer
John Purcell, post-production engineer

Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90

Frederick Stock, conductor
Recorded by Columbia in New York’s Liederkranz Hall in November 1940

Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded by RCA in Orchestra Hall in December 1957
Richard Mohr, producer

Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Recorded by Angel in Medinah Temple in October 1969
Peter Andry, producer
Carson Taylor, balance engineer

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform Brahms’s four symphonies at Orchestra Hall in May. Details here and here.

leontyne-price

Today we send all best wishes for a very happy ninetieth birthday to the legendary soprano, Leontyne Price! Several excellent tributes have been written (here, here, and here, among many others) to recognize her extraordinary and groundbreaking career as an artist—in opera, concert, and on recording.

Price has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, Carnegie Hall, and the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, as follows:

February 28 and March 1, 1963 (Orchestra Hall)
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
FALLA El amor brujo
Fritz Reiner, conductor

March 13, 1971 (Orchestra Hall)
March 15, 1971 (Pabst Theater)
BARBER “Give me my robe” from Antony and Cleopatra
MOZART “Dove sono” from Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

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

July 11, 1975 (Ravinia Festival)
PUCCINI “Un bel di vedremo” from Madama Butterfly
VERDI “Ernani! Ernani, involami” from Ernani
MOZART “D’Oreste, d’Ajace” from Idomeneo, K. 366
STRAUSS “Zweite Brautnacht” from Die ägyptische Helena
James Levine, conductor

Proof sheet detail from recording sessions for Verdi's Requeim at Medinah Temple in June 1977

Proof sheet detail from recording sessions for Verdi’s Requiem at Medinah Temple in June 1977 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

July 2, 1976 (Ravinia Festival)
PUCCINI “Senza mamma” from Suor Angelica
PUCCINI “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca
VERDI “Pace, pace, mio Dio” from La forza del destino
MOZART “Come scoglio” from Così fan tutte, K. 588
WAGNER “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser
James Levine, conductor

May 31, 1977 (Orchestra Hall)
VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 22, 1979 (Ravinia Festival)
VERDI La forza del destino
James Levine, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano
Sharon Graham, mezzo-soprano
Giuseppe Giacomini, tenor
Andrea Velis, tenor
Cornell MacNeil, baritone
Renato Capecchi, baritone
Carl Glaum, baritone
Bonaldo Giaiotti, bass
Julien Robbins, bass
Daniel McConnell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Price onstage with Solti and the Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on April 29, 1980 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

Price onstage with Solti and the Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on April 29, 1980 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

April 29, 1980 (Carnegie Hall)
WAGNER “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

July 13, 1985 (Ravinia Festival)
PUCCINI “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca
PUCCINI “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” from La rondine
VERDI “Ernani! Ernani, involami” from Ernani
VERDI “D’amor sull’ali rosee” from Il trovatore
WAGNER Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
STRAUSS Final Scene from Salome
James Levine, conductor

Advance notice for Price's 1963 debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Advance notice for Price’s 1963 debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Price also recorded with the Orchestra—including two Grammy Award winners—as follows:

BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été, Op. 7
FALLA El amor brujo
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Recorded on March 2 and 3, 1963 in Orchestra Hall by RCA
Richard Mohr produced the recording, and Lewis Layton was the engineer. The recording won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Vocal Soloist (with or without orchestra) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

VERDI Requiem
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Leontyne Price, soprano
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded on June 1 and 2, 1977, in Medinah Temple by RCA
Thomas Z. Shepard produced the recording, and Paul Goodman was the engineer. The recording won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera).

WAGNER “Dich teure Halle” from Tannhäuser
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Recorded by WFMT on April 29, 1980, in Carnegie Hall
Released on Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The First 100 Years during the Orchestra’s centennial season in April 1991

Under the auspices of Allied Arts and CSO Presents, Price also gave numerous recitals in Orchestra Hall on the following dates:

  • May 6, 1956
  • April 7, 1957
  • December 6, 1958
  • May 30, 1962
  • February 3, 1963
  • February 1, 1970
  • February 27, 1972
  • April 4, 1976
  • January 29, 1984
  • November 11, 1990
  • April 24, 1994
  • February 16, 1997

Happy, happy birthday!

Portions of this article previously appeared here.

As we count down the days to Giuseppe Verdi‘s 200th birthday and our performance and simulcast of his Requiem led by Riccardo Muti, here are all of the recordings of the work by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Our eighth music director, Sir Georg Solti, was the first to commercially record Verdi’s Requiem. The work was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977.

Solti

1977 – Sir Georg Solti

The soloists were Leontyne Price, soprano; Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Veriano Luchetti, tenor; and José van Dam, bass-baritone. The Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Margaret Hillis.

Thomas Z. Shepard produced the recording, and Paul Goodman was the engineer for RCA (this was one of the few records Solti made independent of London/Decca). The recording won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Barenboim

1993 – Daniel Barenboim

Ninth music director Daniel Barenboim led recording sessions for Verdi’s Requiem on September 20 and 21, 1993, in Orchestra Hall.

Soloists included Alessandra Marc, soprano; Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano; Plácido Domingo, tenor; and Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass. The Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Margaret Hillis.

Martin Sauer produced the recording; Jean Chatauret was the sound engineer, assisted by Christopher Willis; and Martine Guers was the editor for Erato.

In his first concerts at the CSO’s music director designate, Riccardo Muti led performances of Verdi’s Requiem at Orchestra Hall on January 15, 16, and 17, 2009. The performances were recorded live for CSO Resound.

Muti

2009 – Riccardo Muti

The soloists were Barbara Frittoli, soprano; Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano; Mario Zeffiri, tenor; and Ildar Abdrazakov, bass. The Chicago Symphony Chorus was prepared by Duain Wolfe.

Christopher Adler produced the recording, and Christopher Willis was the recording engineer. David Frost and Tom Lazarus did the mixing, and Frost and Silas Brown performed the stereo mastering. The recording won 2010 Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

But wait, there’s more . . .

Fritz Reiner, the CSO’s sixth music director, led performances of the Requiem at Orchestra Hall on April 3 and 4, 1958. Soloists included Leonie Rysanek, soprano; Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano; David Lloyd, tenor; and Giorgio Tozzi, bass. The Chicago Symphony Chorus—in their second subscription concert appearances—was prepared by Margaret Hillis.

The March 4 performance was recorded for radio broadcast and since then, it has surfaced on a variety of unauthorized releases. An Italian release on Melodram in 1986 even mistakenly labeled the LP jacket as “Orchestra e Coro: Chicago Lyric Opera.” Most recently, we have seen it on a CD release from Archipel. Unfortunately, the sound quality on both is not great, even though it does provide an interesting snapshot of Reiner’s interpretation of the work, not to mention the sound of a very young Chicago Symphony Chorus.

Wishing a very happy eightieth birthday to the remarkable mezzo-soprano, Dame Janet Baker. Several excellent tributes have been written (here and here, among many others) to recognize her extraordinary career as an artist—in opera, concert, and on recording.

xx

Janet Baker recording Verdi’s Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Medinah Temple in June 1977

Dame Janet appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on four occasions, all at Orchestra Hall:

January 15, 16, and 18, 1976
BERLIOZ Les nuits d’été
Sir Georg Solti, conductor (January 15 and 16)
Henry Mazer, conductor (January 18)

May 31, 1977
VERDI Requiem
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

April 20, 21, and 22, 1978
RAVEL Shéhérazade
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

May 3, 4, and 6, 1984
ELGAR Sea Pictures, Op. 37
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Of course, the 1977 interpretation of Verdi’s Requiem was recorded by RCA in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2. Thomas Z. Shepard produced the recording, and Paul Goodman was the engineer (this was one of the few records Solti made independent of London/Decca). The recording won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

One of Dame Janet’s signature works—and the vehicle for her CSO debut—was Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été. Here’s the second song from the cycle (“Le spectre de la rose”) from a March 1972 concert conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.

____________________________________________________

Solti leading a Verdi Requiem recording session at Medinah Temple in June 1977

Sir Georg Solti twice led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Verdi’s Requiem, with concerts in Orchestra Hall and Carnegie Hall.

April 24 and 26, 1975, at Orchestra Hall (special non-subscription concerts)
April 30, 1975, at Carnegie Hall
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 31, 1977, at Orchestra Hall (Musicians’ Pension Fund concert)
Leontyne Price, soprano
Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
José van Dam, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

The work was recorded in Medinah Temple on June 1 and 2, 1977.

John Warrack‘s review in Gramophone magazine noted: “Much credit for bringing four strong and distinctive artists into a unified performance, of distinctive character, clearly resides with Solti. Either he now takes a less hectic, more consolatory view of the work, or he has let the quality of his soloists make this the shaping element of the performance. He is fortunate in an outstanding choir and orchestra, and in a recording that encompasses all the vehemence of the ‘Dies irae’ and also the cool sound of the three flutes accompanying Dame Janet’s beautiful singing of the ‘Agnus Dei’, without any sense of a change of perspective.

“There are sections where he has allowed the choir to let vehemence do duty for real emphasis—a case in point is the ‘Te decet hymnus’—and the renewal of the main ‘Dies irae’ theme has a slight note of an automatic return to a sensational moment, rather than a re-intensification of the moment of Judgement.

“But this is a fine performance, and one which can stand beside any which has been recorded. To choose between this and the Giulini performance listed above is not really reasonable: Giulini has qualities which are unique, and close to the heart of the work; Solti has his own qualities, and is favoured with at least two incomparable performances among his soloists. We are fortunate to have both interpretations recorded.”

(Warrack refers to Carlo Maria Giulini‘s 1964 recording of Verdi’s Requiem on Angel with the Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra. The soloists were Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Nicolai Gedda, and Nicolai Ghiaurov. Solti also recorded the Requiem in November 1967 for London Records with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Chorus. Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti, and Martti Talvela were the soloists.)

Thomas Z. Shepard produced the recording, and Paul Goodman was the engineer for RCA (this was one of the few records Solti made independent of London/Decca). The recording won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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