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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!

Earlier today we heard of the news of the death of the remarkable English bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk, as reported in The Telegraph.

Shirley-Quirk appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a number of important occasions, as listed below (all appearances are subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

John Shirley Quirk

August 30, 31 & September 1, 1971 (recording sessions at the Sofiensaal in Vienna)
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Georg Solti, conductor
Heather Harper, soprano
Lucia Popp, soprano
Arleen Augér, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
René Kollo, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Norbert Balatsch, chorus master
Singverein Chorus
Helmut Froschauer, chorus master
Vienna Boys’ Choir

December 16, 17 & 18, 1971
BACH Mass in B Minor
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Margaret Price, soprano
Josephine Veasey, mezzo-soprano
Luigi Alva, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 27, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BRITTEN War Requiem
István Kertész, conductor (orchestra)
György Fischer, conductor (chamber orchestra)
Margaret Hillis, conductor (children’s chorus)
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Robert Tear, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Northwestern University Chorus and Concert Choir
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

July 3, 1975 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn
James Levine, conductor
Maria Ewing, soprano

Mahler's Symphony no. 8 in E-flat Major, recorded in Vienna in 1971

Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 in E-flat Major, recorded in Vienna in 1971

May 15, 16 & 17, 1980
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS A Sea Symphony
Raymond Leppard, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

March 5, 6 & 7, 1981
STRAVINSKY Oedipus Rex
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Maximillian Schell, narrator
Philip Langridge, tenor
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Aage Haugland, bass
Rockwell Blake, tenor
Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

June 3, 4 & 5, 1982
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
Benita Valente, soprano
Katherine Ciesinski, mezzo-soprano
Jon Frederic West, tenor
Kurt Link, bass (Shirley-Quirk canceled due to illness and was replaced by Link on June 5 only)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 1, 2 & 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
Sergei Koptchak, bass
Kurt 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

Claudio Abbado, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985, recorded extensively with the Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Chorus beginning in 1976 through 1991 on CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, and Sony, as well as several releases on the CSO’s From the Archives series. A complete list of those recordings is below.

Bartok Piano Concertos

BARTÓK Concerto for Piano No. 1
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979 Gramophone Award for Concerto

BARTÓK Concerto for Piano No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon
1979 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance–Instrumental Soloist
1979 Gramophone Award for Concerto

Berlioz Symphonie fantastique x

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

BRAHMS Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (Double)
Isaac Stern, violin
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

BRUCH Concerto for Violin No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

CHOPIN Concerto for Piano No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Ivo Pogorelich, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

GABRIELI Jubilate Deo and Miserere mei Deus from Sacrae symphoniae
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1986
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 13: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fortieth Anniversary Celebration)

Mozart and Haydn concertos

HAYDN Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

HAYDN Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello, Oboe, and Bassoon, Op. 84
Samuel Magad, violin
Frank Miller, cello
Ray Still, oboe
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 2: Soloists of the Orchestra)

MAHLER Rückert Lieder
Hanna Schwarz, mezzo-soprano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

Mahler Symphony No. 2

MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Carol Neblett, soprano
Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Medinah Temple, February 1976
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1979 and February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, January and February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Violin in E Minor, Op. 64
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1980
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat Major, K. 191
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Horn No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447
Dale Clevenger, horn
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1981
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C Major, K. 314
Ray Still, oboe
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

MOZART Kyrie in D Minor, K. 341
Chicago Symphony Chorus
James Winfield, associate director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1983
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

MUSSORGSKY Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov
Philip Langridge, tenor
Ruggero Raimondi, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1984
CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra–The First 100 Years)

MUSSORGSKY Joshua
Lucia Valentini-Terrani, mezzo-soprano
Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

MUSSORGSKY Chorus of Priestesses from Salammbô
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1981
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 22: Chicago Symphony Chorus: A Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration)

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February and March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Concerto for Violin No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63
Shlomo Mintz, violin
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February and March 1983
Deutsche Grammophon

Prokofiev Scythian and Kije

PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kijé, Op. 60
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon

PROKOFIEV Scythian Suite
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1977
Deutsche Grammophon

RACHMANINOV Concerto for Piano No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18
Cecile Licad, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CBS

RACHMANINOV Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Cecile Licad, piano
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CBS

Tchaikovsky 1812

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture, Op. 49
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1990
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Suite No. 1 from The Nutcracker, Op. 71a
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1991
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1988
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 (Winter Dreams)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, March 1991
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17 (Little Russian)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1984
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op. 29 (Polish)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, Feburary 1990
Sony

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, April 1988
CBS

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1985
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, November 1986
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY The Tempest, Op. 18
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, May 1984
CBS

TCHAIKOVSKY Le Voyevode, Op. 78
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1985
CBS

WAGNER A Faust Overture
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1983
CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra–The First 100 Years)

WEBERN Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, February 1984
CSO (From the Archives, vol. 5: Guests in the House)

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

Claudio Abbado

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of Claudio Abbado, who served as our principal guest conductor from 1982 until 1985. Abbado died peacefully on Monday, January 20 in Bologna, Italy, following a long illness. He was 80.

A frequent and beloved guest conductor, Abbado made his debut with the Orchestra in January 1971, leading three weeks of subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall as well as a run-out concert to Milwaukee:

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971
January 11, 1971 (Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
MOZART Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, K. 216
Josef Suk, violin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

debut program

. . . and Abbado’s program book biography

debut program page

January 7, 8 & 9, 1971, program page . . .

January 14 & 15, 1971
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Helen Watts, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Barbara Born, director

January 21, 22 & 23, 1971
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
Maurizio Pollini, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor

He returned to Chicago frequently, both before and after his tenure as principal guest conductor—also leading domestic tour concerts including stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Carnegie Hall—and his final appearances with the Orchestra were in March 1991. Abbado’s residencies included numerous collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and he also led the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on multiple occasions.

His repertoire with the Orchestra covered a broad spectrum including symphonies by Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky; concertos by Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, Berg, Brahms, Bruch, Chopin, Hindemith, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Schoenberg, Schumann, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky; as well as twentieth-century works by Boulez, Ligeti, Rihm, and Webern. Some of Abbado’s most memorable concerts included complete performances of Berg’s Wozzeck, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, Schoenberg’s Ewartung, Stockhausen’s Gruppen for Three Orchestras, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Pulcinella, and Verdi’s Requiem.

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg's Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado acknowledges applause following a performance of Berg’s Wozzeck on May 24, 1984 (J. Wassman photo)

Abbado collaborated with a vast array of soloists including instrumentalists Salvatore Accardo, Carter Brey, Natalia Gutman, Yuzuko Horigome, Zoltán Kocsis, Cecile Licad, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, Shlomo Mintz, Viktoria Mullova, Ken Noda, Ivo Pogorelich, Maurizio Pollini, David Schrader, Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, Josef Suk, and Pinchas Zukerman; vocalists Francisco Araiza, Hildegard Behrens, Gabriela Beňačková, Rockwell Blake, Claudio Desderi, Maria Ewing, Donald Gramm, Aage Haugland, Marilyn Horne, Gwynne Howell, Philip Langridge, Benjamin Luxon, Carol Neblett, Margaret Price, Ruggero Raimondi, Samuel Ramey, Hanna Schwarz, Ellen Shade, John Shirley-Quirk, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, and Helen Watts; narrator Maximilian Schell; and CSO members Victor Aitay, Dale Clevenger, Willard Elliot, Adolph Herseth, Samuel Magad, Frank Miller, Mary Sauer, and Ray Still.

Following his last CSO guest conducting engagement in 1991, Abbado returned to Chicago on three occasions with the Berlin Philharmonic:

Berlin program

Abbado’s final appearance in Chicago, with the Berlin Philharmonic on October 10, 2001

October 22, 1993
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

October 18, 1999
MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Anna Larsson, contralto
Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Emily Ellsworth, director

October 10, 2001
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

Statements on Claudio Abbado’s passing from Maestro Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra can be found on CSO Sounds and Stories.

____________________________________________________

Georg Solti conducted the British premiere of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron at Covent Garden in June 1965. In Memoirs, he wrote: “Although I had conducted works by Bartók and Stravinsky, I had never before conducted twelve-tone music of such complexity. Moses is a much harder work than, for example, Lulu. There is a bel canto, legato quality to Lulu that is in contrast to the predominantly spoken and contrapuntal Moses. I remember feeling depressed as I grappled with the score during my 1964 Christmas holiday: I simply didn’t know how to learn the piece, how to get it in my bloodstream. Eventually, I succeeded, but the further I forged ahead, the more I became aware of the enormity of the practical task ahead of me. Schoenberg’s written indications of main theme and second theme, for instance, help performers to grasp what is going on, but bringing those indications to life is anything but easy. . . . It was so well received that it was repeated the following year.”

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Solti led Schoenberg’s opera on two occasions, in November 1971 and April 1984.

Moses und Aron in concert at Orchestra Hall on November 13, 1971

November 11, 12, and 13, 1971, at Orchestra Hall
November 20, 1971, at Carnegie Hall
(performed in English in a translation by David Rudkin)
Moses Hans Hotter, speaker
Aaron Richard Lewis, tenor
A Young Girl Karen Altman, soprano
A Young Man Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Another Man Benjamin Matthews, baritone
Priest Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
An Invalid Woman Emilie Miller, mezzo-contralto
Ephraimite Stephen Swanson, baritone
A Naked Youth Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Four Naked Virgins Barbara Pearson and Nancy Clevenger, sopranos; Sharon Powell, mezzo-soprano; Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, alto
Three Elders Alfred Reichel and Jack Abraham, baritones; Eugene Johnson, bass
Six Solo Voices in the Orchestra Barbara Pearson, soprano; Sharon Powell, mezzo-soprano; Elizabeth Muir-Lewis, alto; William Wahman, tenor; Stephen Swanson and Arthur Berg, baritones
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus; Barbara Born, director

April 19 and 21, 1984, at Orchestra Hall
(performed in German)
Moses Franz Mazura, speaker
Aaron Philip Langridge, tenor
A Young Girl Barbara Bonney, soprano
A Young Man Daniel Harper, tenor
Another Man Kurt Link, baritone
Priest Aage Haugland, bass
An Invalid Woman Mira Zakai, contralto
Ephraimite Herbert Wittges, baritone
A Naked Youth Thomas Dymit, tenor
Four Naked Virgins Jean Braham and Barbara Pearson, sopranos; Cynthia Anderson and Karen Zajac, contraltos
Three Elders Kurt Link and Richard Cohn, baritones; Paul Grizzell, bass
Six Solo Voices in the Orchestra Sally Schweikert, soprano; Elizabeth Gottlieb, mezzo-soprano; Karen Brunssen, contralto; Roald Henderson, tenor; Bradley Nystrom, baritone; William Kirkwood, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Members of the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director
Elizabeth Buccheri, repetiteur

The opera was recorded at Orchestra Hall on April 23, 24, 30, and May 1, 1984. James Mallinson produced the recording, and James Lock and John Pellowe were the engineers for London Records. The recording won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Following the release of the recording, Arnold Whittall in Gramophone wrote:

“Sir Georg Solti has come to record Moses und Aron the best part of two decades after he conducted the opera in Peter Hall’s Covent Garden production. . . . His faith in Schoenberg’s most ambitious dramatic project remains undimmed and he believes that, with increasing familiarity, the music becomes ‘clearer, less complicated, and more expressive and romantic.’ This may well be true, but I think that becoming familiar with the opera also reinforces its remarkable ambiguity and originality. Moses und Aron is a necessarily and challengingly diverse composition. At one extreme, the choral counterpoint with its traditional imitative techniques: at the other, the concentratedly expressionist orchestral writing. Then there is the almost blatant, post-Mahlerian vulgarity of parts of the ‘Dance round the Golden Calf,’ in complete contrast to the visionary, discomfiting density of scenes like the first, in which superimpositions of speech and song, voices and instruments, leave the listener straining to find the centre, to discover the idea behind the images in this confrontation between human and divine. Add to all this the fact that there is a text for a third act that Schoenberg never set, and we have something which, however expressive and romantic, is still very much a problem piece.

“The odds are that any studio recording of Moses will be stronger in textural clarity and accuracy of detail than in theatrical atmosphere. Yet the latter is certainly not lacking in Solti’s performance, especially in the second act. Since Act l is less conventionally theatrical anyway, it is not surprising that it is here that you are likely to be most aware of artists working conscientiously in a recording studio (Orchestra Hall, Chicago). But there are moments of excitement in Act I, too, which seem to bear out Solti’s confident claim that ‘the more we rehearsed and played the easier the work became. . . .’

“It is certainly good that the recording does not attempt artificially to oversimplify or stratify the work’s blended textures, and it well serves the music’s vertiginous exploration of the borderland between complexity and chaos, inscrutable divinity and argumentative humanity. In this precarious balance lies the impact and quality of the whole performance, with its generally good supporting cast; it also explains the abiding fascination of Schoenberg’s last attempt to bring a great philosophical issue to dramatic life.”

____________________________________________________

To honor Sir Georg Solti’s seventy-fifth birthday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus gave a gala concert of the highest order on October 9, 1987.

Governor James R. Thompson opened the concert with welcoming remarks, and after the intermission, Mayor Harold Washington presented Sir Georg with the City of Chicago’s Medal of Merit. The concert program was as follows:

CORIGLIANO Campane di Ravello (world premiere)
Kenneth Jean, conductor

J. STRAUSS Overture to Die Fledermaus
Plácido Domingo, conductor

MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos in E-flat Major, K. 365
Sir Georg Solti, conductor and piano
Murray Perahia, piano

STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
Sir Georg Solti, conductor

Plácido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa perform a scene from Verdi’s Otello

VERDI Excerpts from Act 1 of Otello
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Plácido Domingo, tenor
Kurt R. Hansen, tenor
Joseph Wolverton, tenor
Richard Cohn, baritone
David Huneryager, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

The commemorative program contained letters and testimonials from numerous public officials, conductors, musicians, and industry professionals, including: Ronald Reagan, James R. Thompson, Harold Washington, Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Carlo Maria Giulini, Rafael Kubelík, John Corigliano, Christoph von Dohnányi, Rudolf Serkin, Henry Fogel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christa Ludwig, Birgit Nilsson, Witold Lutosławski, Sir Charles Mackerras, Mstislav Rostropovich, Klaus Tennstedt, David Del Tredici, Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Slatkin, Werner Klemperer, José van Dam, Elliott Carter, Karel Husa, Isaac Stern, Morton Gould, Hans Werner Henze, Itzhak Perlman, Anja Silja, Erich Leinsdorf, Josef Suk, Plácido Domingo, Michael Tippett, Kiri Te Kanawa, Murray Perahia, Leontyne Price, András Schiff, Kenneth Jean, Andrzej Panufnik, Dame Janet Baker, Pierre Boulez, Yvonne Minton, Herbert Blomstedt, Mira Zakai, Margaret Hillis, Gunther Herbig, Ray Minshull, Ann Murray, Philip Langridge, Raymond Leppard, Vladimir Ashkenazy, George Rochberg, Gwynne Howell, Ardis Krainik, Michael Morgan, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Henry Mancini, and Barbara Hendricks.

Solti and Perahia as soloists in Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos

The concert was covered widely in the press, in the Chicago Tribune (here, here, and here) and Sun-Times (here and here), as well as Time, Newsweek, the Post-Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among many others.

____________________________________________________


The May 2012 issue of Gramophone magazine includes the first installment of their Hall of Fame, and Sir Georg Solti is included on the list.

The print edition of the magazine includes a tribute written by pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet: “The more I grow in my life as [a] musician, the more the example of Sir Georg shines in my private pantheon. With his always-ongoing energy, insatiable curiosity, and desire to meet and help the younger generation, he showed us how a career should be built progressively and organically in order to achieve one’s own artistic goal. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to meet Sir Georg in the last three years of his life when he was extremely generous to share with me his extremely precise and powerful musical ideas. He also gave me the best advice: ‘Never give up, keep working, there is always room at the top.'”

Online, Gramophone also includes a link to an article from 1981, written by Edward Greenfield. The article describes some of the recording sessions for Solti’s 1981 recording of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro for London. A dream cast had been assembled:

Count Almaviva Thomas Allen, baritone
Countess Almaviva Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Susanna Lucia Popp, soprano
Figaro Samuel Ramey, bass
Cherubino Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Marcellina Jane Berbié, mezzo-soprano
Doctor Bartolo Kurt Moll, bass
Don Basilio Robert Tear, tenor
Don Curzio Philip Langridge, tenor
Barbarina Yvonne Kenny, soprano
Antonio Giorgio Tadeo, bass
Jeffrey Tate, continuo
London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Opera Chorus

The recording won the 1983 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Three other notable conductors affiliated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra also made Gramophone‘s list: Pierre Boulez (principal guest conductor 1995-2006, conductor emeritus 2006- ), Daniel Barenboim (music director 1991-2006), and Claudio Abbado (principal guest conductor 1982-1985).

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