You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Pierre Boulez’ tag.

Daniel Barenboim (Don Getsug photo)

On November 15, 2017, Daniel Barenboim—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director—will celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday. To commemorate this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles highlighting many of his activities with the Orchestra, including recordings, international tours, world and U.S. premieres, and more.

Barenboim’s history in Chicago began on January 19, 1958, when the fifteen-year-old pianist first performed a solo recital in Orchestra Hall. When he returned that fall for a second engagement, he attended his first CSO concert that included sixth music director Fritz Reiner leading Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. In his autobiography A Life in Music, Barenboim recounted that, “nothing I had heard in Europe or elsewhere had prepared me for the shock of the precision, the volume, and the intensity of the Chicago orchestra. It was like a perfect machine with a beating human heart.”

Fritz Reiner leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 30 and 31, 1958

In June 1965, Barenboim made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with André Previn, and in February 1969, he first appeared with the Orchestra in Orchestra Hall in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez. He first conducted the Orchestra on November 4, 1970, at Michigan State University, and the first work on the program was Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré; a week later, they recorded it in Medinah Temple.

In February 1989, it was announced that Daniel Barenboim would succeed Sir Georg Solti to become the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ninth music director, beginning in the 1991-92 season.

Stay tuned!

This article also appears here.

Advertisements

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association offers a variety of internships in all departments, and we are always lucky to engage young, smart, and eager individuals—current students and recent graduates—from all disciplines. Working here can provide an in-depth look at not only the Orchestra’s rich history but also insight into the day-to-day operations of a performing arts organization. We recently reached out to former Rosenthal Archives interns to see what they have been up to . . .

Stephen Abitbol

A digital cinema graduate from DePaul University, Stephen Abitbol processed audio and video recording collections in the archives. “It was incredible to see how much dedication, love, and patience it takes from each musician to work as a whole to create a unique sound. It helped me understand how important it is to work as a team in my personal and professional relationships to grow together.” Stephen currently lives in Haifa, Israel, working as a digital marketer in a variety of startups. This fall, he is a full-time student there in language school to learn Hebrew.

Kathryn Antonelli

After her recent tenure in the archives, Kathryn Antonelli completed internships at Princeton University and the University of Hawaii, working with born-digital and moving-image collections. “Working at the CSO was what opened the doors to these amazing new experiences, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to spend a season there.” She will soon graduate from the University of South Carolina with her master of library and information science degree (MLIS) and plans to reside and work in Philadelphia.

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell completed degrees in fine arts from Harold Washington College and English literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago before earning an MLIS degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Working at the CSO impacted both my personal and professional paths, as I was able to meet the friendly employees and volunteers. They were all so gracious and willing to help out in any way, and no act of recognition was too small to have been noticed.” Sierra currently works at Fox College, managing libraries on two campuses.

Kerry Fulara

Kerry Fulara earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University and an MLIS (with a specialization in archives, preservation, and records management) degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Following her internship, she worked with Rush Hour Concerts and formally established its archives. “My time at the CSO taught me the importance and benefits of networking, connecting with people, and building relationships.” Kerry later worked as a records manager and now as a real estate analyst with Invenergy. Continuing her archival work, she currently volunteers with the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, developing its restoration archive.

John Garvens (Sarah Pemberton photo)

Since working in the archives, John Garvens has transitioned from music to retail to fitness to software to advertising to consulting while serving in the U.S. Army Reserve as a trombone player from 2004 until 2016. He especially remembers two visitors to the archives, Yo-Yo Ma and Pierre Boulez. “Both men were musical heroes of mine; it was an honor to meet them. It also was really cool to archive the media from Riccardo Muti’s earliest years with the CSO.” John earned a bachelor of music degree in trombone performance from Illinois State University.

Matthew Greenman (reverb.com photo)

Matthew Greenman completed a bachelor of music degree in performing arts management from DePaul University in 2016 before his CSO internships in the archives and the marketing department. “My time in the archives greatly enhanced my organizational skills, formed my fascination of and appreciation for the orchestra, and rekindled my love of live music.” Matthew later worked as a listings coordinator at reverb.com in Lakeview, and he is preparing to take the exam to join the New York City Fire Department.

Andrew Lyon (E. Lyon photo)

After earning his bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance from Illinois State University, Andrew Lyon joined the staff, processing and cataloguing the Margaret Hillis score collection. He later completed a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Butler University and has since returned to the archives on numerous occasions to utilize the score and audio collections. In the archives, “once you’re a part of it, you’re a part for life. You have your own page in the CSO history books.” Andrew currently is artistic and music director of The 65th Street Klezmorim and on faculty at Ivy Tech Community College.

Elliot Mandel (Dawn Mueller photo)

Before working for the American Library Association and Rush Hour Concerts, as well as writing classical concert reviews for local websites, Elliot Mandel graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Bradley University. “I loved my time in the archives, getting to know the rich history of the orchestra that I have enjoyed seeing perform since I was a kid.” He has since started his own photography business, where his clients include the Chicago Children’s Choir, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Kurt Elling, Spektral Quartet, and the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago.

Brian Maloney

“Working in the archives taught me an appreciation and understanding for how people can work together to create one cohesive production for all to enjoy and always instilled in me a deep sense of awe and respect for the CSO’s rich historical tapestry,” remembers Brian Maloney, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Saint Xavier University. He currently holds multiple band director and instructor jobs in the Chicago suburbs, with School District 95, Divine Providence School, Soli Deo Gloria Brass Band, and Evergreen Park Community High School.

Shridar Mani

Shridar Mani completed a bachelor’s degree in music (with honors) from the University of Chicago while an intern in the archives, where one of his projects was processing and cataloguing a collection of manuscripts by Chicago composer William Lester (see here and here). After graduation, he returned home to Singapore where he has worked for the past several years as a programming officer at the Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, producing a wide variety of concerts in all genres. “Working at the CSO helped me realize that working in the arts was a calling, and it has led to my career for the past six years and many more to come.”

Charles Russell Roberts (Mike Grittani photo)

With degrees from the University of Florida and the Eastman School of Music, Charles Russell Roberts currently is finishing a master’s degree in performing arts administration at Roosevelt University. “The archives internship was my first foray into working at a cultural institution in a capacity beyond the stage, and it gave me a deep understanding and respect for the integrity and preservation of not only physical archives but also the importance of records and data in understanding how an organization changes over time.” Charles—also an alumnus of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago—currently balances a full-time job as a project manager with Grenzebach Glier and Associates with performances with the Gaudete Brass Quintet.

Andrew Song

Before completing a bachelor of arts degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago, Andrew Song worked at the CSO as an archives intern and patron services associate. “I gained strong insight into how a large organization can foster meaningful long-term relationships with its patrons as well as nurture its community through education and outreach . . . I also realized, for the first time, the greater institutional sense of community oriented self-efficacy: a pride that I was part of a great organization that made such fantastic concerts possible for the sake of our audience members.” Andrew currently is a student at Harvard Medical School.

Gregory Starr

“Working with the archives really strengthened my attention to detail,” remembers Gregory Starr, whose internship helped fulfill a class requirement for his bachelor’s degree in music business from Western Illinois University. Once after assisting with an exhibit, he mentioned that he “enjoyed getting to see more of our own collection and getting to show it off to others.” He continued to volunteer with the CSO as he worked toward a degree in digital forensics and network security at Elgin Community College, and he recently took a position as a technology support specialist—concentrating on networking troubleshooting and architecture—at The Packaging Wholesalers.

Jack Vishneski

Jack Vishneski studied history (with minors in ethnomusicology and music) at Beloit College and was working as a freelance audio engineer and singer when he began his internship in the archives, where he learned about “the value of cultivating institutional memory, especially as a key component of the storytelling needed to (at minimum) survive and (one hopes) thrive in the non-profit arts sector.” Jack completed a master’s degree in musicology from the University of Minnesota, and he and his wife are expecting their first child in November.

Joe White

Following his internship in the archives, Joe White earned a master’s degree in composition from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College and has been active in the New York music and theater scene ever since. “Working at CSO right after undergrad was very affirming on many levels, as it provided confirmation that I wanted to seek out, and participate in, artistic communities. I learned that there was a place for me professionally and personally in my post-academic life.” His most recent work is the score to Alex Borinsky’s Clubbed Thumb play Of Government.

Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson completed her MLIS from Dominican University before starting her internship in the archives. “The CSO was the most amazing place to intern because I could marry my love of music with history and archives. It is also very hard to describe what it feels like to be going about your day with the life mask of Beethoven sitting on your work surface and watching over your every move!” Now residing in Houston, she freelances as a webmaster and researcher, and she currently is assisting a new company with planning and implementing its corporate archives. Cassandra also is personal assistant to her sister—opera singer and recent Richard Tucker Music Foundation award recipient—Tamara Wilson.

Riccardo Muti (Todd Rosenberg photo)

A recent Gramophone magazine article lists its fifty greatest conductors of all time, and several Chicago Symphony Orchestra titled conductors are prominently featured!

Current music director Riccardo Muti and former music directors Daniel BarenboimRafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, and Sir Georg Solti are squarely included, along with principal guest conductors Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, and Carlo Maria Giulini; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; and Ravinia Festival music directors James Levine and Seiji Ozawa.

According to the article, “A great conductor illuminates music you thought you knew in a way that you couldn’t possibly have imagined.” Indeed.

In the spring of 1976, the major American political parties had not yet hosted their conventions to nominate candidates for president. But on May 11—the day after the first of three concerts at Carnegie Hall by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg SoltiDonal Henahan of The New York Times had a suggestion:

img_9497

“Solti’s Chicagoans Stimulate a Yen to Yell”

It is pretty well agreed now, among decibel collectors, that the audiences at Chicago Symphony concerts make more noise than anybody. If you happen to pass Carnegie Hall tomorrow or Friday night and notice that sturdy old monument rocking slightly on its foundations, do not worry: It is only the Chicago orchestra’s fans going happily mad over a performance conducted by Sir Georg Solti. (Don’t run out to buy tickets, by the way; Chicago Symphony concerts are invariably sold out as soon as they are announced.)

The sheer fervor, somewhat resembling religious fanaticism, that characterizes the New York ovations for Chicago/Solti, is a phenomenon worth some sociologist’s study. Of course, the Chicago Symphony is one of the world’s great orchestras, and Sir Georg is undeniably one of the world’s most exciting conductors. The cheering is, therefore, aimed at real quality.

But the Dionysian frenzy that many observers have commented upon goes beyond ordinary enthusiasm into the category of the demonstration. Chicago players and Sir Georg himself have confessed that the intensity of these ovations in New York takes them aback. Thoughtful musicians cross their fingers, in fact. They have seen reputations rise and fall, for what seems too little reason either way, and know how capricious and irrational audiences can be.

The Chicago/Solti phenomenon has been compared to the cult that grew up around Toscanini and his NBC Symphony a generation ago, to the Stokowski fan clubs of his Philadelphia Orchestra years and to the von Karajan mystique in some sectors of the musical world today. Unsophisticated music listeners, with the help of judicious publicity agents, love to fasten upon an idol, to proclaim this or that artist “the greatest” and fall prostrate at mention of the holy name. Other and wiser folk simply like to cheer what they regard as the best. Cheering is an emotional purgative, a primal scream that often seems to do the screamer more good than the

The New York Times, May 11, 1976

The New York Times, May 11, 1976

Beyond the obvious fact of its lofty quality, there are several arguable rationalizations for the kind of hysteria regularly generated by the Chicago under Sir Georg. When the orchestra made its first Carnegie Hall appearances under him six years ago, many knowledgeable New Yorkers were simply flattened by what they heard. The Chicago Symphony—unlike the Cleveland under Szell, the Boston under Leinsdorf, the Philadelphia under Ormandy—had not been a regular visitor.

Fritz Reiner, who built the orchestra to its current level in the late 1950s, hated touring. He refused to do the kind of barnstorming to high prestige places that would have made the Chicago Symphony’s greatness apparent to more than the blessed few who heard it regularly in its own Orchestra Hall during Dr. Reiner’s ten‐year regime.

The fact, which Sir Georg readily admits, is that the Chicago Symphony as it stands (or sits) is largely the product of the Reiner years. The Solti genius has consisted in making splendid use of a ready‐made instrument. Not the least amazing thing about the Chicago’s current status as a symbol of excellence is that of all major American orchestras it is the oldest: Most of the players date back to the Reiner years before.

Another possible factor in the Chicago’s popularity is the high percentage of opera fans who frequent these concerts. One of Sir Georg’s first smash successes at Carnegie came in 1971 with a concert performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and he subsequently offered four other operatic attractions. His sixth, on Friday night, will be The Flying Dutchman.

Sir Georg, you remember, had been artistic director of London’s Covent Garden opera house, and his renown as an opera conductor fattened considerably when he completed the first Ring cycle ever produced on commercially available recordings, for London Records. And, since opera enthusiasts on the whole are famous—or notorious, as you wish—for treating their heroes and heroines to hysterical ovations, Chicago/Solti has not suffered from being attractive to the opera set.

prez

Another and probably more disputable conjecture: there existed in New York at the time of the Chicago/Solti arrival on the scene, a considerable number of people who yearned to hear concerts led by an unashamedly passionate “maestro,” preferably someone cast in the Toscanini mold. To some extent, Leonard Bernstein in his early years with the Philharmonic fulfilled the needs of this sizable and vocal constituency.

But when Pierre Boulez took charge of the Philharmonic these New Yorkers missed their former feeling of audience participation. They came to regard themselves as disenfranchised musical citizens. Mr. Boulez seemed to them more acoustical scientist than performer, and his analytical talents and objective approach to music were largely unappreciated. For this emotional breed of listener, the coming of Chicago/Solti offered a chance not merely to applaud but also—almost in the political sense of the word—to demonstrate. It was as if they were sending a message.

The yen to yell can come to be as important to certain audiences as the music itself. Opera fans, in particular, seem to regard their demonstrations of affection and approbation as part of the performance, and that can be obnoxious when carried too far. But any continuing audience, such as the one attracted by the Chicago/Solti concerts, is also acting out a communal claim to eliteness. It is proclaiming its own superior taste and knowledge, as well as showing the performers how much they are appreciated: We happy few who know what’s what, we proud melomaniacs, we who make (and can easily break) heroes, salute.

In any event, the Chicago Solti ovations are likely to go down among the legends of New York’s cultural life. And perhaps the explanation is simpler than suggested here. When the inevitable ranting and raving is heard at Carnegie Hall, it may merely be one sector of the musical electorate voting for its concept of what orchestral concerts should be. The Chicago Symphony for President, as it were. Well, we could do worse.

The 1976 U.S. presidential election was held on November 2, 1976. Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, the Democratic party candidate, ran against and defeated incumbent president Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the loss of Deborah Guscott, who was a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus’s alto section for twenty-eight seasons. Having most recently performed in Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet and Verdi’s Falstaff this past April under Riccardo Muti, she died on August 10, 2016, following a long illness.

Deborah Guscott (Jennifer Girard photo)

Deborah Guscott (Jennifer Girard photo)

A graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Guscott joined the Chicago Symphony Chorus at the invitation of founder and longtime director Margaret Hillis in 1987. For nearly thirty years, she regularly performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under three music directors—Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, and Muti—as well as Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Christoph Eschenbach, and James Conlon, among many others. Guscott appeared on numerous recordings—several of them Grammy Award winners—and performed in Orchestra Hall, Medinah Temple, and Carnegie Hall; at the Ravinia Festival; and on tour with the Orchestra and Chorus to London, Salzburg, and Berlin.

Guscott was a fixture on the Chicago vocal scene, performing with countless ensembles, including the Grant Park ChorusLight Opera Works, Music of the Baroque, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Bach Week FestivalOriana Singers, and Chicago a cappella, among many others. She was a soloist on several occasions for the Do-it-Yourself Messiah under Hillis and with the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest under its music director Jay Friedman. An active liturgical musician, Guscott worked at many churches and temples in the Chicagoland area, most recently as music director and cantor at both Saint Domitilla Parish in Hillside and Divine Providence Parish in Westchester.

Duain Wolfe, director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus since 1994, described his longtime colleague: “An alto with a particularly rich, luscious sound, Deb contributed significantly to the highly lauded sound of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. We are all very grateful for her gifts, both as an important musician in our ranks and as a strong, positive force who always found the silver lining in every cloud. Deb’s indomitable spirit has been an inspiration to all of us, and we will miss her greatly.”

Music director of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest—and CSO principal trombone—Jay Friedman added, “Deb Guscott was my go-to contralto for the past twenty years in many solo roles from opera to oratorio. She possessed a true contralto voice, something rare and perfect for Mahler, Wagner, and many other great masters. Deb was a fun person and a joy to work with—always upbeat and willing to rehearse at a moment’s notice—and she will be greatly missed.”

Christopher Bell, director of the Grant Park Chorus since 2002, shared his thoughts with the musicians of his chorus: “I was privileged to have Deb—a well known and beloved singer in Chicago—in the Grant Park Chorus and honored to be able to call her a friend. My abiding memory of my last visit with her will be of much laughter and hilarity, as we shared many memories and reminiscences. The Chicago singing community is a strong and closely knit one, and I know that you, like me, are saddened and shocked by this loss of one of our own. Today, I am thinking of you all and sharing your sorrow.”

There will be a service in her memory given at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica (3121 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago 60612) on Saturday, September 3, 2016, beginning at 11:00 a.m. The upcoming Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performances of Brahms’s A German Requiem on November 10, 11, and 12, 2016—a work that Guscott performed on many occasions with the Chorus—will be dedicated to her memory.

One of Guscott’s many solo performances with the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest under Friedman was of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony on November 16, 2003. A live recording of her singing the fourth movement—Urlicht—is available in the link below.

125_blog_banner

____________________________________________________

McBurney

Gerard McBurney (Dan Rest photo)

On November 13, 2005—under the leadership of Martha Gilmer, vice president of artistic administration, and composer and writer Gerard McBurney—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra launched Beyond the Score with an in-depth analysis followed by a complete performance of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. Daniel Harding conducted.

“The introduction deftly mixed vintage photos projected onto a huge overhead screen, excerpts from Strauss’s letters, commentary from his contemporaries, and short excerpts from the tone poem itself,” wrote Wynne Delacoma in the Chicago Sun-Times. “The pacing was seamless, the information on Strauss and his era coming in easily digestible but never watered-down nuggets. When the CSO played the entire work straight through after intermission, the large audience couldn’t help but feel like newly minted connoisseurs. Enjoying subtleties well below the surface beauties of Strauss’s tone poem, they were attentive, at times rapt. McBurney and his colleagues at the CSO succeeded brilliantly with the most difficult aspect of these kinds of programs: keeping the focus on the music.”

In May 2006, McBurney officially joined the staff of the CSOA as artistic programming advisor. Since then, the Beyond the Score concept evolved into freer and more vivid presentations and collaborations with a wide variety of art collections, scholars, libraries, folk musicians, and actors from all over the world.

A Pierre Dream

A Pierre Dream, November 14, 2014 (Todd Rosenberg photo)

Highlights of the series have included thorough analyses of Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Holst’s The Planets, and Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony. Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead and Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde were presented as seamless dramatizations, and Pierre Boulez led Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin and closely advised on Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire. Concertmaster Robert Chen was featured in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade; and Gwendolyn Brown, an alumna of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center, performed Negro spirituals as part of Dvořák’s New World Symphony. In 2014, McBurney—collaborating with architect Frank Gehry—presented a special and comprehensive examination of music by Pierre Boulez.

This article also appears here.

125_blog_banner

____________________________________________________

In March 1898, Theodore Thomas and the Chicago Orchestra embarked on a monthlong tour through Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. In New York, the tour included six concerts at the Metropolitan Opera House, one at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Orchestra’s debut in Carnegie Hall on March 7.

March 7, 1898

March 7, 1898

The program for Carnegie was entirely comprised of music by French composers, featuring the U.S. premiere of Franck’s Variations symphoniques and Saint-Saëns’s Fifth Piano Concerto, both with Raoul Pugno as soloist. Composer Alexandre Guilmant also appeared, as organ soloist in his Adoration, Allegro, and Final à la Schumann, as well as Lefebvre’s Méditation. Berlioz’s Overture to King Lear, Franck’s Le chasseur maudit, Saint-Saëns’s Le rouet d’Omphale, and Massenet’s Suite from Les Erinnyes rounded out the program.

The reviewer in Harper’s Bazaar praised the performances of both Pugno and Guilmant, “and the enjoyment of the afternoon was increased by the good work done by the Chicago Orchestra.” The New York Times added, “The Orchestra was heard to great advantage in Saint-Saëns’s symphonic poem, which was played with consummate finish, and Mr. Thomas’s accompaniments to the soloists were a source of joy.” And the New York Tribune heralded the concert as “an exhibition of virtuosity.”

The Orchestra has returned to Carnegie Hall on numerous occasions, under music directors Frederick Stock, Rafael Kubelík, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, and Riccardo Muti; principal guest conductors Carlo Maria Giulini, Claudio Abbado, and Pierre Boulez; principal conductor Bernard Haitink; chorus director and conductor Margaret Hillis; and associate conductor Henry Mazer.

This article also appears here.

125_blog_banner

____________________________________________________

Following performances in Chicago, Pierre Boulez led the Orchestra, Chorus (prepared by Margaret Hillis and singing in Hungarian), and soloists tenor John Aler and bass John Tomlinson in recording sessions for Bartók’s Cantata profana on December 16, 1991. Later that week, Boulez and the Orchestra recorded The Wooden Prince on December 20 and 21. Deutsche Grammophon paired both works and released the recording in early 1993.

Bartók Wooden Prince

“Boulez provides what is by far the best studio recording the [Cantata profana] has ever had . . . truly state-of-the-art in terms of sound,” wrote Rob Cowan in the March 1993 issue of Gramophone. “Boulez is able to command a shimmering hushed pp, yet the battle-hardy Allegro molto with its hectoring syncopations and warlike percussion, is full of grit and muscle. . . .The Chicago Symphony Chorus egg the proceedings on with tireless zeal.”

Regarding The Wooden Prince, Cowan continued: “Again, the soft music is wonderfully atmospheric: the ppp muted violins in the prelude have a ghostly pallor that is so typical of this orchestra’s quiet string playing, yet when all are enraged at full throttle, the effect is shattering. Detail is legion throughout: the basses, brass, and drums have immense presence (the Dance of the Trees issues an ominous growl), there’s plenty of percussion glitter in the chirpy Dance of the Princess with the wooden prince, and the work’s lyrical close is beautifully blended.”

On March 1, 1994, the recording was awarded four Grammy awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Orchestra’s performance of The Wooden Prince was recognized in the Best Orchestral Performance category, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus was awarded Best Performance of a Choral Work for its rendering of the Cantata profana. Rainer Maillard was recognized for his work in the Best Engineered Recording–Classical category, and the entire release won for Best Classical Album.

This article also appears here.

125_blog_banner

____________________________________________________

Pierre Boulez leads the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists at the Berlin Philharmonie on April 1, 1999

Pierre Boulez leads the Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists at the Berlin Philharmonie on April 1, 1999

At the Berlin Philharmonie on April 1, 1999—following two performances at Orchestra Hall on March 24 and 26—Pierre Boulez led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists in Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron. “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the equally formidable Chicago Symphony Chorus (appearing for the first time in Germany), Chris Merritt and David Pittmann-Jennings [in the title roles], chorus director Duain Wolfe, and, on top of it, a relaxed yet excited Pierre Boulez . . . led the ensemble effortlessly through the work,” praised Manuel Brug in Die Welt. The Orchestra “played the sometimes harsh notes without any brash force in beauty, glimmer, and warmth as if it were a score by Strauss. . . . The difficulty was handled like a walk in the park, especially with the almost perfect pronunciation of the Chorus, with magnificent presence.”

“The concert of the century!” proclaimed Klaus Geitel in the Berliner Morgenpost. “Under the truly magnificent leadership of Pierre Boulez, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its affiliated phenomenal chorus performed Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron: the ‘old testament’ of new music. . . . One should not expect to hear Schoenberg’s most demanding piece in comparable perfection ever again.”

Moses und Aron

The Orchestra and Chorus, under the direction of Sir Georg Solti, had performed Schoenberg’s opera twice previously at Orchestra Hall: on November 11, 12, and 13, 1971 (also with a run-out to Carnegie Hall on November 20), and again on April 19 and 21, 1984. Later that month, the opera was recorded at Orchestra Hall for London Records.

In Gramophone, Arnold Whittall observed that Solti’s “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’ . . . [explaining the] abiding fascination of Schoenberg’s last attempt to bring a great philosophical issue to dramatic life.” The recording won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.

This article also appears here and portions previously appeared here.

125_blog_banner

____________________________________________________

Detail of title page for Boulez's Notations VII

Detail of title page of the score to Boulez’s Notations VII

According to Phillip Huscher, “Pierre Boulez composed the original Notations for piano in 1945, when the twenty-year-old composer was still a student of Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. Boulez wrote twelve pieces, each twelve measures long (the number was central to the manifesto of the time). These Notations are concise, highly polished studies, each a precise and taut exploration of a single musical idea. Although Boulez quickly put them aside and moved on to greater challenges, they are among the works with which he opened a new chapter in the history of music.”

Boulez orchestrated the first four Notations in 1977 and 1978, and these versions were premiered by the Orchestre de Paris in 1980 with Daniel Barenboim conducting. Claudio Abbado led the Chicago Symphony’s first performances in October 1984, and Boulez himself conducted them with the Orchestra in October 1987. Near the end of the centennial season, music director designate Daniel Barenboim first led the Chicago Symphony in the four Notations in April 1991, and shortly thereafter, a second set of four orchestrations was commissioned for the Orchestra by the Edward F. Schmidt Family Commissioning Fund.

Teldec release

Daniel Barenboim and the Orchestra recorded Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Debussy’s La mer, and Boulez’s Notations VII for Teldec in January 2000

Boulez completed the first of these in 1997, and on January 14, 1999, the Orchestra gave the world premiere of Notations VII. Barenboim conducted the eight-minute work, followed by Pierre Boulez giving a brief discussion on his compositional process that included Barenboim performing the original piano version. Barenboim then conducted the work a second time. “What was abrupt in 1945 is now languorous; what was crude is now done with a lifetime’s experience and expertise; what was simple is fantastically embellished, even submerged,” wrote Paul Griffiths in The New York Times. “Boulez suggested the metaphor of long-buried grain sprouting, but one might rather think of an oyster making a pearl. As if irritated by the original piano piece, the composer has given it a sumptuous, dense, and opalescent coating, not only expanding it but also, in a way, withdrawing its shock. . . . The violent new influences of 1945 are, in the recomposition, being wiped away.”

Following the premiere, Barenboim led numerous performances of the five Notations in Chicago as well as on tour in Carnegie Hall, Berlin, Cologne, and Lucerne, and he included them during his farewell concerts as music director in June 2006. No. VII was recorded by Teldec in 2000.

This article also appears here.

the vault

Theodore Thomas

csoarchives twitter feed

chicagosymphony twitter feed

ChicagoSymphony Instagram

Maestro Riccardo Muti and the CSO last night at Palm Desert’s McCallum Theatre. The program included works Schubert, Schumann, and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major performed by CSO Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson. The link to the CSO's tour schedule is in our bio. Photos by @toddrphoto. #CSOonTour

disclaimer

The opinions expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

visitors

  • 249,737 hits
%d bloggers like this: