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We have just heard news of the death of the wonderful Irish soprano Heather Harper, as reported in The Guardian. She was 88.

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

April 3, 4, and 5, 1969
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Watts, contralto
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 11 and 12, 1969
HAYDN The Creation
Georg Solti, conductor
Stuart Burrows, tenor
Giorgio Tozzi, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

August 30, 31 & September 1, 1971 (recording sessions at the Sofiensaal in Vienna)
MAHLER Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major
Georg Solti, conductor
Lucia Popp, soprano
Arleen Augér, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Helen Watts, contralto
René Kollo, tenor
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Martti Talvela, bass
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Norbert Balatsch, chorus master
Singverein Chorus
Helmut Froschauer, chorus master
Vienna Boys’ Choir
David Harvey produced the recording, and Gordon Parry and Kenneth Wilkinson were the engineers for London Records. The recording won the 1972 Grammy Award for Album of the Year—Classical, Best Choral Performance—Classical (other than opera), and Best Engineered Recording—Classical from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

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

March 30, 31, and April 1, 1972
HANDEL Jephtha
Margaret Hillis, conductor
Helen Watts, contralto
Richard Lewis, tenor
Robert Johnson, tenor
Barry McDaniel, baritone
Boris Carmeli, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

October 12, 13, and 14, 1972
VIVALDI Gloria
ROSSINI Stabat mater
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
Veriano Luchetti, tenor
Raffaele Arié, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

March 7, 8, and 9, 1974
TIPPETT Symphony No. 3
Sir Michael Tippett, conductor

April 12 and 13, 1974
BACH Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Watts, contralto
Jerry Jennings, tenor
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Philip Booth, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

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Wishing a very happy ninetieth birthday to the wonderful mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig!

Christa Ludwig in 1967 as Fricka in Wagner’s Die Walküre (Metropolitan Opera photo)

Ludwig has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions, at Orchestra Hall, the Ravinia Festival, and Carnegie Hall, as follows (concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

February 20, 21, and 25, 1958
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Richard Lewis, tenor

October 26 and 27, 1967
MAHLER Songs from Des knaben Wunderhorn
Alfred Wallenstein, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano

July 7, 1970 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
István Kertész, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano

April 24, 25, and 26, 1980
May 2 and 3, 1980 (Carnegie Hall)
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Christa Ludwig in 2014 (Ernst Kainerstorfer photo)

April 25, 26, and 27, 1985
April 29, 1985 (Carnegie Hall)
VERDI Falstaff
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Guillermo Sarabia, baritone
Wolfgang Brendel, baritone
Yordi Ramiro, tenor
Heinz Zednik, tenor
Francis Egerton, tenor
Aage Haugland, bass
Katia Ricciarelli, soprano
Kathleen Battle, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 5, 1991 (Ravinia Festival)
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
James Levine, conductor
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Gary Lakes, tenor

Happy, happy birthday!

Phyllis Curtin

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family joins the music world in mourning the loss of the extraordinary American soprano Phyllis Curtin, a frequent guest artist who performed under three music directors—Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, and Sir Georg Solti—between 1957 and 1972. Curtin died on June 5, 2016, at her home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She was 94.

Curtin made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival in 1957, and she most recently appeared at Orchestra Hall in 1972. A complete list of her appearances with the Orchestra is below (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

July 7, 1957 (Ravinia Festival)
FOSS The Song of Songs
Lukas Foss, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano

Reiner B9

April 27 and 28, 1961
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Florence Kopleff, contralto
John McCollum, tenor
Donald Gramm, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was recorded by RCA on May 1 and 2, 1961, in Orchestra Hall. The recording recently was re-released as part of a sixty-three-disc set featuring Reiner’s complete discography with the Orchestra.

April 26 and 27, 1962
HANDEL Israel in Egypt
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Carol Smith, mezzo-soprano
Richard Lewis, tenor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 9, 1964 (Ravinia Festival)
MOZART Voi che sapete from The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
MOZART Alleluia from Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165
J. STRAUSS, Jr. Czárdás and Mein Herr Marquis from Die Fledermaus
KORNGOLD Glück das mir verblieb from Die tote Stadt
LEHÁR Dein is mein ganzes Herz from Das Land des Lächelns
SIECZYNSKI Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume
Andre Kostelanetz, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano

April 22, 23, and 24, 1965
HAYDN The Seasons
Jean Martinon, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Charles Bressler, tenor
Ara Berberian, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

January 6, 7, and 8, 1966
PERGOLESI Stabat Mater
Jean Martinon, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano
STRAVINSKY Les noces
Jean Martinon, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano
André Montal, tenor
Peter Harrower, bass-baritone
Mary Sauer, Laurence Davis, Louis M. Kohnop, and Eloise Niwa, pianos
Donald Koss, Gordon Peters, James J. Ross, Sam Denov, Albert Payson, and Norbert Szymanski, percussion
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 1, 2, and 3, 1966
MARTINON The Rose of Sharon (U.S. premiere)
Jean Martinon, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Ernst Haefliger, tenor
Joseph Brewer, tenor
Harold Robinson, baritone
Mary Sauer and Harriet Wingreen, pianos
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 14 and 15, 1970
JANÁČEK Glagolitic Mass
Charles Mackerras, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Joan Caplan, mezzo-soprano
John Alexander, tenor
Ara Berberian, bass
Mary Sauer, organ
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

January 20, 21, and 22, 1972
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 14, Op. 135
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Raffaele Arié, bass

June 27, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BRITTEN War Requiem, Op. 66
István Kertész, György Fischer, and Margaret Hillis, conductors
Phyllis Curtin, soprano
Robert Tear, tenor
John Shirley-Quirk, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Northwestern University Chorus and Northwestern University Concert Choir
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

November 30 and December 1, 1972
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Phyllis Curtin, soprano (substituting for contralto Josephine Veasey)
Stuart Burrows, tenor
Robert Savoie, baritone
Roger Soyer, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

____________________________________________________

During his tenure as music director, Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra traveled to Carnegie Hall nearly every season. A complete list of those concerts are below:

January 8, 1970
HAYDN Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major
BARTÓK Dance Suite
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

January 9, 1970
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
Helen Watts, contralto
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

December 7, 1970
LEVY Concerto for Piano No. 1
Earl Wild, piano
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

December 8, 1970
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

April 27, 1971
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Woglinde Karen Altman, soprano
Wellgunde Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Helen Watts, contralto
Alberich Rolf Kuhne, bass
Wotan David Ward, bass
Fricka Mignon Dunn, mezzo-soprano
Freia Karen Altman, soprano
Fasolt Martti Talvela, bass
Fafner Hans Sotin, bass
Donner Thomas Paul, bass
Froh Kenneth Riegel, tenor
Loge Gerhard Stolze, tenor
Mime John Lanigan, tenor
Erda Helen Watts, contralto

November 17, 1971
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97 (Rhenish)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
WAGNER Prelude to Act 1 of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

November 20, 1971
SCHOENBERG Moses and Aron
Moses Hans Hotter, speaker
Aron 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, 1972
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (Unfinished)
MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
Shirley Verrett, mezzo-soprano
Stuart Burrows, tenor

April 22, 1972
CARTER Variations for Orchestra
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14A

December 6, 1972
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marguerite Josephine Veasey, contralto
Faust Stuart Burrows, tenor
Mephistopheles Robert Savoie, baritone
Brander Roger Soyer, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

December 9, 1972
MENDELSSOHN Overture to Fingal’s Cave, Op. 26
BARTÓK Concert for Violin, No. 2
Isaac Stern, violin
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

May 2, 1973
WAGNER Act 3 of Götterdämmerung
Gutrune Karen Altman, soprano
Brunnhilde Helga Dernesch, soprano
Woglinde Barbara Pearson, soprano
Wellgunde Gwendolyn Jones, mezzo-soprano
Flosshilde Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jess Thomas, tenor
Gunther Donald Gramm, bass
Hagen Martti Talvela, bass
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Richard Boldrey, assistant director

May 4, 1973
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

November 14, 1973
WEBER Overture to Oberon
HENZE Heliogabalus Imperator
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 (Eroica)

November 17, 1973
BACH Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
MAHLER Symphony No. 6 in A Minor

May 1, 1974
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
BARTÓK Bluebeard’s Castle
Judith Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
Bluebeard Zoltán Kelemen, baritone

May 4, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 (Haffner)
ELGAR Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (Enigma)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

December 17, 1974
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Samuel Magad, violin
Ralph Zeitlin, recorder
Ray Still, oboe
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
SCHOENBERG Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

December 18, 1974
STRAUSS Salome
Salome Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Herodias Ruth Hesse, mezzo-soprano
Herod Antipas Ragnar Ulfung, tenor
Jokanaan Norman Bailey, baritone
Slave Sarah Beatty, soprano
The Page of Herodias Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Narraboth George Shirley, tenor
Cappadocian Gershon Silins, bass
Two Nazarenes Cory Winter, tenor; Franz Mazura, bass-baritone
Four Jews Philip Creech, Jerry Jennings, John Lanigan, and William Wahman, tenors; Eugene Johnson, bass
Two Soldiers Curtis Dickson and Thomas Paul, basses

December 20, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
ELGAR Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 63

December 21, 1974
MOZART Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

April 29, 1975
STRAVINSKY Symphony in C
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major

April 30, 1975
VERDI Requiem
Leontyne Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 2, 1975
HAYDN Symphony No. 101 in D Major (The Clock)
LISZT Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major
Tamás Vásáry, piano
STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

May 10, 1976
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36
STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28

May 12, 1976
MENDELSSOHN Selections from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Alicia de Larrocha, piano
DEBUSSY La mer

May 14, 1976
WAGNER Der fliegende Höllander
The Dutchman Norman Bailey, bass-baritone
Senta Janis Martin, soprano
Daland Martti Talvelabass
Erik René Kollo, tenor
The Steersman Werner Krenntenor
Mary Isola Jonesmezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 8, 1976
MOZART Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K. 546
VERDI Four Sacred Pieces
Jo Ann Pickens, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
WALTON Belshazzar’s Feast
David Ward, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 10, 1976
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

November 12, 1976
RAVEL Le tombeau de Couperin
DEBUSSY Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun
RAVEL La valse
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

May 9, 1977
HAYDN Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73

May 11, 1977
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)
MAHLER Symphony No. 5

May 13, 1977
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis, Op. 123
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

Solti was scheduled to conduct four concerts at Carnegie Hall in October and November 1977; however after suffering a fall in Chicago, he was forced to cancel the first two appearances. The October 31 performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was conducted by Chorus Director Margaret Hillis, and the November 1 program (identical to the November 2 concert) was led by Associate Conductor Henry Mazer.

November 2, 1977
ROSSINI Overture to The Barber of Seville
STRAVINSKY Jeu de cartes
STRAUSS Four Last Songs
Lucia Popp, soprano
STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20

November 4, 1977
TIPPETT Symphony No. 4
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

May 8, 1978
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Alfred Brendel, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

May 9, 1978
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 10, 1978
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15
Alfred Brendel, piano
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68

May 12, 1978
BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
BRAHMS A German Requiem, Op. 45
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Bernd Weikl, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

May 14 & 15, 1979
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major

May 16 & 18, 1979
MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov Prelude to Khovanshchina
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 1, Op. 10
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D. 944 (Great)

May 19, 1979
BEETHOVEN Fidelio, Op. 72
Leonore Hildegard Behrens, soprano
Marzelline Sona Ghazarian, soprano
Florestan Peter Hofmann, tenor
Jaquino David Kübler, tenor
Don Pizarro Theo Adam, baritone
Rocco Hans Sotin, bass
Don Fernando Gwynne Howell, bass
Two Prisoners Robert Johnson, tenor and Philip Kraus, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, chorus director

April 28 & 30, 1980
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 (Pastorale)
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

April 29, 1980
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56 (Scottish)
WAGNER “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser
Leontyne Price, soprano
WAGNER Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Leontyne Price, soprano
MUSSORGSKY/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition

May 2 & 3, 1980
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Resurrection)
Isobel Buchanan, soprano
Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 27 & 29, 1981
MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major

April 28, 1981
BRUCKNER Symphony No.4 in E-flat Major (Romantic)
BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra

May 1 & 2, 1981
BERLIOZ The Damnation of Faust, Op. 24
Marguerite Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Faust Kenneth Riegel, tenor (May 1); Peyo Garazzi, tenor (May 2)
Mephistopheles José van Dam, baritone
Brander Malcolm King, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus
Doreen Rao, director

April 18, 1983
WAGNER Das Rheingold
Wotan Siegmund Nimsgern, bass-baritone
Alberich Hermann Becht, baritone
Fricka Gabriele Schnaut, mezzo-soprano
Loge Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Mime Robert Tear, tenor
Erda Jan DeGaetani, mezzo-soprano
Fafner Malcolm Smith, bass
Fasolt Gwynne Howell, bass
Freia Mary Jane Johnson, soprano
Donner John Cheek, bass-baritone
Froh Dennis Bailey, tenor
Woglinde Michelle Harman-Gulick, soprano
Wellgunde Elizabeth Hynes, soprano
Flosshilde Emily Golden, mezzo-soprano

April 19, 1983
MOZART Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 (From the New World)

April 29, 1985
VERDI Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff Guillermo Sarabia, baritone
Ford Wolfgang Brendel, baritone
Fenton Yordi Ramiro, tenor
Dr. Caius Heinz Zednik, tenor
Bardolph Francis Egerton, tenor
Pistol Aage Haugland, bass
Mistress Alice Ford Katia Ricciarelli, soprano
Nannetta Kathleen Battle, soprano
Mistress Quickly Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Mistress Meg Page Ann Murray, mezzo-soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

April 30, 1985
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9, Op. 70
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Unfinished)

May 1, 1985
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op 56a
LUTOSŁAWSKI Symphony No. 3
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

May 3, 1985
MAHLER Symphony No. 7 in E Minor

May 4, 1985
BERG Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6
BERG Concerto for Violin
Salvatore Accardo, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

May 18, 1987
MAHLER Symphony No. 9

May 19, 1987
STRAUSS Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40
STRAVINSKY The Rite of Spring

May 20, 1987
HAYDN Symphony No. 103 in E-flat Major (Drumroll)
BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major

February 10, 1989
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, D. 485
SCHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 65

February 11, 1989
BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
BARTÓK Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

April 15 & 18, 1991
TIPPETT Byzantium
Faye Robinson, soprano
MAHLER Symphony No. 5


April 16 & 19, 1991

VERDI Otello
Otello Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
Desdemona Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Iago Leo Nucci, baritone
Emilia Elzbieta Ardam, mezzo-soprano
Cassio Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor
Roderigo John Keyes, tenor
Montano Alan Opie, baritone
Lodovico Dimitri Kavrakos, bass
A Herald Richard Cohn, baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Terry Edwards, guest chorus master
Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus
Elena Doria, director

____________________________________________________

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.”

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With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Georg Solti conducted Bach’s monumental Saint Matthew Passion on four different occasions at Orchestra Hall:

April 9 and 10, 1971
Jesus: Tom Krause
Evangelist: Richard Lewis
Aria soloists: Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Richard Lewis, Donald Gramm
Other vocal soloists: Alfred Reichel, Stephen Swanson, Nancy Clevenger, Ellen Rico, Linda Mabbs, Jack Abraham, Eugene Johnson, Frederic Chrislip, Karen Zajac
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, DeVere Moore, Victor Aitay, Sidney Weiss, Eva Heinitz
Continuo: Eloise Niwa, Frank Miller, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Theatre Chorus; Barbara Born, director
These performances were dedicated to the memory of Igor Stravinsky, who had died on April 6, 1971.

April 12 and 13, 1974
Jesus: Gwynne Howell
Evangelist: Mallory Walker
Aria soloists: Heather Harper, Helen Watts, Jerry Jennings, Philip Booth
Other vocal soloists: Alfred Reichel, Curtis Dickson, Gershon Silins, Stephen Swanson, Donna Gullstrand, Alexis Darden, Sarah Beatty, Richard Livingston, Philip Creech, Isola Jones
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Victor Aitay, Samuel Magad, John Hsu
Continuo: Eloise Niwa, Mary Sauer, Frank Miller, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director

April 4 and 6, 1985
Jesus: Wolfgang Schoene
Evangelist: Anthony Rolfe Johnson
Aria soloists: Pamela Coburn, Brigitte Fassbaender, Thomas Moser, Siegmund Nimsgern
Other vocal soloists: Bruce Cain, Richard Cohn, Jane Green, Joan Welles, Doris Kirschner, Karen Zajac, Tim O’Connor
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Richard Kanter, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Victor Aitay, Samuel Magad, Catharina Meints
Continuo: Mary Sauer, David Schrader, Richard Webster, Leonard Chausow, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Doreen Rao, director

Saint Matthew Passion recording session in Orchestra Hall

March 19 and 21, 1987
Jesus: Olaf Bär
Evangelist: Hans Peter Blochwitz
Aria soloists: Kiri Te Kanawa, Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Moser, Tom Krause
Other vocal soloists: Richard Cohn, Patrice Michaels, Debra Austin, William Watson
Obbligati: Donald Peck, Richard Graef, Louise Dixon, Walfrid Kujala, Ray Still, Judith Kulb, Grover Schiltz, Michael Henoch, Samuel Magad, Rubén González, Catharina Meints, Mary Sauer
Continuo: David Schrader, John Sharp, Joseph Guastafeste
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director
Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus; Lucy Ding, acting director

Following the performances in March 1987, the work was recorded for London Records. Andrew Cornall was the producer, and Simon Eadon and John Pellowe were the engineers.

Solti, members of the Orchestra, and soloists listen to playbacks

I inadvertently neglected to include the 1971 performances in the first version of this post. —FV

We have lost a great one. 

Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester passed away last week in Toronto at the age of 79. Beautifully written tributes have been published in the Montreal Gazette and in The New York Times.

Forrester made quite an impression here in Chicago. At the age of twenty-seven, she made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem on March 13 and 14, 1958. Those now historic concerts also included the subscription concert debut of Margaret Hillis‘s newly formed Chicago Symphony Chorus and would also be the final Chicago appearances of beloved guest conductor Bruno Walter.

Her biography from that first program could not have been more modest: “Miss Forrester is a Canadian singer who made her New York recital debut in November 1956; in February, 1957, she appeared with the New York Philharmonic with Bruno Walter. She recently returned from her third European tour.”

Even though Mozart’s Requiem is hardly a showcase for the alto soloist, Forrester’s performance certainly attracted Claudia Cassidy’s attention in her review for the Chicago Tribune: “stately Maureen Forrester of the contralto so big, warm and gentle it makes you feel rested just to listen . . . [part of] a wonderful Mozart quartet.”

Forrester’s second appearances in Chicago were on November 5 and 6, 1959, when she performed what was to become one of her signature works, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Welsh tenor Richard Lewis and conducted by music director Fritz Reiner. The recording, made on November 7 and 10, has never gone out of print.

Forrester would go on to appear with the CSO on numerous occasions, both at Orchestra Hall and at the Ravinia Festival, in a wide variety of repertoire: Pablo Casals’s El pessebre (conducted by the composer); Beethoven’s Ninth, Bach’s Saint John Passion, Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody (Jean Martinon); Verdi’s Requiem and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (William Steinberg); Mahler’s Third (James Levine and Edo de Waart); Dvořák’s Stabat mater (Rafael Kubelík); and her final performance in Chicago in Mahler’s Second in 1988 (Zubin Mehta).
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One more thing. In 1995, we released the tenth volume of our From the Archives series of recordings (a limited release, featuring works that had been broadcast but not previously commercially released). The name of the set was Great Soloists and included performances with the CSO by Emanuel Feuermann, Zino Francescatti, Håkan Hagegård, Leonid Kogan, Byron Janis, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Andrés Segovia, and Maureen Forrester’s 1968 performance of Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer with Jean Martinon conducting.

Since the recording was produced to be a fundraiser premium, all participants — orchestra members, soloists, publishers, etc. — were asked to donate their services. Of course, we offered each artist a couple of complimentary copies of the finished product. Forrester agreed for her performance to be included and had only one request: that we send a copy of the recording to each of her five grandchildren.

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Theodore Thomas

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

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