Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti, 2nd Night

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 02.15.2012 Davies Hall, before the appearance of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.Wednesday night was the 2nd of the Chicago Symphony's two appearances in the SF Symphony's Centennial Season. A full string section played the Rosamunde Entr'acte, but they seemed quieter than a string quartet doing its best pianissimo. Even when the woodwinds & brass joined, the volume never rose above a piano. The clarinet played a simple & graceful solo, & everything had a soft ease.

Anna Clyne's Night Ferry requires a full orchestra plus lots of percussion. It opens with an umistakable depiction of a storm at sea, divided strings rising & falling, accompanied by thunder from 3 bass drums. The 20 minute piece then moves through a series of moods. One section features plinking sounds, like a gamelan, & another has ominous lowing from brasses, low strings & bass clarinet. There's a funny passage where a descending run passes through all the strings in one swoop. Though the piece has a few hulking climaxes, it eventually runs down & ends in silence. After the performance, it took the youthful composer a while to reach the stage, leaving Maestro Muti waiting by the door confusedly. The audience applauded the composer warmly.

The 2nd half was Schubert's Great Symphony in C. The orchestra played with flexible tempos, starting lazily then becoming more tight. Conductor Riccardo Muti was a tactful guide, sometimes standing still, sometimes ushering the orchestra from one section to the next. He moves freely & was always playfully in the moment. He jumped back from the 1st violins to indicate a swift cut-off. He made the grand pause in the 2nd movement startlingly tangible. I enjoyed the orchestra's blended sound & the way solos emerge distinctly but without popping out. The brasses were clean & smooth. I heard only one blurry note in the 3rd movement. The 4th movment was fast without being breathless, & the strings played tautly without sounding pointed or over-articulated. The final chord of every movement glowed. The audience, which seemed to have a lot of Russian-speaking patrons, was appreciative & gave the performance a standing ovation. The concert ran past 10pm, & I was sorry that there was no encore.

§ Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Schubert: Entr'acte No. 3 from Rosamunde
Anna Clyne: Night Ferry (CSO commission)
Schubert: Symphony in C major, The Great

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 8:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall

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