The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti in Mexico

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josé echenique
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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti in Mexico

Post by josé echenique » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:33 am

American orchestras are frequent visitors to Mexico´s concert halls for obvious reasons. Over the years we have had the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the most frequent guest of all, the New York Philharmonic. The one of the major orchestras that was missing, was surprisingly the Chicago Symphony. I remember that in the Solti years, 1975 or 76, a tour to Mexico was announced with Carlo Maria Giulini, but for one reason or another that never came to be. Well, now we had the pleasure of having them in the Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato and yesterday in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.
It was a glorious concert. 2 big romantic symphonies: the Franck symphony and the Brahms Second.
Riccardo Muti has recorded both works with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and if you know the recordings you get the idea of what he did with the CSO.
The Franck had impressive organ-like sonorities from the cellos and basses. In the second movement we sampled the greatness of the fabulous Chicago winds, a marvelous oboe (the last time I heard the CSO in Symphony Hall, Ray Still was still first oboe, but was glad to see Dale Clevenger still in his chair) but all the winds were terrific, and Muti gave them ample time to phrase with individuality and elegance.
In the Solti years the CSO´s ffff were a little hard and alarming. Muti favored more tempered fortes, they were never just loud, but majestical and imposing. I loved his Franck, it was a very atmospheric and lovely performance, perhaps not as Gallic as the unsurpassed Monteux with the same orchestra, but God knows I have heard far worse.

The last time I heard the Brahms 2 live was exactly 2 years ago with Simon Rattle and the Boston Symphony. It was of course a competent performance, very well played, but I reported here that merely OK wouldn´t do for the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, it was unexceptional.
What Riccardo Muti and the CSO gave us was anything but unexceptional, it was an extraordinary, life enhancing performance. Violins, violas, cellos and basses positively glowed, and the winds again were to die for. I´ve always thought that the Second Symphony was the most successful of Muti´s Brahms cycle with Philadelphia, and it´s obvious that the Neapolitan maestro loves the work. The second movement was utterly unforgettable, broadly but lovingly phrased, it was a love affair with Brahms, and the finale thrillingly played, couldn´t be more joyful.
What I loved the most was that this was not a "showy" performance, the CSO didn´t use the music just to show off their capabilities, but a deeply musical, warm hearted realization of Brahms´s sunniest symphony.
I have heard some fine Brahms 2 in my life: Franz Welser-Möst with the London Philharmonic, Christoph von Dohnanyi with the Cleveland Orchestra, Hans Vonk with Den Haag Orchester, Leonard Slatkin with the St. Louis Symphony, among others, but now I think Muti/CSO is the finest in my experience.
I hope this will be the first of many visits of the CSO to Mexico, we are deeply grateful.

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Re: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti in Mexi

Post by Lance » Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:40 pm

Very warm and heartfelt review. I've always held both, the BSO and CSO are my favs ... love them equally. Thank you!
Lance G. Hill

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]


josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti in Mexi

Post by josé echenique » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:28 am

You´re welcome dear Lance. I forgot to mention that we got a misty and atmospheric Giuseppe Martucci "Notturno" as an encore.

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