Leave It To Ludwig

The conceit is that a young pianist (James F.Giles) is having trouble realizing an early Beethoven Piano Sonata in C minor, when a bust of the composer which he had ordered arrives. Placed on a table beside the piano, the bust magically becomes a real-life, and, if I may say so, utterly convincing, Ludwig Van Beethoven (Bruce Adolphe), who, on hearing the pianist, bursts into a rhapsodic remonstration on how to realize his music with all it proper depth and subtlety.

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deWaart Conducts Brahms – And Mutilates Mozart

On paper, the current CSO program, led by Edo de Waart (substituting again for Riccardo Muti), looked sure-fire: Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, the Jupiter, is arguably the greatest symphony of perhaps the greatest symphonist not named Beethoven; and a case could be made that Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 represents the height of the symphony after Beethoven’s death. However, one would not necessarily register the stature of these great works, the Mozart in particular, from this evening’s often lifeless performances.

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All-Beethoven

This evening’s CSO program marks the second time in the past three seasons that music director Riccardo Muti has had to bow out of a scheduled performance of Beethoven’s legendary Eroica Symphony; Muti developed a case of the flu and was replaced for the duration of his present two-week engagement by Edo de Waart, currently music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Given the short notice on which he took up the program, de Waart led finely polished and alert performances that often lacked the last degree of dramatic intensity.

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Dutoit Leads CSO in Varied and Gripping Program

Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit brought his two-week engagement with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra off to an auspicious start Thursday night with a highly compelling presentation of music by Britten, William Walton, and Beethoven. The conductor coaxed the very best out of this formidable ensemble, ensuring, with the help of a comparably impressive solo contribution from violinist Gil Shaham, that this would not be just another routine night at the symphony.

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Three B’s… With a Twist

The program was billed as “Three B’s… With a Twist”; the “twist” was a partial change, with two of the so-called Three B’s of Classical Music, Bach and Brahms, replaced by Boccherini and Bartok, but the third, Beethoven, left intact. The quartet gave a remarkable performance in this first installment of its three-part series this season in the Logan Center, even if I, for one, was not entirely impressed by the “revision of the Three B’s.”

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Brahms Double Concerto

In short, if you desire thoroughly gripping readings of these great warhorses, you might not find it here; but for anyone open to an unusually “sweetened” take on a composer with a reputation for being a bit dour, or to simply hearing a great orchestra in two thoroughly wonderful pieces, this program has undeniable merit.

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Rare Gems; An Old Favorite at Raging Speeds: Van Zweden conducts Beethoven 7 at the CSO

I have never heard anyone take nearly so fast and sustained a tempo as Van Zweden does here, and that includes Toscanini’s 1939 recording with the NBC Orchestra. It all seems to work rather well in the opening introduction ,marked Allegro sostenuto: This beautifully simplistic introduction so often feels lifeless and dull, sacrilege to what are some of the most brilliantly serene passages in the entire work.

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