Music Reviews

Review: Two one-act operas highlight a pair of marvelous singers

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The summer event of South Shore Opera Company of Chicago (SSOCC) was an utterly splendid afternoon, with one-act operas by Kurt Weill and Gian Carlo Menotti. Both works centered around a single female character and both were cast with wonderful lead singer-actors. “The Seven Deadly Sins” is Weill’s rumination(…)

Review: Muti leads CSO in booming, beautiful season closer

Review: Muti leads CSO in booming, beautiful season closer

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The 125th season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concluded last month with an all-Bruckner program lead by music director Riccardo Muti. Before the performance on the penultimate Thursday of June (the first of three performances of the same program) Muti told the audience that the concert was dedicated to(…)

A fond farewell to a fabulous ensemble

By M.L. Rantala Classical Music Critic The first Friday of this month saw Hyde Park swarming with visitors, folks streaming into the neighborhood for alumni weekend at the University of Chicago or looking forward to the Annual 57th Street Art Fair. But the place to be that night was Augustana Lutheran Church, where Baroque Band(…)

Review: The end of a season and a revolutionary cello

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Chicago Ensemble concluded their 39th season at International House in Hyde Park ten days ago on a Sunday afternoon. The ensemble brought its usual mix of old and new chamber music and one player brought along an intriguing new instrument that had the audience buzzing at intermission. On(…)

Review: Amadeus Consort charms Woodlawn

Review: Amadeus Consort charms Woodlawn

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Members of the Amadeus Consort visited north Woodlawn Sunday afternoon to give a well-conceived concert of baroque music as part of the Shrine of Christ the King spring concert series under the general title “Hidden Treasures of the Baroque Era.” Although their grand church at 64th and Woodlawn suffered(…)

Review: Teenage cellist offers mature  concert  performance

Review: Teenage cellist offers mature concert performance

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lucie Ticho is a talented cellist from the Chicago suburbs about to embark on the next big step in her career. In the fall she will begin a joint program at Columbia and Juilliard and this summer she will travel to Europe with the National Youth Orchestra of the(…)

The fabulous smoky edges of classical music

What: “The King and I” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through May 22 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic I heard some splendid music over the weekend at two very different venues. Neither event could be considered fully within the mainstream of classical music, and some of it wasn’t classical(…)

Review: Emotional Farewell to the Pacifica Quartet

Review: Emotional Farewell to the Pacifica Quartet

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Back in the last century the Pacifica Quartet made their first concert appearance at the University of Chicago. It was in Fulton Recital Hall, a rather small venue primarily used for student performances. Yet it was the beginning of something big — 17 years big. The Pacifica Quartet came(…)

Singing strings in Hyde Park

Singing strings in Hyde Park

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Artemis Quartet made their Chicago debut earlier this month, the first stop on a nine stop American tour. Their Mandel Hall performance, hosted by University of Chicago Presents, was a musical success as well as a crowd pleaser. The quartet — made up of violinists Vineta Sareika and(…)

Review: A magical recorder

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Performance Hall at the Logan Center for the Arts was the venue for a spectacular evening of early music when the University of Chicago Presents hosted Dorothee Oberlinger, an unforgettable virtuoso on the recorder. Oberlinger is a supremely agile and versatile musician. She put her prowess on display(…)

Young singers command the stage at Lyric Opera’s Rising Stars concert

Young singers command the stage at Lyric Opera’s Rising Stars concert

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center is a training program for young, emerging opera singers which offers instruction and performance opportunities for talented singers. The Rising Stars concert is an annual event that turns the main stage at the Civic Opera House over(…)

Two pleasing  ensembles

Two pleasing ensembles

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Last Friday the Bach and Beethoven Ensemble presented an interesting program of music for countertenor and violin. The performance took place at the unlikely hour of 11 a.m. in a Lakeview residential building, but had all the musical drama and sophistication of a glitzy Friday night event. The highlights(…)

Review: Glorious 19th century opera and operetta

What: “Romeo and Juliet” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Mar. 19 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The year 2016 has found countless cultural institutions around the globe honoring the same thing: the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Lyric Opera of Chicago’s contribution to “Shakespeare 400”(…)

Review: The remarkable artistry of Jordi Savall

Review: The remarkable artistry of Jordi Savall

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Mandel Hall was the site of a remarkable display of artistry on Friday night when University of Chicago Presents hosted the early music artist Jordi Savall. The audience was enraptured by his performance of a wide range of Celtic folk songs that Savall had collected under the title, “Man(…)

A trio of concerts: from Hyde Park to the South Loop

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Philip Glass, one of the world’s most popular and influential living composers, capped off a three-day residency at the University of Chicago at the end of February with a concert devoted to his entire output of piano etudes. Glass himself and four other pianists, hosted by University of Chicago(…)

Review: “Der Rosenkavalier”

Review: “Der Rosenkavalier”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Mar. 13 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago is now presenting the comic masterpiece “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss. It premiered in 1911 in Dresden and came to Lyric, when it first staged the work at the Civic Opera House(…)

I-House and Harris  Theater host unusual performances

I-House and Harris Theater host unusual performances

What: “La Voix Humaine” and “Gianni Schicchi” Where: Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph St.) When: Through Feb. 14 Tickets: cot.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The opening night for the first of two performances of a double bill proved to be a winner for Chicago Opera Theater on Saturday. General director Andreas Mitisek has(…)

A towering “Nabucco” at Lyric Opera shows off Verdi’s early masterpiece

What: “Nabucco” Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Dr. When: Through Feb. 12 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago’s first new offering of the year is “Nabucco,” the opera which helped to establish Verdi early in his career. This production features stellar singing, dramatic stage dressing, and unusual costumes(…)

McGill and Marlboro musicians at Mandel: red hot chamber music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Marlboro Music Festival, founded in 1951 by Rudolf Serkin and several others, takes place over seven weeks every summer at Marlboro College in southern Vermont. Experienced musicians work with and mentor young talent. They all study and rehearse great works of the chamber music repertoire and offer public(…)