Music Reviews

Super music of the supernatural

Super music of the supernatural

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Riccardo Muti, the current and tenth music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is back in Chicago to bring the CSO’s 2014 – 15 season to a close. Last week he led the orchestra in stirring renditions of music by Alexander Scriabin and Piotr Tchaikovsky. Saturday night’s concert opened(…)

Two successful seasons brought to a close in Hyde Park

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic When you can see summer coming without resort to squinting, you also know that the music season is coming to a close. Two performing groups with strong Hyde Park support, Baroque Band and the Chicago Ensemble, have both given their final performances of the 2014-15 season and both were(…)

Salonen sizzles at Symphony Center

Salonen sizzles at Symphony Center

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Esa-Pekka Salonen concluded his three weeks at Symphony Center with a concert at the end of May consisting of works by Debussy, Ravel and Messiaen. The Finnish conductor led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a riveting performance of some great French compositions. First on the program was the flute(…)

The wonderful dreamworld of Pelléas et Mélisande

The wonderful dreamworld of Pelléas et Mélisande

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” is one of the 20th century’s landmark scores, an ethereal setting of Maurice Maeterlinck’s symbolist play of the same name. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra tapped Esa-Pekka Salonen to conduct their first-ever complete performance of the opera, and the results were spectacular. In outline, the story is a(…)

Laughter through tears: The Chicago Ensemble at International House

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Chicago Ensemble offered a splendid concert on Sunday at International House, clearly establishing why they have been a fixture on the Chicago music scene for 38 years. In a performance with many superb moments, they made the greatest effect with two works exploring Jewish themes. Dmitri Shostakovich’s rich(…)

Nails in the coffin

Nails in the coffin

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic What: “A Coffin in Egypt” Where: Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St. When: Through May 3 Tickets: $35 – $125 Contact: chicagooperatheater.org. Frederica von Stade is a much admired and loved American mezzo-soprano. And rightly so: even as she approaches 70, her voice is captivating(…)

The past is never finished

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Lyric Opera of Chicago concluded their opera offerings this season with the world premiere of a mariachi opera by José “Pepe” Martínez with libretto by Leonard Foglia. “El Pasado Nunca Se Termina” (“The Past is Never Finished”) is a fascinating, entertaining work that ties together the tumultuous revolution in(…)

All you need is love — of the baroque

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic It has become commonplace for those offering concerts to give them a title. Sometimes the title imparts clear and useful information. Sometimes it is vague and flowery. Sometimes it is witty. Sometimes it is obscure. Sometimes it is pointless. Baroque Band titles their concerts in a way which offers(…)