Music Reviews

Stunning voices in uneven “Tannhäuser”

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through March 6 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” pits profane and sacred love against each other in battle for the title character’s soul. Lyric Opera of Chicago now offers the opera in a production new to Chicago, the first time it has(…)

A swift substitute saves the evening for University of Chicago Presents

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic One of the biggest problems a music presenter faces is what to do when an artist cancels at short notice. Amy Iwano, executive director of University of Chicago Presents, had just this problem when she learned only days before last Friday’s scheduled performance that violinist Isabelle Faust was ill(…)

Baroque Band gets beastly

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Baroque Band started off the new year with three performances of a program entitled “Beastie Boyz” which highlighted works that had a few things to say about our relatives in the Animal Kingdom. Having missed the band’s Hyde Park performance, I caught them on a recent Wednesday night in(…)

Northern Harmony Quartet warms a winter night

Northern Harmony Quartet warms a winter night

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Vittoria Aleotti (ca. 1573-1646) was one of five daughters of the successful Italian architect Giovanni Battista Aleotti, a resident of Ferrara. Vittoria’s musical talent was recognized early and she was first given private lessons with the accomplished musicians Alessandro Milleville and Ercole Pasquini. Later, at the tender age of(…)

Central Europe genius on display at CSO

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Manfred Honeck is an Austrian native with deep roots in the central European music scene. His work has included stints in Vienna, Zurich, Leipzig and Stuttgart and he is now the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Honeck was the guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO)(…)

Before she lost her head: “Anna Bolena” at Lyric

Before she lost her head: “Anna Bolena” at Lyric

Where: Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through Jan. 16, 2015 Phone: 312-332-2244 By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic For only the second time in its 60-year history, Lyric Opera of Chicago is presenting Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.” It’s a long work (this production clocks in at three-and-a-half hours), but one full of engrossing music(…)

Rising Russian pianist wows Chicago

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic University of Chicago Presents (UCP) scored big once again last month when they hosted the Chicago debut of Denis Kozhukhin. This pianist made his name by winning the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels when he was only 23. Later this season he will perform with the Chicago Symphony(…)

A winning “Porgy and Bess”

A winning “Porgy and Bess”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Like so many great operas, “Porgy and Bess” was not initially a hit. Critics were underwhelmed when it premiered in the 1930s and when the Civil Rights Movement found its stride, many considered this folk opera to be deprecating to the African Americans who made up its characters. We’ve(…)