Music Reviews

Summer ends at the GPMF with “The Damnation of Faust”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic One of the signposts announcing that the end of the summer is near is the closing of the Grant Park Music Festival. This year’s final concerts of the season were two performances last week of “The Damnation of Faust,” dramatic legend in four parts, Op. 24, by Hector Berlioz.(…)

Hot fun in the city: the Grant Park Music Festival

Hot fun in the city: the Grant Park Music Festival

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic It was hot and humid last Wednesday night when the Grant Park Orchestra, led by artistic director Carlos Kalmar, performed at the Pritzker Pavilion with guest cellist Christian Poltera. Yet the weather didn’t deter concert-goers, with the Great Lawn full of picnics and the Seating Bowl nearly full. The(…)

Review: Exciting debut with Chicago Symphony  Orchestra at Ravinia

Review: Exciting debut with Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) in a gleaming and exciting debut at Ravinia, conducting two popular works last Tuesday night in the Ravinia Pavilion. Gimeno displayed both muscle and nuance in a marvelous performance of Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, “From the New World.” From the outset(…)

Hey ding a ding a ding: Shakespeare on the South Side

Hey ding a ding a ding: Shakespeare on the South Side

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic William Shakespeare died in 1616 and cultural institutions the world over are celebrating Shakespeare 400, a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of his death. Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, sponsored by the Chicago Park District, is just one small part of this massive celebration. One of their events took(…)

Review: Johnson’s Harlem Symphony and Menotti’s “The Consul”

Review: Johnson’s Harlem Symphony and Menotti’s “The Consul”

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Marin Alsop was the guest conductor at the Grant Park Music Festival last week and her two weekend concerts broke many of the rules for a classical music event. The first half featured full orchestra joined by a jazz combo. The second half opened with just three artists: a(…)

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(…)