Music Reviews

Review: Chicago Ensemble closes season with flair

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The Chicago Ensemble’s 36th Hyde Park season came to a close on the Sunday of Alumni Weekend with a pleasant afternoon concert at International House, 1414 E. 59th St., replete with champagne and many smiling faces. The concert opened with the Trio-sonata in C Major by J.J. Quantz, performed(…)

Review: A river runs through it

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic June 14, 1933, was a barrier-breaking day: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, led by Frederick Stock, premiered Symphony in E Minor by Florence Price. It was the first time a substantial work by a Black woman was performed by a major symphony orchestra. Price’s music was, sadly, never performed again(…)

Review: Murky Maria in a tango tangle

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic The general director of Chicago Opera Theater (COT), Andreas Mitisek, isn’t shy about his role in the recent production of “Maria de Buenos Aires.” He’s credited in the program as “conductor, director, concept, video concept and production designer.” You’d think with a single mind behind so many of the(…)

Magyars make marvelous music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic This season’s Classic Concert Series of the University of Chicago Presents came to a close a week ago Friday night in Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St., with a spirited performance by the Keller String Quartet: András Keller and Zsófia Környei, violins; Zoltán Gál, viola; and Judit Szabó, cello.(…)

Verdi’s Rigoletto

Verdi’s Rigoletto has an enduring place in the operatic canon because its music is divine and its story is unforgettable. Lyric Opera’s latest Rigoletto recently closed, but not without making a big impression. The greatest revelation in this current production is the lovely voice of soprano Albina Shagimuratova, whose Gilda is all that anyone could(…)

Puccini’s “La Bohème”

Puccini’s “La Bohème” is one of the world’s most popular operas and Lyric Opera of Chicago currently has a splendid production that treats doomed love with great tenderness. The star power of Anna Netrebko as Mimi has filled seats, but she also fills hearts with her stunning vocal ability, combined with deft and convincing acting.(…)

Lots to desire in “Streetcar”

By M.L. Rantala Classical Music Critic Renee Fleming has been Lyric Opera’s creative consultant since 2010, but in spite of this until last week she hadn’t appeared in an opera at Lyric during her tenure. She made up for this by headlining a special, four-performances-only, just-for-subscribers production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The operatic treatment(…)

Salonen charms in cohoots with Yo-Yo Ma

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, principal conductor and artistic advisor of London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, returned once again recently to wintry Chicago to lead the CSO and to collaborate with one of the world’s most admired cellists. Saturday night, March 2, at Symphony Center, Salonen opened a well-proportioned concert with a(…)