Music Reviews

Review: Cool night, hot music

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic As a teenager, Jean Sibelius longed to be a great violinist. After aborting legal studies, he entered the Helsinki Music School (later renamed the Sibelius Academy) where he realized he would never be a violin virtuoso. He turned to composing, becoming not only his country’s most renowned and beloved(…)

Grant Park Orchestra triumphs in Millenium Park

By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Last Wednesday, just as the heat wave began to lose steam, it was a perfect night for an outdoor concert. The Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park had gentle breezes which wafted the attractive scent of the foliage nearby. It was the perfect accompaniment to the music of the Grant(…)

Review: Keep on smiling

Where: 773 Theatre, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through July 14 Contact: chicagofolksoperetta.org By M.L. RANTALA Classical Music Critic Chicago Folks Operetta has launched their 2013 season with the first Chicago production in some 25 years of Franz Lehár’s “The Land of Smiles” (“Das Land des Lächelns”). While Lehár is renowned for “The Merry Widow,”(…)

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(…)