My Chicago Sun-Times and suntimes.com preview story on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 2013-2014 season.
Posted Wednesday February 6, 2013 at 3 p.m. CST. Published Thursday February 7, 2013.
Guess who? Man on left: Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze
Verdi, Britten tributes head up Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2013-14 season
Muti, Boulez, Hatink, Dutoit, Salonen, and van Zweden lead the roster
BY ANDREW PATNER
Following a year marked by cancellations and illness of its music director Riccardo Muti and marquee veteran conductors Pierre Boulez and Bernard Haitink, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra announced on Wednesday its 2013-2014 subscription season with 13 weeks of concerts to be led by these much admired leaders now in their 70s and 80s.
While the Richard Wagner bicentenary being marked worldwide this year was basically snubbed this season at Orchestra Hall and will be wholly ignored in the next, Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birthday anniversary will be celebrated with five different programs, including a free season-launching community concert at a place to be named later (September 18), the annual gala Symphony Ball (September 21), four concert performances of the full opera Macbeth (September 28 through October 6), and a reprise of the Requiem on October 10, the exact anniversary of the composer’s birth in Italy in 1813. Macbeth will feature young singers who took the lead roles in Muti’s successful Rome Opera production a little over a year ago, Uruguayan baritone, Dario Solari, and Russian soprano Tatiana Serjan.
Though Benjamin Britten’s music often has been disregarded here in recent years, the CSO will salute the English composer’s centennial with five programs, including his giant War Requiem, led by regular visitor Charles Dutoit in the fall, and in a series of four programs of Britten, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich over three weeks in the spring, organized by Dallas Symphony Orchestra music director Jaap van Zweden (who has now emerged as the CSO’s principal guest conductor in all but name.)
Now recovering from a nasty flu that led to two canceled weeks of concerts here last month and a hernia surgery that caused him to miss the CSO tour of Asia wrapping up this week, Muti also will present an in-depth series of concerts featuring all eight of Schubert’s symphonies and his rarely heard Mass in A-Flat Major.
The Schubert survey also will include a welcome return of a series of three vocal recitals: the belated local recital début of acclaimed German baritone Christian Gerhaher (left, © Jim Rakete) in Winterreise, Matthias Goerne in Die schöne Müllerin, and Susanna Phillips and Eric Owens in a lieder program that includes The Shepherd on the Rock and Auf dem Strom.
Muti also will lead a commissioned world première double cello concerto by Giovanni Sollima, who will solo along with CSO Green creative consultant Yo-Yo Ma in January, and a work by renowned film composer Ennio Morricone written to commemorate the events of Sept. 11. Both Italians are close associates of Muti, and Sollima is a member of Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. Other highlights of Muti’s four residencies featuring 10 weeks of programs include concertos with principal CSO players Robert Chen, John Sharp, and David McGill and pianist Mitsuko Uchida, and to conclude the season in June, Mahler’s First Symphony.
Former principal conductor Haitink, who missed one of two weeks this season, is scheduled for one week this fall with Emanuel Ax, in Mozart’s last Piano Concerto, No. 27, and the Bruckner Fourth Symphony. Conductor emeritus Boulez, who had to cancel his podium engagements here last season due to eye problems, is slated for two full weeks in February with intriguing programs of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky, along with chamber rarities by the latter two.
In addition to the November dates of War Requiem, which will honor Britten’s intent with vocal soloists from England, Germany, and Russia, in March Dutoit also will conduct the season’s other world première commission, a flute concerto written by French composer Guillaume Connesson for principal flute Mathieu Dufour.
The CSO’s Mead composers in residence will have the first CSO performances of respective works: Anne Akiko Meyers will make her CSO début playing Mason Bates’s Violin Concerto in April, and composer-conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the only other guest invited to lead two weeks of concerts, will offer Anna Clyne’s rescheduled <<rewind<< as well as one of his own works, Nyx.
Pianist and curator Ax will share three programs of his four-city Brahms Project, in which he pairs Brahms piano and chamber works with new commissions by Nico Muhly, Anders Hillborg, Brett Dean, and Missy Mazzoli. Ma joines Ax in one program and soprano Anne Sofie von Otter in another.
No new guest conductors have been invited for next season. Thirteen returning guests, both young and veteran, are on the schedule for one week each, in addition to those mentioned above: Semyon Bychkov; Stéphane Denève, Christoph von Dohnányi; Mark Elder; an unexpected return by former Ravinia music director Christoph Eschenbach, now chief of the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.; Miguel Harth-Bedoya; Vladimir Jurowski; Bernard Labadie; Susanna Mälkki (left), only one of two women on the guest conducting roster, and music director of the Boulez-founded Ensemble intercontemporain in Paris; Baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan; Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director Leonard Slatkin; San Francisco’s Michael Tilson Thomas, and pianist-conductor Mitsuko Uchida.
The highly popular “Beyond the Score” series, directed by Gerard McBurney, returns with programs examining the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique (with Denève) on December 6 and 8; Haydn’s London Symphony No. 100, the “Military” (McGegan) on February 14 and 16, and the pioneering American Charles Ives’s Second Symphony (Elder) on April 25 and 27. The multimedia programs shift their Friday slots from afternoons to evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays remain 3 p.m. matinées.
Muti, Dutoit, Mälkki, and Jurowski each also lead one early evening, intermissionless “Afterwork Masterworks” program and participate in post-concert discussions during the season.
If over-all programming is not heavily adventurous, one quarter of the works of next season’s concerts (by number) are having their first-ever CSO performances. In addition to works already mentioned, these range from pieces by contemporary composers Thomas Adès and Chicagoan Bernard Rands to lesser-heard Baroque works to Stravinsky’s Elegy for J.F.K. (to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination) to the Schubert Mass in A and his Overture in the Italian Style on Muti’s concerts to the Carlos Chávez Piano Concerto with Chicago area soloist Jorge Federico Osorio and William Schuman’s 1948 Sixth Symphony with American music champion Slatkin.
Additional notable CSO concert solo débuts include the members of the Macbeth international cast, English tenor John Mark Ainsley in the War Requiem, Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma in the Britten concerto, past CSO League Youth Auditions winner cellist Gabriel Cabezas, and Alaska-born mezzo Vivica Geneaux on McGegan’s Baroque program.
Other returning soloists of note include violinists Leila Josefowicz and James Ehnes, and pianists Kirill Gerstein, Richard Goode, Paul Lewis, and Marc-André Hamelin. Principal oboe Eugene Izotov also has a concerto: the Strauss, with Jurowski.
Plans for domestic and international tours by the orchestra in 2013-14 will be announced this spring.
Under a new name, “CSO at the Movies” returns with John Williams conducting selections from his film music -- including from Lincoln, which featured the composer conducting the CSO on its soundtrack -- and his Violin Concerto with soloist Gil Shaham on November 10 (with additional performances on November 8 and 9). Regular film program conductor Richard Kaufman leads CSO members in Chaplin’s City Lights on March 21. Details of a January 24 program are to be announced.
The MusicNOW series, curated by Bates and Clyne and with Cliff Colnot as principal conductor, will take place at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on October 21, December 16, February 3 and May 5, with programs to be announced.
Subscriptions are now on sale online, at cso.org; by phone, (312) 294-3000 and (800) 223-7114, by fax (312-294-3015; credit card payments only), by mail, or in person at the Orchestra Hall box office, 220 South Michigan Avenue, 60604.