“A little bit of heaven prevailed Saturday night at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert downtown in Symphony Center,” writes Wynne Delacoma in Monday’s (5/6) Musical America (subscription required). “It was the orchestra’s first weekend of subscription performances after a wearying seven-week strike, settled April 27…. Prolonged applause, cheers, and whoops greeted the musicians before they played a note…. Music Director Riccardo Muti was back in town to start a two-week residency. And the repertoire—Bizet’s rarely performed orchestral piece Roma, Berlioz’s The Death of Cleopatra with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and Respighi’s Pines of Rome—was a textbook example of the kind of unusual mix that Muti likes to serve up now and then in Chicago: a generous helping of Italy, a bracing taste of obscure works by major (or minor) composers…. Berlioz’s three-part cantata … is hardly a concert staple…. It provides an intriguing glimpse of the composer as a young man on his way to becoming a consummate master of his art…. Muti and his players explored every thrilling detail.… In the final movement [of Respighi’s Pines of Rome], the CSO’s brass took the lead, as dazzling, formidable, and awe-inspiring as any Roman legion on the march.”

Posted May 7, 2019

In photo: Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall, May 2, 2019. Photo by Todd Rosenberg