“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been engaged in a season-long celebration marking the 125th birthday anniversary of Sergei Prokofiev,” writes Lawrence A. Johnson in Friday’s (2/24) Chicago Classical Review. “The blockbuster event of that homage came Thursday night with the performance of Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible, led by Riccardo Muti…. Prokofiev’s music was written over five years (1941-46) as a film score for famed director Sergei Eisenstein’s planned trilogy of Ivan the Terrible, a follow-up to their successful collaboration on Alexander Nevsky…. Muti has been a dedicated advocate for this neglected score, and recorded the oratorio with the Philharmonia in the 1970s. With soloists, the orchestra and CSO Chorus clicking on all gears under their music director, not only was this first CSO performance of Ivan the Terrible a knockout performance—it was a musical revelation…. The partnership of Muti and the CSO musicians was at its most inspirational with playing of seismic force by the entire ensemble— the screaming winds, full-blast brass and seven percussionists working especially hard in this often aggressive score…. Gerard Depardieu was simply magnificent as the title 15th-century tsar…. Musically, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke was on the same excellent level…. The CSO Chorus was glorious…. The Chicago Children’s Choir was on the same level.”

Posted February 27, 2017

Pictured: Actor Gerard Depardieu portrayed the title tsar in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Prokofiev’s “Ivan the Terrible.” Photo by Todd Rosenberg