Critic’s Choice

Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 12:35 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Asher Fisch

If there is any positive side to Riccardo Muti’s sudden mystery illness and cancellation of two weeks of concerts, it’s that Asher Fisch will make his belated downtown Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut this week, as Muti’s replacement.

The Israeli conductor, who is in town for rehearsals of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Lyric Opera, has been a regular presence on the other side of the Loop in the Lyric pit, where he has led performances of Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly, and Macbeth. Fisch has been less frequently seen on the local concert platform, and his only previous CSO stand was at Ravinia in 1999.

Like his mentor Daniel Barenboim, Fisch seems most inspired in the cornerstone German repertory, which suits this week’s program of Wagner’s Centennial March, Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and the Sinfonia india of Carlos Chavez. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, 1:30 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday.; 312-294-3000.

Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra come to town with a—surprise—Russian program 8 p.m. Tuesday at Symphony Center. Denis Matsuev is solo protagonist in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Gergiev will also lead the orchestra in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15.; 312-294-3000.

Baroque Band opens its season with a virtuosic program of Italian concertos, as Garry Clarke directs his musicians in concerto grossi by Corelli, Locatelli, and Torelli. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hyde Park Union Church, Saturday at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston and Oct. 13 at Symphony Center.; 312-235 2368.

For yet more Russian Romanticism, the Chicago Philharmonic is opening its season with an all-Rachmaninoff lineup. Julia Siciliano will be the soloist in the Piano Concerto No. 2, with guest conductor Robert Trevino also leading the orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. Concert time is 7 p.m. Sunday at Pick-Staiger Hall in Evanston.; 847-866-0668.

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