Critic’s Choice

Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 1:10 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Serge Prokofiev

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra opens the new year tonight with Sir Mark Elder leading an all-Russian program. Stephen Hough returns for the final installment of his Tchaikovsky traversal with the not-obscure Piano Concerto No 1.  Elder will lead the orchestra in Prokofev’s Symphony No. 5 and two rarities by Anton Liadov, Baba-Yaga and The Enchanted Lake. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Saturday.

There will be also be two Beyond the Score programs 1:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Host and narrator Gerard McBurney will be joined by actors for a presentation examining Prokofiev and the historical background to his composition of the Fifth Symphony followed by Elder and the CSO performing the work. 312-294-3000.

The Emerson String Quartet returns to Chicago 7:30 p.m. Friday with an offbeat program at Mandel Hall that couples string quartets by Debussy and Alban Berg with quartet movements of Haydn and Mendelssohn. 773-302-8068;

The Winter Chamber Music Festival opens Friday at Northwestern’s Pick Staiger Hall with a program offering Brahms’ Piano Trio No. 1 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in the artful chamber reduction by Erwin Stein. The festival will offer a variety of events and master classes through Feb, 7, closing with a concert by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. 847-467-4000;

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