Muti’s second CSO season to include touring, populist repertoire

Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Riccardo Muti

It’s been a busy couple of days for Riccardo Muti, even while convalescing.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director was released from the hospital over the weekend, and Sunday night he won his first Grammy (Best Classical “Album”) for his debut recording with the CSO of Verdi’s Requiem. (Chorus director Duain Wolfe was also honored for the CSO Chorus’s singing on the same recording.)

On Monday afternoon the CSO announced its lineup for the 2011-2012 season, which includes an ambitious piano festival, Muti’s first tours as music director with the orchestra, and a decidedly mainstream lineup of repertoire for the Italian conductor’s second season.

While Muti’s CSO commitment is substantial next season—six weeks on tour and ten weeks of concerts—the two main initiatives announced for next season have minimal participation by the orchestra’s music director.

The centennial of Gustav Mahler’s death will be marked by four major works, none conducted by Muti; Bernard Haitink will lead the CSO in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Pierre Boulez directs the symphonic song-cycle, Das Lied von der Erde, with Jaap van Zweden tapped for the Symphony No. 1.

The season will also include a late spring piano festival, “Keys to the City.” Put together by Emanuel Ax, the three-week event will include Katie and Marielle Labeque, Mitsuko Uchida, Stephen Hough, Jeremy Denk ,and Ax.

Before opening the CSO season, Muti and the orchestra will embark on an extensive European tour in August and September that includes stops in Vienna, Salzburg, Lucerne, Dresden and Paris.

Muti will open the CSO season Sept. 23 with a program featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, Nino Rota’s suite from his film score for The Leopard, and Mathieu Dufour as soloist in Ibert’s Flute Concerto.

Other major works to be conducted by Muti in his subscription weeks include Orff’s Carmina Burana, Liszt’s Faust Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Italian symphony, Franck’s Symphony in D minor, Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, Brahms’ Symphony No 2, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6. He will also lead performances of Brahm’s Schickalslied for chorus and the Cherubini Requiem, rescheduled from last fall. Muti’s weeks will also include a sampling of the second-tier compatriot composers he has consistently championed, includng Rota, Martucci (Piano Concerto No. 2), Busoni and Bossi.

Muti will also take the CSO on a one-week tour of California in February and two concerts in Abu Dhabi in April followed by a lengthy tour of Italy.

Premieres next season include one new work each by the CSO’s two composers in residence: Alternative Energy by Mason Bates and a yet unnamed piece by Anna Clyne.  Also James Matheson’s Violin Concerto, a CSO co-commission, will receive its premiere with the orchestra’s principal second violin, Baird Dodge as soloist.

Artists making their CSO debuts next season include pianists Jeremy Denk, Nikolai Lugansky, and Gerhard Oppitz and cellist Gautier Capucon. Returning soloists include Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Yefim Bronfman, Mitsuko Uchida, Franz-Peter Zimmerman, Till Fellner, Stephen Hough and Stewart Goodyear.

Guest conductors making CSO debuts in 2011-2012  are Stephane Deneve, Alain Altinoglu, Susanna Malkki and Kiril Petrenko. Returning podium guests include Michael Tilson Tomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jaap van Zweden, Charles Dutoit, Semyon Bychkov, David Robertson, Sir Mark Elder, Manfred Honeck, Ton Koopman, Bernard Labadie, Ludovic Morlot, and Trevor Pinnock.

The season will also feature a return to the tradition of spotlighting orchestra members as concerto soloists. CSO members who will be featured in concertante roles include Mathieu Dufour, J. Lawrie Bloom, Christopher Martin, Baird Dodge, David McGill, Robert Chen, Charles Pikler and John Sharp.

For more information, go to or call 312-294-3000.

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