Muti ends CSO season with impromptu tribute to retiring violinist

Thu Jun 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm

By Dennis Polkow

Albert Igolnikov. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

In impromptu stage remarks after the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s closing performance of the season Sunday afternoon, Riccardo Muti announced to the audience that longtime assistant principal second violinist Albert Igolnikov would be retiring from the orchestra. Igolnikov joined the CSO in 1979 under Sir Georg Solti’s tenure and will retire at the end of this summer.

With the applause still underway after the performance of the Bruckner Sixth Symphony, Muti walked over to the second violins and warmly embraced Igolnikov, who was deeply moved by the CSO music director’s spontaneous public gesture.

Muti gently silenced the applause and, with his arm around Igolnikov, talked of the Russian-born violinist’s “long and distinguished career in the Leningrad Philharmonic under [Yevgeny] Mravinsky,” noting that some of the musician’s final tour appearances with the CSO earlier this year took place in the same St. Petersburg hall where he began, bringing Igolnikov’s career “full circle.”

“Let me tell you something, though,” added Muti. “A player never retires because what a player has given is love and that love has been given for decades. That love will remain forever, for generations to come. It is a love that will be felt by players and audiences alike as part of a chain, part of a continuum of humanity, forever.

“You see, it is not just notes that they give us, but through their notes, they give us their souls. And so I want to deeply thank Mr. Igolnikov and all the players of this orchestra who have retired and passed this year and years before and to come, for giving us their souls.”

The CSO music director ended on a personal note. “This is my last concert of the season and I want to publicly thank all of the musicians of this orchestra for a wonderful season,” said Muti. “This orchestra is something that you who live here really need to cherish, to celebrate. Have a great summer, and we’ll see you in September.” Muti then walked off the stage with Igolnikov and concertmaster Robert Chen, smiling and waving goodbye to the audience.

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