Gingrich shines brightly in CSO’s Viennese program

Fri Jun 03, 2016 at 1:03 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Daniel Gingrich performed Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 3 with Edo de Waart leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Thursday night. Photo: Todd Rosenberg
Daniel Gingrich performed Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 with Edo de Waart leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Thursday night. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is leading off the final month of its 125th season with two weeks of cornerstone repertory by Mozart and Beethoven. Yet in Thursday night’s program led by Edo de Waart most interest centered on a pair of wind players–one a featured soloist, the other a new principal.

Daniel Gingrich has been a crucial asset to the CSO, filling in wonderfully as acting principal horn while the CSO engages in its search for a successor to Dale Clevenger. At the last horn audition, no applicant passed to the second round, so Gingrich will likely continue in his current role for the foreseeable future. (For those keeping score, auditions for CSO principal oboe are taking place this week.)

Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 proved a fine vehicle for Gingrich’s mellow tone and easy facility. He assayed the amiable bonhomie with admirable grace and refinement, one tiny slip in his cadenza apart. De Waart and Gingrich’s colleagues backed him with alert and equally elegant support.

Though not a featured solo vehicle, Mozart’s “Prague” symphony (No. 38)  provided a worthy bow for Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson in his first week on the job as CSO principal flute. Former principal of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Icelandic musician acquitted himself with distinction, blending gratefully with his wind colleagues and displaying a lean, focused tone and agility in the lightning tempo of the finale.

De Waart is subbing at these concerts for Christoph von Dohnanyi, who is recovering from eye surgery and expected to conduct as scheduled next week. Seated throughout the evening, the venerable Dutch maestro displayed his established Mozartian bona fides. The introduction to the opening movement of the symphony had ample weight and drama, and the ensuing Allegro went with apt vigor and was skillfully paced. (Though taking all repeats, as de Waart did throughout, may be too much of a good thing, even for Mozart.) The Andante was graceful, if with a touch of blandness, yet de Waart took the Presto finale at a crackling pace, which the orchestra handled without breaking a sweat.

The performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 on the second half was admirable and idiomatic if without the insights or adrenaline that Riccardo Muti or Manfred Honeck, especially, bring to this repertoire. De Waart takes a middle-of-the-road interpretive approach—neither lean and quicksilver as period specialists prefer in early Beethoven, nor heavy or old-fashioned per mid-20th century style.

A feeling of efficient routine surfaced in the Larghetto and the quirky wit of the finale’s somersaulting motif was largely absent. Still, if lacking something in individuality and distinction, this was sturdy and reliable Beethoven, with de Waart drawing characteristically polished and responsive playing by the orchestra.

The program will be repeated 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.; 312-294-3000.

Posted in Performances

2 Responses to “Gingrich shines brightly in CSO’s Viennese program”

  1. Posted Jun 04, 2016 at 9:50 am by David Griffin

    Nicely written. Makes me want to attend. The other critic just gives reasons why you should stay home.

  2. Posted Jun 04, 2016 at 7:14 pm by Marquis Cahill

    Larry is a genius, he heard a horn mistake.

    Thank you for mentioning it.

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