CSO casts a wider net next season with rarities, American music

Tue Jan 31, 2017 at 3:00 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Riccardo Muti will conduct three world premieres by American composers in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 2017-18 season. Photo: Todd Rosenberg
Riccardo Muti will conduct three world premieres by American composers in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season shows a more skillful balancing of repertoire than many in past years, with the usual cornerstone works set off by a greater variety of rarities, including a generous sampling of contemporary and 20th-century music.

Most striking–perhaps responding to the criticism that Riccardo Muti has ignored American music in his seven years as music director–the 2017-18 season season will see a substantial increase in homegrown repertoire. Significantly, Muti himself will lead music by five American composers, three of which are world premieres: a work by CSO composer in residence Elizabeth Ogonek; a concerto for the CSO’s low brass section by Jennifer Higdon; and Three Lisel Müller Settings, a cycle for mezzo-soprano and orchestra by CSO violist and composer Max Raimi.

Other works by American composers on tap next season include Barber’s Cello Concerto (Alisa Weilerstein as soloist) and Violin Concerto (James Ehnes). And the CSO will mark the centennial of Leonard Bernstein with performances of three works: the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, the suite from On the Waterfront and the Symphony No. 2 (“The Age of Anxiety”).

The CSO’s 127th subscription season will kick off September 23 with Muti leading a program featuring Anne-Sophie Mutter in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Penderecki’s The Awakening of Jacob, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2

Muti will lead ten weeks of concerts next season. Works new to the music director’s CSO repertory include Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2 with Yo-Yo Ma, Debussy’s complete Nocturnes, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Chausson’s Poem of Love and the Sea with mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine, Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E flat, and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.

Muti will conduct a semi-American program with George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait and Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony.

Also on tap from Muti are Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, Richard Strauss’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme suite, Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 (Kirill Gerstein), Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Haydn’s Symphony No. 89, and Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat (Robert Chen and Paul Neubauer) and Symphony No. 36.

Making their CSO podium debuts next season are conductors Jiří Bělohlávek, Giovanni Antonini and John Storgårds. Artists making their CSO bows are mandolinist Avi Avital, tenor Paul Appleby, principal bassoon Keith Buncke, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong, violinist Isabelle Faust, mezzo Clémentine Margaine, violist Paul Neubauer and soprano Sandrine Piau.

Returning guest conductors are Alain Altinoglu, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, James Gaffigan,Valery Gergiev, Manfred Honeck, Marek Janowski, Emmanuel Krivine, Kent Nagano, Rafael Payare, Esa-Pekka Salonen, András Schiff, Jaap van Zweden, John Williams and Nikolaj Znaider.

Returning artists include pianists Till Fellner, Kirill Gerstein, Daniil Trifonov, Mitsuko Uchida, David Fray, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Katia and Marielle Labèque; violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter, James Ehnes, Arabella Steinbacher, Gil Shaham, Robert Chen, and Leonidas Kavakos; cellists Alisa Weilerstein and Yo-Yo Ma; and singers Amanda Forsythe, Nicholas Phan, Krassimira Stoyanova, Ekaterina Gubanova, and Eric Owens.

The orchestra will embark on two domestic tours next season. In October, Muti and the CSO will make a seven-city California trip–stopping at Kansas City en route–that will include the CSO’s debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

In February, Muti takes the orchestra on a seven-concert tour of the East Coast, that includes two performances at Carnegie Hall, a concert in Naples, Florida and two concerts at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

Symphony Center Presents and other series were also announced Tuesday. Go to cso.org for details.


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