Critic’s Choice

Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 12:05 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Manfred Honeck. Photo: Petra Hajska
Manfred Honeck. Photo: Petra Hajska

This coming week is one of the most packed on Chicago’s music beat of the season. Among the riches are the Minnesota Orchestra coming to town on Sunday, a fine Mozart concertante program from Music of the Baroque, and the final weekend of the Winter Chamber Music Festival featuring the Dover Quartet and violinist Jennifer Koh. But two events stand out from the crowd.

Manfred Honeck, one of the most esteemed and popular of Chicago Symphony Orchestra guest conductors, returns Thursday to lead performances of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Music of Mahler has lost some of its historic CSO visibility in the Riccardo Muti era. And with Honeck figuring high on any short list of Muti successors, the implications are clear for the Austrian conductor’s first Mahler program with CSO, beyond this week’s actual performances. Till Fellner performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 on the first half.

Concerts are 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Symphony Center, and 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wheaton College.; 312-294-3000.


Even excerpts from Dmitri Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes & Fugues are recital program rarities. This Sunday the University of Chicago Presents will offer an even rarer event with Alexander Melnikov performing Shostakovich’s complete Op. 89 in a marathon matinee concert. Inspired by Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Shostakovich’s epic 1950 opus remains one of his most extraordinary and still lesser-known inspirations.

Melnikov showed himself a most impressive pianist in his concert with violinist Isabelle Faust last season in the UCP series. His recording of the complete Op. 87 has also won wide acclaim.

Alexander Melnikov performs Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues 2 p.m. Sunday at Mandel Hall.

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