Critic’s Choice

Wed Sep 19, 2018 at 1:56 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Dmitri Shostakovich

The opening of a new music season is traditionally the time for light, crowd-pleasing repertory. Refreshingly, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are going in a different direction with this week’s first subscription program, launching the CSO’s 128th season Friday night with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 “Babi Yar.”

Written to poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “Babi Yar” is a searing indictment of Soviet anti-Semitism, as well as other aspects of life under Stalin’s cultural apparatchiks. Alexey Tikhomirov is the bass soloist along with the men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Prokofiev’s Sinfonietta is on the first half. Performances are 8 p.m.  Friday and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.; 312-294-3000.

Muti and the CSO are offering more populist fare in a free concert in Millennium Park 6:30 p.m. Thursday night. The CSO music director will lead the combined forces of the CSO and Civic Orchestra—marking the latter’s centennial season—in Rossini’s William Tell Overture, “The Four Seasons” from Verdi’s I vespri siciliani and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at the Pritzker Pavilion.

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