Critic’s Choice for 2022-23

Mon Sep 05, 2022 at 9:38 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Pianist Vikingur Ólafsson will perform music of Mozart and his contemporaries May 7, 2022. Photo: Ari Magg/DG

Handel: Jephtha. Music of the Baroque/Jane Glover. September 18-19.

Moving beyond its populist programming of recent years, Music of the Baroque opens the 2022-23 season with Handel’s Jephtha. This once-popular oratorio, centering on the Biblical tale of Jephtha who must sacrifice his daughter to fulfill a promise to God, is rich with music that is both sublime and emotionally intense. Music director Jane Glover leads MOB forces with a fine lineup of soloists.

Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea. Haymarket Opera Company. September 22-25.

In a good month for Baroque vocal music, Haymarket Opera presents Monteverdi’s final masterpiece, L’incoronazione di Poppea. A cast of company regulars stars in this epic tale of royal power relationships with the ambitious Poppea using her wiles to manipulate the unhinged ruler Nero. Monteverdi sets the couple’s mutual scheming against a sweeping Dickensian tapestry of two-dozen supporting characters representing all strata of Roman society.

Music of J.S. Bach, Praetorius, Telemann, Rameau and C.P.E. Bach. Music of the Baroque/Patrick Quigley. October 9 & 11.

In this program, which was delayed two years by the pandemic, guest conductor Patrick Quigley leads a thoughtful lineup of works exploring the concept of the musical hero, including such rarities as Telemann’s Burlesque de Quixote and Rameau’s Suite from Castor et Pollux, alongside Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 and C.P.E. Bach’s Cello Concerto in A Major. Guest conductors are rarities at MOB and Americans even more so. One looks forward to seeing what kind of sparks the dynamic Quigley can strike with the MOB musicians.

Bruckner: Symphony No. 8. Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Christian Thielemann. October 20-25. 

In Riccardo Muti’s final season as CSO music director most attention will be focused on guest conductors, especially with the orchestra in the hunt for a new MD. The celebrated Christian Thielemann, one of the world’s leading interpreters of Austro-German Late Romantic rep, returns for his first CSO concert in 27 years with a single work—Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8.

Christian Thielemann will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 October 20-25. Photo: Matthias Creutziger

Verdi: Don Carlos. Lyric Opera. November 9-25.

In a Lyric Opera season with only five grand operas—which, sadly, looks like the future at the big house on North Wacker Drive—Verdi’s Don Carlos is the most essential show. Lyric’s cast is considerably less star-studded than that assembled by the Met when its new David McVicar production was unveiled last season. But with a sprawling opera containing six principal characters in a remarkable musical canvas of riveting drama and lyrical riches, any opportunity to catch this Verdi masterpiece—not least in the original five-act French version—must not be passed up.

Mahler: Symphony No. 7. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Kirill Petrenko. November 16. 

In their first visit to Chicago in 12 years, the storied Berliners will perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 under current music director Kirill Petrenko.

Music of Mozart and his contemporaries. Víkingur Ólafsson. May 7, 2022.

Víkingur Ólafsson is the most compelling pianist to appear on the international scene since Daniil Trifonov. In his DG recordings of repertoire ranging from Bach, Rameau and Mozart to Debussy and Philip Glass, the Icelandic musician shows a direct communicative quality and a singular ability to draw a widely terraced range of expression with the simplest means.

Mahler: Symphony No. 9. Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Jakub Hrůša. June 8-10. 

Few CSO podium guests have ignited such an enthusiastic local following with as few appearances as Jakub Hrůša. In his third Chicago stand, the charismatic Czech conductor will tackle Mahler’s epic swan song, the Ninth Symphony.

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis. Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti. June 23-25. 

In his final season, Riccardo Muti’s programs are almost exclusively revisiting works he has performed previously, many more than once. (Just two works all season are new to his repertoire.) Still, there will likely be a grand sense of occasion when Muti closes out his Chicago tenure in June with Beethoven’s heaven-storming Missa Solemnis.

Posted in Articles

Leave a Comment