Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pierre Boulez Conducts Mahler 7th on Great Performances

PBS's Great Performances will air the Chicago Symphony's recent performance of Gustav Mahler's 7th Symphony this evening (10/27/1010) at 8 o'clock (Central) on local affiliate KLRN-San Antonio. This is a must see event, conducted by Pierre Boulez.

Health issues have forced recently appointed Music Director Ricardo Muti to step down from his Fall concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The disappointment amongst patrons and fans of the CSO is understandable. I was recently in Chicago and had the opportunity to attend a program of Wagner, Chavez and Beethoven. Although I, too, was saddened to miss Muti on the podium, I must say the orchestra still proudly displays its world class virtuosity tempered with immaculate musicianship. I came away mightily impressed. This was not my first time to hear the Chicagoans live, but it might have been the finest concert by the CSO I have been privileged to attend.

What a shame that I had to return to San Antonio just as they announced that Boulez would be coming in a few days later for the Mahler 7th. Both Boulez and Mahler's 7th Symphony loom large for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The musicians love and respect Boulez. His affiliation with the CSO goes back to 1969 and includes 11 years (1995-2006) as the orchestra's principal guest conductor. As far as the Mahler goes, the CSO has a firm reputation as a Mahler orchestra. Years ago, when I took a few private French horn lessons with the orchestra's principal horn Dale Clevenger, Mr. Clevenger mentioned that at that time the orchestra regarded their recording of Mahler's 7th with Georg Solti as the best representation of how they believed the orchestra sounded. This enthusiasm is not only a sonic endorsement, but also an indication of the orchestra's affinity for this particular symphony. This, of course, makes tonight's Great Performances broadcast all the more compelling.

For the record, this Great Performances broadcast will repeat several times, mostly in the wee hours of the morning. Check local listings for details.

Submitted: James Baker

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