Review: Chicago Symphony Orchestra in concertos for piccolo and for bass trombone

Posted on: June 19, 2019

“This weekend’s program at Symphony Center was full of delightful surprises and unexpected revelations,” writes Hedy Weiss on Monday (6/17) at Chicago TV station WTTW. “The CSO’s Jennifer Gunn finally got to perform Ken Benshoof’s [2016] ‘Concerto in Three Movements for Piccolo and Orchestra’ … its first performance by the CSO, and it is a beauty … unspooling in a series of three richly evocative, mood-shifting ‘landscape paintings.’ … The other CSO musician in the spotlight was its bass trombone player, Charles Vernon, who performed the … [world] premiere of James Stephenson’s grand-scale ‘Bass Trombone Concerto’ with gusto. Stephenson … has created a thrilling work that deploys the full orchestra (including a fabulously busy percussion section led by Cynthia Yeh, as well as a big brass component), and it conjures an elaborate curtain of sound…. A dazzling piece, played brilliantly under the baton of [Music Director Riccardo] Muti.” Other works on the program included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 “in [a] galvanic performance” and Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.” “One of the great delights of this concert was to sense the way all these disparate works somehow coalesced into an intriguing maze of connections.”

Posted June 19, 2019

In photo: Chicago Symphony Orchestra piccolo Jennifer Gunn was featured soloist in Ken Benshoof’s Concerto in Three Movements for Piccolo and Orchestra with Music Director Riccardo Muti and the CSO on June 13, 2019. Photo by Todd Rosenberg