Review: Chicago Symphony and Muti launch Beethoven cycle

Posted on: October 1, 2019

“The world will be celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday next year, but Chicago got started on Thursday night,” writes Howard Reich in Friday’s (9/27) Chicago Tribune. “Before a large audience in Orchestra Hall … Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti launched the ensemble’s season-long cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies. The project will be released on recordings…. Listening to Muti conduct the CSO in Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 (‘Eroica’), you realized that this wasn’t about Muti…. Muti made emotional and intellectual impact … thoroughly within the framework of Beethoven’s writing…. It yielded moving performances, nowhere more than in the funeral march movement of the ‘Eroica.’ …  Above all, this was a carefully paced ‘Eroica,’ culminating with a climax that left no doubt we had come to the apex of a long and rigorous journey. [In] Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 … the strings sang sweetly in the second movement…. A sense of joy and exuberance—albeit within the parameters of early Beethoven style—drove the finale, the entire movement delivered with a smile…. With images of Beethoven’s ferocious scowl plastered across the Orchestra Hall lobby, it was clear whose music and never-say-die sensibility would dominate the season ahead.”

Posted October 1, 2019