Talking Chicago brass—with Chicago Symphony’s current top brass

Posted on: November 19, 2019

“What distinguishes one top-rank orchestra from another? For the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, it’s long been the brass,” writes Michael Cooper in Monday’s (11/18) New York Times. “For decades, the ‘Chicago brass’ has been prized for its majesty, virtuosity and sheer power. From its modern-day origins under Rafael Kubelik and Fritz Reiner to the brawny blasts of the Georg Solti era to the subtler approaches taken by Daniel Barenboim and now Riccardo Muti, brass has long been central to the ensemble’s sound…. The orchestra came to Carnegie Hall this weekend with young blood in two key positions—Esteban Batallán, 35, is its new principal trumpet and David Cooper, also 35, its new principal French horn…. They are joining colleagues steeped in the orchestra’s traditions: Jay Friedman, 80, has been principal trombone since 1965, and Gene Pokorny, 66, principal tuba since 1989.” For the article, “several brass players gathered backstage at Carnegie to listen to some classic recordings” featuring the orchestra’s brass section, including Smetana’s Ma Vlast (conducted by Rafael Kubelik, 1952), Strauss’s Symphonia Domestica (Fritz Reiner, 1956), Mahler’s Seventh Symphony (Georg Solti, 1971), Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony (Leonard Bernstein, 1988), and Verdi’s Requiem (Riccardo Muti, 2010). The article includes audio clips.

Posted November 19, 2019

In photo: Backstage with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal brass players: Esteban Batallán, trumpet; Gene Pokorny, tuba; Jay Friedman, trombone; David Cooper, French horn. Credit Lyndon French / New York Times