Review: Esa-Pekka Salonen and Chicago Symphony in Shaw, Ravel—and Salonen

Posted on: June 8, 2022

During his two-week spring residency at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen “brought with him Caroline Shaw’s ‘Entr’acte’ and his own ‘Gemini’—the only CSO subscription concert this season to feature two living composers in one go,” writes Hannah Edgar in Saturday’s (6/4) Chicago Tribune. Joining “the contemporary works on Thursday’s CSO program [was] Maurice Ravel’s choral-orchestral score to the ballet ‘Daphnis et Chloe.’ … The CSO’s decadeslong rapport with their guest maestro was audible from the ballet’s opening bars…. In the hands of principal Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, this ‘Daphnis’ also featured the most stirring rendition of its famous flute solo I’ve yet heard—urgent at first, dying away, regaining its mettle and asserting its mind again…. One felt invited inside the mind behind that desolate yet brave voice…. The Chicago Symphony Chorus sang masked and in appropriately reduced numbers…. [In] Shaw’s ‘Entr’acte’ … CSO strings nailed [the work’s] pendulum swings between plushness and angularity, Salonen conducting them batonless and balletically…. Student attendees have been a core pillar of the CSO’s post-shutdown audience.… At ‘Gemini’s’ stomping conclusion on Thursday, a phalanx of about 20 or 30 attendees in my section—all seemingly under 25—rose in a standing ovation.”