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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 9:29 this evening, but we're featuring music for the season this morning on WFMT. Of course, we played Autumn from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. The Four Seasons are the first 4 concertos in a larger work by Vivaldi consisting of twelve concertos. What is the name of this collection? Answer >>

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      Songs about Life: the Jewish Caberet

      The New Budapest Orpheum Society is an ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago. The ensemble is part of the Humanities Division and draws upon a wide range of repertories. Some tunes are all but forgotten, many have been rediscovered in European archives; all celebrate the tradition of Jewish cabaret. Jewish cabaret tended to be urban, edgy, and packed with social commentary and adult situations more...

      CSO at Millennium Park: Allegro con Muti

      Update: 7:43 pm CDT Friday's crowd is estimated at over 20,000 people. Hundreds more are being turned away at the park entrance. Riccardo Muti brings the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Millennium Park on Friday for a free, all-Tchaikovsky concert. It's been four years to the day since Maestro Muti gave his inaugural concert in the park's more...

      Documentary Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT

      When Phil Grabsky looks out into the world, he sees stories that need to be told. As an independent filmmaker, he's followed his passion from Brazil to Angola, from Chernobyl to Afghanistan. He also has a fascination for great composers. Phil Grabsky is in Chicago to introduce his new film In Search of Chopin more...

      CSO Will Roll Out with a Bang

      The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes a joyful noise this weekend, performing to capacity crowds. Riccardo Muti opens the concert season with four sold-out performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and a free Tchaikovsky concert at Millennium Park. With orchestra and chorus declaring Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy more...

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      The Riders: Tim Winton's novel is now an opera with a few surprises

      The author gave librettist Alison Croggon and composer Iain Grandage free rein with his novel about unexplained loss

      The Riders is probably the only opera to feature an American Express office. But then Tim Wintons novel, on which it is based, is a nightmarish travelogue as much as a story of unexplained loss. So the credit facilities and travel hubs (Shannon airport, Pariss Gare de Lyon) make sense.

      Wintons story racks up a lot of frequent flyer points: loveable knockabout Scully, an innocent Australian abroad, wants to fulfil his wife Jennifers desire to live in rural Ireland. He does up an old bothy while she goes back to Western Australia for a couple of months with their young daughter Billie to settle affairs. On the day of their return, however, only the child comes through the airports sliding doors, traumatised and unable or unwilling to explain what has happened to her mother en route.

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      CBSO/Nelsons review the audience was transfixed by every breath of the music

      Symphony Hall, Birmingham
      Andris Nelsons extraordinary instinct for communicating the essence of a work took the experience to a higher plane

      Performances of Beethovens Choral Symphony are always an event. This one, the culmination of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras cycle, carried the cumulative energy of their four concerts in six days, a summation of all the great emotional and intellectual force Beethoven represents. Purists may argue the primacy of the late quartets, yet being part of a Symphony Hall audience transfixed by every breath of the music and finally erupting with joy was to be part of something altogether more hopeful. It was further evidence of conductor Andris Nelsons extraordinary instinct for communicating the essence of a work, examining the nuts and bolts of its construction and transcending mechanics to take the experience to a higher plane.

      Plaudits first to the glorious CBSO chorus, their discipline making Beethovens huge demands on them appear negligible: intonation and enunciation of Schillers words were impeccable, and the care given to the oft-repeated word brüder underlining the aspiration to peaceful brotherhood had its own powerfully cumulative effect. The orchestra, too, was in optimum form: details precisely honed, while also sustaining the almost Wagnerian expansiveness that Nelsons brought to the phrasing. The Eighth Symphony, a world away from the lofty ideals of the Ninth, had carried the same balance of a dancing grace with dramatically explosive bursts of rhythmic energy.

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      LSO/Gergiev/Matsuev review high-speed vamping at a brutal gallop

      Barbican Hall, London
      Valery Gergievs ability to pace and sustain the long climaxes in Shostakovichs symphonies remains exemplary

      The LSO opened its last season under Valery Gergiev doing what they do best together: Russian music. First, a rarity: the Dante Symphony No 1 by Boris Tishchenko, written in 1998 as the first of five pieces telling the story of the Divine Comedy. Tishchenko was a pupil of Shostakovich, and his influence was clear in the lonely string lines, which brought some yearning solos from lead violinist Roman Simovic. The five symphonies have never been danced end to end as a ballet, as Tishchenko envisaged. But there were moments here, especially in the loping music for bass clarinet and saxophone painting Dantes political opponents in all their grotesque glory, when this defiantly un-modernist music seemed to cry out for dance, or at least for something visual to accompany.

      In Prokofievs Piano Concerto No 3, the limelight was hogged by pianist Denis Matsuev. There wasnt much give and take; everything was crisply, coolly dazzling. The glissandos sliding up and down the keyboard in the final movement were dispatched with the nonchalance of a haberdasher testing the pile on a bolt of velvet. And its hard to imagine the outer movements being played any faster. But the melodies got lost in the scrum, at times reducing the piece to a series of harmonies. Still, there are plenty of concertos where this approach would do a lot worse. Matsuevs encore, Sibeliuss Etude Op 76 No 2, was almost anticlimactic in its calming effect.

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