Chicago String Ensemble | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago String Ensemble

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Edvard Grieg, who was born 150 years ago this June, does not quite belong in the pantheon of trailblazing composers, but as a fervent nationalist with a romantic lyrical bent he can claim a place alongside Smetana, Kodaly, and Dvorak. His spirited rhythms often have a folk tune association, and his harmonies can be adventurous, presaging the impressionists. Today the Norwegian's legacy consists mainly of the Piano Concerto, the incidental music to Peer Gynt (commissioned by the playwright Ibsen), and the Holberg Suite. During his lifetime, Grieg had been dubbed the Nordic Mozart--a sobriquet that fits the musical temperament expressed in the Holberg Suite, which is really a series of five divertimenti for strings. Its sweet, melodic, and celebrative air was meant to commemorate the anniversary of an 18th-century Norwegian dramatist but it is undeniably appropriate for Grieg himself in this Chicago String Ensemble tribute. This concert is also noteworthy for the joint appearances of a father-son team. The father is Robert Black, a respected veteran saxophonist who will strut his stuff in Glazunov's seldom-performed Saxophone Concerto. The son is Jeremy Black, a winner in the 1991 WTTW/Illinois Bell Competition; his CSE debut vehicle will be Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in D Minor, a perennial favorite. Norman Dello Joio's playful Air rounds out the potpourri proffered by the midwest's finest string ensemble. Alan Heatherington is in charge of the proceedings. Friday, 8 PM, Saint Pauls Church, 655 W. Fullerton; Saturday, 8 PM, Unitarian Church, 1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston; Sunday, 3 PM, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 203 S. Kensington, La Grange; 332-0567.

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