Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Leif Ove Andsnes | Symphony Center | Classical | Chicago Reader

Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Leif Ove Andsnes Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., Feb. 17, 8 p.m., Fri., Feb. 18, 8 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 19, 8 p.m. 2011

In the absence of Riccardo Muti, who fainted and fell from the podium during a rehearsal two weeks ago, fracturing multiple bones in his face and jaw, the CSO has scrambled for replacement conductors. The good news is that the ebullient Gianandrea Noseda takes the reins for this program, though with an unfortunate change away from the unique music of Edgard Varese. Most important, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will still play Brahms's glorious Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat Major. The restraint he brings to the Romantic repertoire—rubato is barely in his vocabulary, and his critics would like to thaw some of his Norwegian reserve—seems very natural and can be quite convincing. Andsnes has called this work "the most joyful thing I've done with an orchestra," noting that he finds "so much chamber music in it." Brahms beautifully weaves piano and orchestra together in this most symphonic of concertos—the soloist's virtuosity is buried in the music. The concert opens with Stravinsky's Divertimento (Suite From The Fairy's Kiss), a lightweight piece drawn from his 1928 ballet homage to Tchaikovsky, which used melodies from that composer's early piano pieces and songs. Next comes Borodin's sensuous Polovtsian Dances, from his opera Prince Igor, whose melodies have seeped into popular culture. Noseda, once a protege of Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg (home of the Kirov Orchestra, Opera, and Ballet), knows just what to do with this music. See also Friday and Saturday. —Steve Langendorf

Price: $28-$239

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