Chicago Symphony Orchestra | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

by

comment

Clarinetist John Bruce Yeh may be the busiest musician in town. A longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra--which he joined in 1977 right out of the Julliard School--he often guest solos with other ensembles in town and pursues a side career as a chamber recitalist, most notably with the Chicago Pro Musica, the Grammy-winning group he helped found. (And he also teaches at DePaul University.) Three CDs featuring his performances are due out next month. In the meantime he gets to fulfill one of his dreams: playing Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto with the CSO. Carl Nielsen, Denmarks' most important composer, has remained a cult figure outside his native country. His orchestral compositions, despite their sturdy architectonics and splashy orchestral colors, have been unfavorably compared to Sibelius's greater achievements. Whether Nielsen's music deserves more attention is still debatable, but his 1928 Clarinet Concerto, his last major work, is an astonishing tour de force. Its prevailing mood is intense brooding, almost abrasive and macabre in its resoluteness. The clarinet is a tormented yet blithe protagonist and at times engages in dramatic confrontations with the snare drum. The solo passages demand extraordinary technical skill. The CSO is performing the Nielsen for the first time in concert, although it did record the work in the 50s with Benny Goodman. The program also includes another belated premier. Dvorak's Fourth Symphony, the first and the darkest of this last three great symphonies. Estonian maestro Neeme Jarvi conducts; he should be excused for his indulgence in including on the program four short pieces by Baltic composers. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.

Add a comment