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Chicago Symphony Orchestra


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For years Daniel Barenboim has been programming Beethoven with contemporary works to great effect--not just using familiar favorites to get audiences to sit through stuff they might otherwise never hear, but using the new to highlight the freshness of the old. The edge-of-your-seat performance a couple weeks ago of two Schnittke concerti grossi and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is a case in point. This weekend Barenboim will lead the CSO in Beethoven's sublimely lyrical violin concerto, which combines majestic symphonic and intimate violin writing. The soloist will be co-concertmaster Robert Chen, who's appeared with orchestras and ensembles around the world and frequently plays at major festivals. His wonderful tone, musicality, and ongoing relationship with Barenboim could make for an exciting collaboration. The program also includes the world premiere of Dance Figures by British composer George Benjamin. He was born in 1960, but his works have already been performed worldwide; the CSO played his Palimpsest I in 2001. His style is tremendously varied, though the influence of Messiaen, with whom he began studying when he was 16, can often be heard. Dance Figures, a 17-minute work written in 2004, consists of nine short, self-contained movements scored for orchestra with a full percussion section. It's a joint commission from the CSO, Strasbourg Musica, and La Monnaie de Munt and is intended to be performed with choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker that will be finished next year. Opening the program will be the prelude to act one of Wagner's Parsifal, a lushly orchestrated exploration of a single, long-lined melody with shimmering accompaniments that suggest ethereal worlds beyond this one. See also Saturday. Fri 5/20, 1:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $25-$100.

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