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Chicago Symphony Orchestra

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When the Miraculous Mandarin premiered in Cologne in 1926 the audience walked out and the production was banned. Bela Bartok's jarring score became inseparable from the pantomime's sordid tale of deception, seduction, and brutality, and he responded by condensing the music into an orchestral suite. The complete score will be performed here, and the music is gripping--the instrumental timbre and phrasing perfectly matched to the characters, the events propelled by the rhythms. The program also includes Gyorgy Ligeti's Piano Concerto, with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Treacherous for the performer and elusive for the listener, it reminds us that the piano is a percussion instrument. Ligeti's music, best known from the films of Stanley Kubrick, especially 2001: A Space Odyssey, has been called layered chaos, but the concerto is more fragmented, with notes and melodic scraps sliding past each other and occasionally colliding. The program opens with Maurice Ravel's orchestral version of his impressionistic homage to Schubert and the Viennese waltz, Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, which is impressively arranged but lacks the hypnotic simplicity of the original version for solo piano. Pierre Boulez conducts; musicologist Gerard McBurney will give a lecture at 7 PM in the Grainger Ballroom. The concert repeats December 1, 2, and 5; see cso.org for details. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $19-$119.

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