Civic Orchestra of Chicago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Civic Orchestra of Chicago



Scholars are still arguing about Dmitry Shostakovich's political beliefs. Some claim he was a communist but say it's a mistake to hear everything he wrote in terms of that; others claim he was a closet dissident who criticized the regime using an ironic musical code. The truth is probably somewhere in between. This week the Civic Orchestra, the training orchestra of the CSO, is playing one of the works that's at the center of this controversy, his Symphony no. 9. Stalin wanted a monumental symphony to celebrate the Soviet victory in World War II; Shostakovich delivered a brief and spiteful one. The delicate first movement holds to almost all the structural norms of a Mozartean symphony, though with rude, comical interjections from the trombone. The rest of the symphony passes through various stages of rage and offers a grieving waltz, a vicious interlude for low brass, and a trumpet solo in a Spanish vein. The mock heroic ending includes a garish march that seems like a parody of a college fight song. The program begins with Alfred Schnittke's Concerto Grosso no. 4, which sounds like Bach gone sideways. The orchestra members, under Cliff Colnot's leadership, play with a passion and intelligence beyond their years. Monday 11/22, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-233-7114, free, but tickets are required and go quickly.

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