Mark Twain famously remarked that Wagner's music is better than it sounds. The converse might be said about the music of Wagner's most ardent follower, Anton Bruckner, whose critics often cite both his intoxicating sound and his lack of compositional refinement. His Seventh Symphony contains some noble, powerful, and incredibly beautiful music. Expression and form are particularly well-balanced in the first movement, and while the second movement adagio was inspired by a premonition of his beloved Wagner's death, the symphony remains an optimistic work. It's not hard to lose one's bearings in Bruckner's massive compositions--conductors have to address structure and line without diminishing the beauty and power. But Emmanuel Villaume, who's made his mark in opera houses around the world, seems well suited to this score's demands. The concert opens with a Tour de Liszt: pianist Louis Lortie and the orchestra performing the playful fantasia on themes from Beethoven's Ruins of Athens, followed by the exhilarating and strikingly original Totentanz. Fri 7/28, 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 100 N. Michigan, 312-742-7638. Free.