This is the tribune review of our concert Sunday night.
Chicago Tribune – November 22, 2005
Civic opener lives up to the hype
By John von RheinThe latest incarnation of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago is so good that it seems downright patronizing to continue thinking of it as "only" the Chicago Symphony's farm club.How many adult professional orchestras in communities across the land can make music at such a high level? The playing experience and mentoring these exceptionally gifted young instrumentalists derive from membership in the Civic will prove invaluable as they eventually make their way into some of America's leading orchestras, including our own. Their opening concert of the season Sunday at Symphony Center proved conductor Cliff Colnot's contention that this is by far the best roster of musicians the Civic has fielded in 15 years. His first program as the orchestra's recently appointed principal conductor was a benefit concert; all proceeds will help the Civic match a $1 million challenge grant to underwrite the musicians' stipends. It's a cause worthy of the music community's support.Colnot built his program around the solo talents of five notable Chicago musicians, all of whom are Civic alumni. Rachel Barton Pine played Mendelssohn's E-Minor Violin Concerto. Another German Romantic work, Schumann's Konzertstueck in F Major, enlisted four of the five players who make up the horn section of the Chicago Symphony—Daniel Gingrich, Oto Carrillo, James Smelser and David Griffin.What a pleasure to hear young orchestra musicians so giving, so fully engaged, in their concerto accompaniments, something that cannot always be said of adult professionals. The ineffable sweetness with which Barton Pine traced the opening pages of the Mendelssohn concerto found its answer in the orchestra's songful countermelodies. The violinist made the familiar work seem freshly minted, especially in the gentle reverie that is the central Andante. The finale was as light as thistledown, with dancing woodwinds to match her puckish fiddling.Schumann's Concert Piece long has been a showpiece for the CSO horn choir and Sunday's soloists brought it to life in floods of warmly romantic sound. If the French horn is the most treacherous of solo instruments, you would never have guessed from their beautiful and shapely phrasing and the subtlety and precision of their articulation.Colnot provided a brash and brassy reading of Charles Ives' "America" Variations (orchestrated by William Schuman) at the beginning of the concert. The Second Suite from Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe" ballet brought the program to a rousing close. The piece gathered shimmering atmosphere in fine degrees: burbling flutes and warbling piccolo and violins to evoke daybreak, a dangerously languid flute solo to mark the "Pantomime," and a suitably orgiastic "General Dance."
Good, eh? I don't know what I was expecting, perhaps something along the lines of "by far the best roster of musicians the Civic has fielded in 15 years... except for the 7th chair violist. She wasn't so great." :-) Not really, it went quite well and I didn't fuck anything up majorly. This is my first real review, I think.