Finally, after about 3 years or so, I got to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. again. Ah! I was thrilled when I approached the city--seeing the awesome skyline always thrills me. I associate trips to Chicago with nothing but good things, and that association only grows with each visit.
The program was thoughtful--Wagner book-ended the program, starting with his Siegfried Idyll, and ending with the Prelude to Parsifal. In between was Schoenberg's Violin Concerto, and Mahler's Adagio from Symphony no. 10. Pretty cool set of tunes, especially considering that Mahler was a fan of Wagner, and Schoenberg was a fan of Mahler. I liked that correlation. Asher Fisch conducted (was originally supposed to be Boulez, from what I gathered, but was switched out quite some time before)
I was grateful for my wonderful seat, in the lower balcony. Seat F109 has gotta be the best seat in the house, I swear. Smack dab in the middle! Wonderful view, and great place to hear music.
As the music started, I found myself settling in to my seat. Walking around Chicago on St. Patrick's Day weekend was slightly frazzling---crazy people everywhere! So it was nice to get settled in my seat, ready to soak in the sounds of the evening.
I have always loved Siegfried Idyll--it's such a tender piece. It started very sweetly, but I didn't really settle in to my seat and feel fully relaxed until I heard the double bass come in on that B. Ahhhh.....I sat back, smiled, and enjoyed that rich, deep sound. It was a sweet performance, almost like a lullaby at times.
The next work was the highlight of the evening, if you ask me. Michael Barenboim played the Schoenberg Violin Concerto like he was born to play such music. Schoenberg's piece is so....moody, and petulant at times almost. It's unpredictable, and catches you off guard, and Barenboim was all over it (in the good way of being all over something). He wholly embraced the jagged edged parts as he did the longer lines. His technical mastery was something else as well---that piece is a monster to play, and he played it as if it were no big deal. It was refreshing in many ways, to see someone so in control of such a piece like that. Yes, you're aware that it's a challenge for him, but his clear mastery over it made it seem simpler than it was. It was breathtaking at times.
Of course for the Mahler, many people around me had their tissues out. Surprisingly, I wasn't one of them! I dunno what's gotten in to me, not crying at Mahler! Despite my lack of tears, it was a good performance. And it was lovely to hear Mahler again---I know I just heard him a few weeks back here in Indy, but it'd been quite a while before that, I think. So hearing his music was like....coming home in many ways. Also, hearing one of my favourite American orchestras play my favourite composer is always a treat, as I've said before. I felt nourished from hearing that performance. I also have gained more respect for trumpet players, as I watched principal trumpet Christopher Martin's face turn redder and redder during that really long, high note in the piece. No idea how he fits his lungs in to his body! Simply amazing---it sounded clear as a bell, and was perfectly in tune, and held beautifully. Kudos!
The Prelude to Parsifal was a nice ending to the evening, and well played. I love the scope of Wagner's writing. Even the preludes to his opera have as much depth to them as the operas themselves. I love how he slowly starts things off, and then he builds and molds the story, having it take shape in a way that is able to truly stun and capture you. That is the beauty--one of the beauties, at least--of Wagner. It is always a delight to hear his works, and that night was no exception.
I had a wonderful evening at the CSO. I enjoyed a wonderful seat, got to meet a friend I'd met via my blog (I have a reader! Wow!) that I'd long wanted to meet, and despite the fools walking/stumbling around, I enjoyed the great city of Chicago. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday! Thanks for having me, Chicago. I look forward to my next trip!