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Orange County Gets a Big Dose of Muti Magic

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

REVIEW: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of its departing conductor, delivers a program that showcases its gifts.

Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall during his farewell tour with the group in 2023. Credit: Photo courtesy of Philharmonic Society of Orange County/© Todd Rosenberg

Half a century ago, Riccardo Muti, then a wunderkind near the beginning of his stellar career, first conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival. Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” was part of his premiere performance.

It’s both fitting and touching, then, that on his farewell tour as the orchestra’s music director, Muti is again conducting “Pictures.” It was on Tuesday evening’s program at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall along with two other works that showcased the ensemble’s celebrated balance of brawn and finesse: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and “The Enchanted Lake,” a richly colorful symphonic poem by Russian Romantic composer Anatoly Liadov.

Muti, 81, is in his final season with the Chicago Symphony, and his departure is among several significant baton passings at American orchestras. Most prominent among them is Jaap van Zweden, who is leaving the New York Philharmonic in 2024. Locally, Pacific Symphony announced it is looking for a successor to music director Carl St.Clair. Next season will bring an impressive array of “guest” (ie. auditioning) conductors to Chicago, including Marin Alsop and Christian Thielemann.

The touring program was clearly chosen to allow Muti and the orchestra an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths. They didn’t disappoint.

This full story can be accessed for free in its entirety at Voice of OC.

Classical music coverage at Culture OC is supported in part by a grant from the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. Culture OC makes all editorial decisions.



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