Edo de Waart conducts the CSO- 4 concerts of Mozart and Beethoven

On June 2, 3, 4 and 7, 2016, Dutch conductor Edo De Waart led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in subscription concerts featuring works by Mozart and Beethoven, with Daniel Gingrich, CSO Acting Principal Horn player as soloist, at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, Chicago. De Waart, Currently Music Director of both the Milwaukee  and the New Zealand Symphonies as well as Chief Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Conductor Laureate of the Netherlands radio Philharmonic, stepped in at the last minute for guest Conductor Christopher Dohnanyi, recovering from eye surgery. He did a wonderful job with our great orchestra in this resonant program.

Edo de Waart; photo courtesy of Edo de Waart

 This reviewer attended the first performance. The CSO, under the firm, controlled hands (and baton) of De Waart, performed two symphonies in the key of D Major, Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 in D Major, known as “The Prague”, (K. 504), and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major (Op. 36), with Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major, (K. 447), featuring Gingrich in-between- a beautiful, lyrical program.

Daniel Gingrich and Maestro Edo de Waart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his Symphony No. 38 in late 1786; it premiered in Prague on January 19, 1787, during his first visit to that city, giving the work it’s name. It has been posited that the symphony was written for the visit, in light of the lavish use of wind instruments, as “the wind players of Bohemia were famed throughout Europe” at this time. In any event, it has been acknowledged that Mozart’s use of wind instruments in the piece “represents a major advance in Mozart’s symphonic technique that was imitated in his last symphonies” and also imitated by other composers, including Beethoven.  Indeed, the ” Prague” contains many passages in which one hears no stringed instruments at all- only wind ensembles of various kinds.

Daniel Gingrich with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

De Waart opened the three sonata-form movements with this symphonys famously long, slow and sophisticated introduction, which gave way to 6 melodies, the violins “trading off”,  the orchestral effects of tympani and winds announcing the final chord. The second movement begins traditionally and then shifts into contrasting moods. Finally, the third movement, with its prominent flute, has been called lively, and even boisterous, with repeats of both halves. DeWaart and the CSO produced a sophisticated version of this remarkably emotional piece- the great wind players almost violent in their rendition, yet always controlled.

Daniel Gingrich and Conductor Edo de Wart with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The 4 Horn Concertos, each approximately 20 minutes in duration, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were written for his childhood friend, Joseph Leutgeb, a skilled player. They were notoriously difficult to play on that period’s natural horn, and even today require a very skilled player, such as the CSO’s Daniel Gingrich. Horn Concerto no. 3 in E flat Major (Opus 36), completed between 1784 and 1787, during Mozart’s “Vienna Period”, was scored for 2 clarinets, 2 Bassoons, Solo Horn and strings; the work is in three movements, and, at 15 minutes long, is typically grouped with the others. Hearing it alone between the Symphonys brought a lovely interlude of fine solo performance. The concerto “has clarinets besides bassoons and strings for accompaniment. They bring warmth and light coloring to this most attractive work.” Gingrich skillfully managed the challenges of the piece, concluding energetically with the especially strong finale.

Horn player Daniel Gingrich

After the intermission, the sold-out audience was treated to Ludwig Von Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, (Op.360), written between 1801-1802, at a time when the composer’s deafness was becoming more profound. This piece was a divergence from the typical symphonic form, since it lacked the standard minuet, replacing it with a scherzo, which, it has been acknowledged, gave the bold composition “even greater scope and energy”. Maestro de Waart, immaculate in couture black attire, held the CSO on a strong lead in this 35 -minute symphony.   The piece was much criticized in it’s day for containing musical jokes (typical of Beethoven) in the last two movements; the Scherzo “encloses a melodious oboe and bassoon quartet within typical Austrian side-slapping dance”, while the fourth and final movement, composed of very lovely rapid string passages, opens with what has been called a motif resembling a hiccup! To this reviewer, it sounded more like a little gallop- a lively way to start.

Daniel Gingrich and Conductor Edo de Waart

 For tickets to other wonderful concerts by the Chicago Symphony and it’s attendant programs and series, go to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website www.cso.org

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Todd Rosenberg 



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