Chicago Symphony Orchestra Mozart, Bruckner Review – Perfection With Emanuel Ax and Bernard Haitink

As I joined the audience that filled Orchestra Hall on the evening of November 2nd, jumping out of our seats and bursting into thunderous applause, I was certain this was among the best musical events I have been privileged to experience.  You, too, have one more chance to see this wonderful performance on November 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm.  Run!


Pianist Emanuel Ax joined Bernard Haitink in performing Mozart’s beloved Piano Concerto No. 27, one of his most charming and an audience favorite, and also his last. This prefaced Bruckner’s warm-hearted Fourth Symphony, nicknamed the Romantic by the composer himself. The famous Scherzo movement is unforgettable, with its frolicking fanfares tossed to and fro between the horns, trombones and trumpets.


The pre-concert lecture was very helpful in bring the major themes to our awareness as well as bring lesser-known stories about the composers to our attention and thus enhanced the experience.


I feel that, in a sense, this program that featured Bernard Haitink, Conductor and Emanuel Ax, Piano was “aged to perfection”.   Emanuel Ax, first gained public attention 1974 when he won the first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv.  Arthur Rubinstein took Ax under his wing and what we heard was incredible.  Ax’s hand running across the keyboard as though a river running along as he played Piano Concerto No. 27 interacting seamlessly with the orchestra.


Amsterdam-born Bernard Haitink is one of today’s most celebrated conductors. Mr. Haitink was for 27 years Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; he is now their Conductor Laureate. In addition, Mr. Haitink has previously held posts as Music Director of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and Principal Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. He is Conductor Emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has made frequent guest appearances with most of the world’s leading orchestras.

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of Bernard Haitink’s conducting career.  He also celebrates his eighty fifth birthday with a series of concerts in New York with several orchestras.  How wonderful it was to be recipients of the fruit of his many years of experience.


It has been said of Anton Bruckner in the program notes for CSO that, “Bruckner has never been known to make a long story short, but he is a masterful storyteller”.  And Bruno Walter who brought Bruckner’s work into the limelight was quoted as saying, “Mahler was always searching for God but it was Bruckner who found God”. 


The orchestra was amazing.  The juxtaposition of brass and string instruments was not only beautiful to the ear but watching the synchronized bows was an experience I had not had in this way.  The repetitive musical themes and contrast of loud and energetic music with the lyrical gentle sounds was engaging and satisfying.  In my head were images of hunters moving through woods and a gentle grassed area.


Walking to the parking lot following the concert, sort of floating, we spoke with another couple who, agreed this was a remarkable concert and that all members gave 125%.  How fortunate we feel to have been present.


For tickets and more information:

220 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604

Phone:(312) 294-3000




Chicago Symphony Orchestra Website:


Photos: Todd Rosenberg

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