Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus | Symphony Center | Classical | Chicago Reader
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When: Thu., Oct. 22, 8 p.m., Fri., Oct. 23, 8 p.m., Sat., Oct. 24, 8 p.m. and Tue., Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m. 2009
Price: $24-$199
Last season's sensational performances of Verdi's Requiem under the baton of Chicago Symphony Orchestra music-director designate Riccardo Muti—"the highlight of my 23 years with the CSO," declared cellist Gary Stucka—should have calmed those who feared that the orchestra was becoming a rudderless ensemble. Muti may not shape the CSO, as Solti and Barenboim did, or shepherd it into new territory, but he will always keep it at the top of its game. For these four performances he'll lead the orchestra in Brahms's German Requiem. The composer wrote it for all of mankind—though its text is drawn from the Lutheran Bible, it's a nonliturgical piece—and among the great requiems it's the most human. Unfolding with incandescent beauty and a resignation that's somehow uplifting, it bypasses intellect, even the heart, and speaks directly to the soul. Brahms's writing for the chorus is to lovers of choral music what the Sirens were to Ulysses, and the CSO's Chorus is always stunning in this piece, though one hopes Muti will coax a bit more warmth from the group. For soloists the director has chosen two relatively light voices: young Swedish lyric soprano Elin Rombo and elegant Canadian baritone Russell Braun. —Steve Langendorf

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