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Chicago Symphony Orchestra 

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The last time Riccardo Muti conducted the CSO, the Bears had just drafted Walter Payton. His return--a two-week stay at Symphony Center, followed by a seven-city European tour with the orchestra--could be an audition for music director. Muti opens with Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony (Pathetique). The composer declared that he'd put his whole soul into this work, and nine days after conducting its premiere he died (possibly by his own hand). In the most progressive of his symphonies, Tchaikovsky voices his sorrow and disillusionment, culminating in an ending that fades into gloom. Next is Hindemith's Nobilissima Visione, a three-movement suite condensed from his ballet depicting the transformation of Saint Francis of Assisi. This is wonderfully mystical music, with a transporting second-movement pastorale. The concert closes with Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy, in which the composer throws his exotic late romanticism into a microwave. Also Wednesday (see separate Treatment item; this program will omit the Scriabin) and Friday, September 21. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $19-$199. --Steve Langendorf

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