Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig 

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The Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig began as 16 musicians from a merchant concert society organized in 1743, but its roots go back to Telemann and Bach. It also collaborated with Mozart and premiered major works by the likes of Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. Mendelssohn led the Gewandhaus in the first performance of Schumann's First Symphony, and 166 years later the orchestra is bringing it to Symphony Center. This limited yet invigorating work is free of the emotional turbulence found in much of Schumann's piano music, and it can sweep the listener away. The second work on the program, Mahler's Fifth Symphony, is one of his most popular, yet it's difficult to get right. Though Mahler's writing is striking, the piece can sound like a collection of ideas he did better elsewhere--even the incredibly moving adagietto seems a precursor to the Ninth Symphony's incomparable last-movement adagio. Conductor Riccardo Chailly has long been an advocate of Mahler's music; his recent live recordings with the Gewandhaus, of Bruch and Mendelssohn, reveal a beautifully blended sound, with sections speaking as part of a whole. a 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $35-$79.

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