Louis Lortie | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Louis Lortie 

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Louis Lortie made his debut when he was 13, playing Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with the Montreal Symphony. At 25 he won prizes at two prestigious international piano competitions, the Busoni and the Leeds. Now 44, this widely acclaimed French-Canadian pianist has made more than 30 recordings on the Chandos label and has played the complete cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas in Montreal, London, Berlin, and Milan. Although he's performed with most of the world's leading orchestras, he's never played with the CSO. His recording of the Chopin etudes, which he played here in 1996, offers an impressive if not especially romantic interpretation. His controlled rubato seems to put the composer's intentions above his own need for self-expression; his ability to keep things moving along is compelling, connecting phrases seamlessly and creating unexpectedly long musical lines. For his debut with the CSO he's chosen Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto, which can be haunting, breathtaking in its ferocity, and, at times, a bit much. Given the virtuosity and intensity of his recording of Chopin's last etude, "The Ocean," this ought to be a good concert. The program also includes the suite from Prokofiev's Cinderella and the world premiere of American composer Stephen Jones's At the Exactest Point, a work commissioned by the CSO. The Lyric Opera's Sir Andrew Davis conducts. Thursday through Saturday, January 8 through 10, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114.

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