Orchestra of Saint Luke's | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Orchestra of Saint Luke's 

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Roger Norrington, an Oxbridge product with an aptly donnish demeanor, is music's man for all seasons. Over his astonishingly productive three-decade career he's prepped as a tenor and a violinist and helped found an opera company and a chamber orchestra. The English maestro's chief renown, however, is as a guru of the period-instrument movement. Most of the numerous recordings he's made with the London Classical Players and others demonstrate with eloquence and conviction the importance of reviving "historically accurate" performances. The approach hasn't always worked--as when he mistakenly used a modest-size ensemble to play Beethoven's late symphonies and piano concertos. But Haydn is another matter altogether. At this concert, Norrington and New York's well-regarded Orchestra of Saint Luke's will re-create, in spirit, an academy (lengthy concert) given by Dr. Haydn during one of his celebrated London sojourns. (The honorific was bestowed on the venerable composer by Oxford University, which got a symphony in return.) The program's centerpieces are two first-rate symphonies: number 92, which helped introduce Haydn to adoring English fans, and number 99, which further consolidated his reputation as a resourceful orchestrator. The layout of the orchestra, according to Norrington, will be as Haydn had it in London, with the string sections facing each other and a fortepiano included. Close attention to "phrasing and bowing" is promised. Also of interest is a sampler of Haydn's popular English songs based on folk tunes, to be sung by soprano Nancy Argenta. Monday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666 or 435-8122.

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