Chicago Symphony Orchestra
May 27, 2006 8:00pm
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Burkhard Fritz, tenor
Thomas Hampson, baritone
Rene Pape, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Boulez: Notations for Orchestra, I-IV + VII
Wagner: Parsifal, Act III
Sure, he's scolded Chicago hotels for playing Brahms in their elevators.
And yes, in an interview he once declared, "I can't stand going out to one more dinner with some Mrs. So-and-So who might leave a million dollars to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when she dies. It's torture."
And of course, he committed the unforgivable (and highly publicized) sin of conducting Richard Wagner in Israel.
So maybe you think Daniel Barenboim is an aloof, arrogant bastard. Or maybe, like me, you admire his refreshing willingness to speak the "politically incorrect" truth now and then.
Either way, there's no question that he is one of the greatest musicians of our time, and filling his shoes after he leaves the Music Director post of the Chicago Symphony at the end of this season will be a daunting task. (In fact, it has been almost two years since he announced his departure and a successor has yet to be named...)
You also have to appreciate the fact that he is singing — or at least conducting and playing — for his last supper as he concludes his 15 year tour of duty here in Chicago, opting to go out not with a whimper, but a bang... actually several bangs.
In his final four weeks of concerts at Symphony Center, Mr. Barenboim will conduct complex orchestral warhorses like Mahler's Fifth, Beethoven's Eroica, and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring; thorny modernist symphonic works by Elliott Carter, Anton Webern, and outgoing (thankfully) CSO composer-in-residence Augusta Read Thomas; and the Ninth Symphonies of Mahler, Bruckner, and Beethoven on three consecutive nights. He's also somehow finding the time to present two solo piano recitals performing the complete Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach (yes, both Book I and Book II) and conduct two Mozart piano concerti from the piano.