(WTTW News)

While her residency at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is ending, a New York-based composer hopes her influence on contemporary classical music will be long-lasting. 

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’sSymphonyNo. 6 in F Major on April 28, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The world may be in a terrible state of upheaval at the moment, but two different concerts performed during the past week — played brilliantly by the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — were a potent reminder that music is an astonishingly powerful emotional balm.

Guest conductor Jaap van Zweden leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s “Symphony No. 6 in A Minor” on April 21, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Breathtaking is nowhere near a powerful enough adjective to describe Gustav Mahler’s masterwork, “Symphony No. 6 in A Minor,” or its bravura rendering by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that was led by guest conductor Jaap van Zweden. 

Conductor Klaus Makela performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall on April 14, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg photography)

If you needed to be reminded of the genius of two groundbreaking early 20th century composers or hoped for an introduction to a fascinating contemporary composer, Thursday’s concert of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra unquestionably lived up to expectations.

Composer Missy Mazzoli acknowledges the audience following a performance of the world premiere of CSO Commission “Orpheus Undone.” (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti and the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featured three very different and extremely challenging works Thursday night that, as always, showcased the brilliance of both the composers and their interpreters.

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s “Symphony No.9” on Feb. 24, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

The CSO's bravura rendering of this masterwork was, indeed, a temporary balm for the soul and evidence of how great works of art speak to us throughout time.

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti and soloist Mitsuko Uchida acknowledge the audience following a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Feb. 17, 2022. (Credit : Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The pairing began with Beethoven’s demonically difficult 1806 “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major,” with Mitsuko Uchida as the incomparable soloist. And it was followed by Philip Glass’ “Symphony No. 11,” which had its world premiere in 2017, and now received a volcanic rendering by a monumental gathering of Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians.

Conductor Marin Alsop leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Barber’s Symphony No. 1. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Rachmaninov’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor,” is a nerve-shatteringly difficult work. Backed by the full orchestra, which was in its usual sublime form, Lukas Vondracek rendered the extraordinary work with a superb mix of both titanic power and surprising lyricism.

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leads Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Robert Chen, Associate Concertmaster Stephanie Jeong, Assistant Concertmaster David Taylor, and Assistant Concertmaster Yuan-Qing Yu in Vivaldi’s Concerto in B Minor for Four Violins and Cello. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra traveled back in time with a program of works by early 18th century Baroque masters Antonio Vivaldi and George Frideric Handel. 

Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform a program featuring Tchaikovsky’s Suite from “Swan Lake” on Jan. 20, 2022. (Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

What this glorious, superbly performed concert did prove was that listening to these works without the element of dance that ordinarily is a crucial partner of the music, you begin to hear them in a wonderfully fresh and exciting way. 

Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program on January 13, 2022. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Maestro Riccardo Muti was in stellar form during Thursday night’s concert in Orchestra Hall. He clearly is in love with the indomitable musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and they return that passion with a magnificent combination of sound and fury and absolute beauty.

CSO Artist-in-Residence Hilary Hahn performs Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada. (Credit: Anne Ryan)

Two different concerts by the ever-remarkable Chicago Symphony Orchestra arrived on the Orchestra Hall stage. Each came with a fascinating CSO-commissioned new work, a superb visiting conductor, and breathtaking performances by the phenomenal virtuoso violinists.

Daniel Binelli performs Piazzolla’s Bandoneon Concerto (Aconcagua) with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. (Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg)

Two remarkable concerts took place recently in Chicago and were designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Astor Piazzolla – the composer who transformed the traditional tango into an irresistible classical music hybrid.

The Company of “The Magic Flute” (Credit Cory Weaver)

Hedy Weiss reviews the Lyric Opera production of “The Magic Flute,” a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert, and “Homecoming,” the latest entry in the CSO’s MusicNOW series.

Guest conductor Manfred Honeck and Denis Matsuev acknowledge the audience following a performance of Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Thursday evening’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra program opened with “Coincident Dances,” a fascinating 2017 work by Jessie Montgomery, the orchestra’s current Mead Composer-in-Residence. She never fails to enthrall with her rhythmically complex, richly orchestrated, highly original pieces.

A moment of silence is observed by James Conlon and the CSO musicians in recognition of the passing of Maestro Bernard Haitink, who died on October 21, 2021. (Credit Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Thursday’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert began as guest conductor James Conlon turned to the audience and announced the news that Bernard Haitink, the world-renowned and much beloved conductor with strong ties to the CSO, had died earlier in the day at his home in London at the age of 92.