The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The Best Shine for the Classics

WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST, GO SEE THEM PLAY!

Yesterday’s performance at Symphony Center was stellar in its nature and character and its cast: the greatest and grandest orchestra in the world, our very own Chicago Symphony.

The performance began with Haydn’s Symphony Number 93 in D Major, holding everyone rapt from the opening notes. Certainly every section of the orchestra had the opportunity to shine, and here in the piece’s four brilliant movements, as in every piece that followed, the woodwinds and brass gave out a “megawatt” show. Maestro Honeck gratefully acknowledged the soloists and others who gave out efforts that caused the mind to soar and the soul to lose every ounce of stress and open up to what can happen when years of practice and hard work and diligence come together for this performance.

Next came Strauss’s Don Juan, which in only a few minutes had the power to engender in the classical imagination visions of a man of adventure and excitement, of love and loss, of struggle and of dying… but still making a last effort to survive in a chaotic and confusing world. Even were one not to know the stories of Don Juan, this marvelously structured piece had the most incredible way of bringing up in the heart, soul and spirit the rounds we face daily whether at work or at home or traveling or at play. We have our star – like brass moments, our high flight woodwind moments, our beating times of kettle drums and the ringing of percussion and timpani summoning us to higher and greater achievements.

At the end of this piece as he had with the first and would with the last, the conductor singled out the horn section, the principal flute first followed by others of the winds, and the principal members of the string section, each one humbled to be given this honor in the presence of an appreciative audience resounding with (a few whistles and occasional cries of “Bravo”!). Most though let applause stand for the vehicle of showing their admiration.

After intermission, when all patrons were seated and the orchestra finished its tuning, and Maestro Honeck mounted the podium, our superior CSO launched into the stirring notes of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7 in A Major, Opus 92.

The maestro put me at times in mind of a major – league pitcher winding up and sending a high – speed ball straight towards a franchise batter, or at other times a sporty performance manager encouraging and directing his team towards higher and grander musical discussions. Even at other times the maestro seemed to dance across that small square of dais, hopping around and gesturing and lifting his baton as though about to imitate the best batter in all of baseball in hitting a homer out of the ballpark. Soaring on and up as though they were one single towering home run, the dozens of fabulous musicians in their uniforms of black, the members of our orchestra returned those fastballs in a “right back at you” way that held everyone in suspense and thrill and some on the edges of their seats, waiting for each volley and play, each call and response. Onward the brass section mounted, the woodwinds and the basses measuring them at every step, and the rest of the strings held valiantly with the basses, keeping things moving until the last notes of the fourth movement had settled upwards into the high ceiling of the auditorium.

Four curtain calls later, my companion and I exited through the doors of the lower balcony, listening to patrons describe this show as a powerhouse, as the best, and at other times letting reverent silence and expressions mirroring the privilege and honor of being in the presence of the best musicians in the world. Any time you are able, purchase a ticket and go see a performance.

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony- a magical, inspiring work to be enjoyed by every person in every age group and all over the world. Let this wondrous work fill you with the majesty of classical music today.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

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