Riccardo Muti - Credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is coming for a West Coast tour, which will include the unique opportunity to see three different programs during a Cal Performances residency this weekend. Riccardo Muti will lead the CSO in symphonic music from Mozart to contemporary composer Elizabeth Ogonek, with Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Bruckner represented too.

There’s more information at the Cal Performances website.

The tour, which includes stops in Costa Mesa, Palm Desert, San Diego, and Los Angeles is only going to be doing all three of its programs when it’s in Berkeley, at Zellerbach Hall. Friday night’s concert begins with a work that calls on Muti’s career as a conductor of opera, the overture to William Tell. “This overture is one of the greatest creations of Rossini,” Muti says, “a sort of symphony by itself. Starts with one note. Not only one note, but one note by one player. And then this lament, this sort of desolazione, and then you have the storm. All these composers, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, always they dedicated some pages of music to the storm. And then you have this beautiful melody given to the English Horn that is the image of Switzerland calm… And then immediately, that all this peace is in danger because of the tyranny of the dictator.” He says the overture, because of its associations, doesn’t get the respect it deserves, and the same can be said for the music of Anton Bruckner, whose Fourth Symphony appears on that same concert, and who famously never stopped tweaking his works. “Bruckner was such a powerful composer, but inside he was very insecure, and when he finished the symphony, he always was ready to hear the opinion of colleagues, other conductors, friends. Bruckner always was very sensitive about all this advice,  and he tried to please the ideas of the others. Thinking that pleasing and following those ideas, he could make his work better.” The final concert on Sunday afternoon has back-to-back Brahms symphonies, his third, and second.

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