James Conlon saves the day as pinch-hitter for Bernard Haitink in CSO concert

James Conlon
Chicago Tribune

Those listeners of fanciful mind might imagine that the dark power of fate that gripped Gustav Mahler while he was composing "Das Lied von der Erde" ("The Song of the Earth") also shrouded, to an extent, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's performance of that great valedictory symphony Thursday night at Symphony Center.

Indisposition reared its unwelcome head, first with the cancellation of the scheduled conductor, Bernard Haitink, because of a stomach virus, later with the announcement from the stage that the tenor soloist, Stephen Gould, was suffering from a cold but had agreed to perform nonetheless.

Fortunately, James Conlon was available on relatively short notice to take over Haitink's entire Schubert-Mahler program. ... [In Das Lied von der Erde] Conlon drew atmospheric playing in the orchestral interlude and made much of Mahler's chamber-music-like scoring. ... The autumnal lyricism that colors much of Mahler's masterpiece also found its way into Conlon's mellow, gently flowing account of Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony on the first half of the program.
Read the rest of the review here