Conlon, Connolly, and Cox Combine for an Evening to Remember

James Conlon
Seen and Heard International

In one of the finest concerts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra season, conductor James Conlon gave two masterworks interpretations that made each seem fresh.

Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony had the perfection of a studio recording. Conlon allowed the exposition to unfold with slight modifications in tempo as the thematic materials took shape. Conlon gave the chordal interjections a percussive quality, while maintaining the lyrical structure of the movement. Those qualities were equally important in the second movement, which had the intensity of chamber music. Entrances were smooth and articulations appropriate, with clear voicings of chords.

The second half was devoted to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, which Conlon has conducted at Ravinia and elsewhere, and his mastery was evident. Each movement had its appropriate shape, with distinctive details. Always attentive to the line, Conlon gave equal elegance to the orchestral interludes.

Responding to Conlon with rapt attention, from the resonant lyricism in the Schubert, to the sometimes pointillistic passages in the fourth and fifth movements of Das Lied von der Erde, all forces combined for an incredibly powerful evening.
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