With Haitink sidelined, James Conlon steps in and leads CSO, singers in Mahler to remember

James Conlon
Chicago on the Aisle

Amazingly enough, on almost no notice, the CSO turned to an old friend, an experienced, highly regarded conductor who was available to take on what is arguably Mahler’s masterwork. Indeed, James Conlon ... did more than stand in: He shepherded the CSO and two very capable singers through a richly hued and conceptually profound account of “Das Lied von der Erde” that will long be remembered.

Conlon led the CSO in a bracing, eloquent, pervasively brilliant performance that was especially notable for the many fine moments by the woodwind principals. ... When Connolly’s last dying phrases of “Ewig, ewig…” (Forever, forever) had passed into silence, Conlon kept one hand high in the air, an injunction against any other sound – which the audience observed with pin-drop respect for a good 20 seconds or more. Then the torrent came, a huge ovation for what was, after all, a CSO season highlight. ... [In Schubert's Symphony No. 8] Here was Conlon as poet-conductor, manifest master of Schubert’s unfinished yet self-sufficient drama without words. 
Read the rest of the review here