Sunday, February 11, 2007


The similarities in the music of Johann Strauss, Jr. and Richard Strauss are not immediately obvious, but they exist and are heightened when the two composers are combined in one concert with Gyorgy Ligeti, a composer of more recent lineage whose unique sound is more brittle, seemingly a part of the frigid air that has recently blanketed the city. Last night the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of David Zinman, performed works by these three composers. I was mesmerized by the swaths of sound during the performance of Strauss, Jr.'s Blue Danube Waltz. The piece as played seemed more akin to a symphony rather than a simple waltz (which it is not). After obeisance to the twentieth century and a brief intermission, the orchestra performed an admirable rendition of Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, by Richard Strauss. The latter piece, one of his signature tone poems, is more impressive in performance than on disk, and the exceptional performance of the CSO made it a lovely way to end the evening.

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