Well after a full weekend of working on homework (the sad part of school), I finally have some time to post about last Thursday’s concert, which was – as usually the case is with Maestro Muti’s concerts – incredible!
I first heard the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony when I watched The King’s Speech in junior high, and it’s of course one of the most popular movements in the symphonic repertoire. There was no doubt regarding its popularity and status as a crowd-pleaser last Thursday night, as the performance of the entire 7th symphony – specifically the majestic 2nd movement and the rousing finale of the 4th movement – earned a standing ovation from just about everyone in the room. I believe that I’ve read somewhere (can’t remember where exactly) that the 2nd movement was what got Maestro Muti really interested in classical music (or something to that effect…), and it isn’t hard to see why that would be the case – it’s really a magnificent work.
But, with that being said, my absolute favorite part was Martucci’s La canzone dei ricordi, sung by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who was making her debut with the Chicago Symphony on Thursday! I feel like when people talk about song cycles and lieder and stuff, they usually refer to Schubert and Mahler, but seriously, there is absolutely no reason why Martucci shouldn’t be listed as well. I didn’t spend the concert reading the translations because I just wanted to listen to the music, and I’m glad I did – the people sitting next to me seemed more concerned with understanding the words and I think it ultimately detracted them from the music (which is the most important part, right?). I’ll go back and listen to Maestro Muti’s recording with Mirella Freni and read the translations then, but I was very content with just focusing on the music – Martucci’s hauntingly beautiful melodies and harmonies are filled with deeply rich sonorities that were really brought out by both DiDonato and the orchestra. I need to get more Martucci recordings onto my iTunes library (I think that means it’s time for some Amazon shopping)!
And finally…check out this NYT article on the concert that came out just yesterday, which does a pretty good job of highlighting Maestro Muti’s commitment to (seemingly forgotten) Italian composers (who aren’t Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, etc.). Though, just a super minor correction on the article that should be added IMO. Maestro Muti doesn’t just focus on late 19th/20th century Italian composers, but also goes back to the 18th century – he had a huge emphasis on Neapolitian composers like Mercadante and Cimarosa when he was the director of the Whitsun Festival in Salzburg a few years ago! (All the stuff I learned about during my Salzburg trip is coming in handy :D) Now, I wasn’t alive when Toscanini was around, but it’s pretty cool how Maestro Muti is really the “Toscanini” of this time period, in the sense that he does so much to share the works of these Italian composers (it seems like these two are really the only major conductors who have focused on conducting Martucci’s works unfortunately…). However, the two conductors are alike in many other respects as well – I could go on and on about this 😀 Anyways, hopefully there will be more concerts in the future featuring these great composers!