Since at least the late 1950s, any list of the five greatest orchestras in the United States has included the Chicago Symphony.

Riccardo Muti conducts Chicago Symphony.
Riccardo Muti conducts Chicago Symphony. Credit: Courtesy photo

The list of its past music directors includes many of the greatest names in Twentieth Century music, such as Rafael Kubelík (1950-53), Fritz Reiner (1953-62), Sir Georg Solti (1969-91), Daniel Barenboim (1991-2006), and Bernard Haitink (2006-10).

The list of principal guest conductors, much shorter, includes the peerless musicians Carlo Maria Giulini (1969-72), Claudio Abbado (1982-85), and Pierre Boulez (1995–2006).

All in all, no orchestra in America can boast the equal of this roster. The Chicago Symphony’s current music director, Riccardo Muti (2010-present), is in every sense worthy of this heritage.

Now, the Community Arts-Music Association (CAMA) will host a concert by this great orchestra, conducted by Muti, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25 in the Granada Theater.

The program is comprised of Ludwig Beethoven’s “‘Coriolan’ Overture, Opus 62” (1807) and his “Symphony No. 8 in F-Major, Opus 93” (1812-14); Anatoly Lyadov’s tone poem, “The Enchanted Lake, Opus 62” (1909); and Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” (1874; orchestrated by Maurice Ravel, 1923).

The x-factor here, if there is one, is Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914), who is certainly not here to disturb the peace. He came from a family of highly placed professional musicians, dancers, and singers.

His paternal grandfather, Nikolai G. Lyadov, was conductor of the Petersburg Philharmonic Society; his father, Konstantin Lyadov, was chief conductor of the Imperial Opera Company; his mother, Vera Antipova, was a pianist; sister, Valentina, a dramatic actress, was first married to a famous opera singer, and then to a musician.

The influence of Chopin is evident in his piano music; in his orchestral works, his training under Rimsky-Korsakov, and his close association with The Five (Mily Balakirev, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Korsakov, and Alexander Borodin), and especially with Mussorgsky.

“The Enchanted Lake” is a late work, composed in the same year as the better-known “Kikimora, A Folk Tale, Opus 63.” The music makes the lake easy to picture, the morning mist rising from the limpid, mirrored surface, cranes silently stepping out of the water into the air, willows and ferns poised and motionless on the bank — the whole Maxfield Parrish demi-Eden, quite ravishing in its dream-like stillness.

Tickets to this concert are $36-$156 and can be purchased in person at the Granada Ticket office, 1214 State St., by phone at 805-899-2222, or online at https://ticketing.granadasb.org/17008?promoApplied=true.


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