Conductor Chris Russell, a friend of Classical Life, will host the pre-concert talk tonight at 7 p.m. He’ll be interviewing the composer Mason Bates, whose new “Alternative Energy” we’ll hear Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony perform.
Bates participates in the performance of “AE,” by the way. He operates the electronics from a computer keyboard.
There has been some discussion about the program. Not many correspondents seem to have heard Honegger’s “Pacific 231” in live performance. It is a rarity. As it happens, I have heard it live, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion conducted by David Zinman. I think it was the Baltimore Symphony, but it may have been LA Phil. At any rate, I was young and stoked about it, and purposely timed my very loud bravo for the moment of silence between the last chord and the applause. Many months later, I was driving around in my car and there was a recording of “Pacific 231” on the radio. When it ended, I heard a loud “Bravo!” followed by applause. It was the performance I had been at.
Also, a couple of people say that they’ve never quite warmed to Franck’s Symphony, which closes tonight’s program. I had the same feeling, until I heard the recording made by the Chicago Symphony and conductor Pierre Monteux. I’ll wager it will convince you as well. It’s in my recommended recordings.
Finally, I’d like to pass along a very satisfying moment in my interview with Muti, which didn’t make it into the article. We were talking a little bit about “Pacific 231” and I asked him if he had ever heard “Rugby” by the same composer. Muti said he knew the title, but had never heard the piece. So, I told him it was a very interesting piece and it was a kind of sequel to “Pacific 231.”
“Ah, so I will look at,” he said. “Maybe next time I will bring to you. … Thank you for telling me this. I will ask immediately for a librarian to bring me the score.”
I have since been informed by the Chicago Symphony that Muti does indeed have the score to “Rugby” in hand. How cool is that?
The recording of “Rugby” (above) is by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.