Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Best of the Rest, 2007

Traditionally this would be where I'd give you a list of my favorite music in a variety of categories. (Paul has the whole deal up on 3 Minutes, 49 Seconds.) But, as you'll see when you read the Best of 2007 post, this was no ordinary year. And so, I have but one recommendation to offer in this space this year. It's about my best concert experience--but you can share it with me, even though it took place way back in May.

It was my first time hearing Bernard Haitink conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the program was a doozy: Bruckner's 7th Symphony. I arrived excited to see Haitink, enthused about our seats (we'd finally made the switch from the upper balcony to the lower and expected a better view and better listening experience), and delighted with the piece about to be performed.

Wouldn't you know it? For once, I went into something with high hopes and was still completely blown away. Haitink had me at hello, and for almost 70 minutes I was enraptured. I've been going to more and more classical concerts every year since I moved back to Chicago in 2003, and over time I've had plenty of great experiences; I chronicled one transcendent night at Ravinia in 2006 and I can remember plenty of others (Marin Alsop's rendition of Tchaikovsky 4, Pierre Boulez's Mahler 7, Paavo Jarvi's night of two Concertos for Orchestra, one Bartok, the other Lutoslawski...). But on May 12 of this year, for the first time, something incredible happened.

I cried.

Those who know me know that I cry easily; the wrong song on the radio, or a sad ending to a movie or TV show, is all it takes. But at a concert? Of music that ostensibly has no set meaning?

And yet, when the piece drew to a close, there the tears were, in my eyes, welling up even through thunderous applause.

And why, you ask, do you care? Because for once, I can share my concert experience with you. The CSO has released a recording of that very performance. It's the second release on its new CSO Resound label, and the first to be released as a Super Audio CD. You can buy it here. I cannot promise that it will bring tears to your eyes, but if it does, you've been warned.

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