Daniel Barenboim’s honeymoon at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is clearly over: orchestra members are grumbling about their leader’s bewildering and sometimes bland interpretive choices, loyal subscribers are invoking memories of the Solti era, and the jet-setting European-based maestro has yet to keep his promise of spending more time in the city. About the only good thing to come out of his tenure so far is the scheduling of new music–a move that, not surprisingly, has alienated many old-timers. And amid all the disenchantment the Orchestral Association has had the gall to ask the city’s corporations to cough up money for its ambitious expansion plan. So there’s some irony–certainly unintended–in Barenboim choosing to open the new season with a requiem. Verdi’s Requiem is a floridly melodramatic work commemorating the death of the great 19th-century Italian writer Manzoni, one that beseeches and rails at cruel fate. Its operatic nature is underscored by the passionate outbursts of the soloists and the eloquent entreaties of the chorus, and the orchestral accompaniment ranges from the sweet murmurs of violins to frightful thunderclaps from the brass and percussion–just the right showcase for the CSO’s celebrated sound and fury. Newcomer Alessandra Marc (soprano) joins longtime Barenboim collaborators Waltraud Meier (mezzo), Vicente Ombuena (tenor), and Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass) in the vocal quartet. Margaret Hillis is in charge of the CSO chorus. Let’s hope, for his own sake, that Barenboim puts an indelible stamp on this one. Friday, 7.30 PM, and Saturday, Thursday, and next Saturday, September 25, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Steere.