The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam–the honorific was bestowed on It recently in recognition of its 100th birthday–has always been one of my favorite European interpreters of Mahler and the German Romantics. On the right night, under the right conductor, the Concertgebouw players are capable of lyrical, precise, high-intensity performances that put the Berlin Philharmonic (and the Chicago Symphony, for that matter) to shame. The orchestra had become more and more uneven under the often dull direction of Bernard Haitink, but it just may reclaim its former glory under new maestro Riccardo Chailly. Though I wish they had chosen works less familiar than the Schumann Fourth Symphony and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) for the Chicago leg of their first North American tour in years, I’m still curious to find out how the northern European ensemble responds to Chailly’s warmer, looser, more dapper ways. If the chemistry works, we’re likely to hear a moody, dramatic, poignant version of Mahler’s great orchestral song-symphony–especially “Der Abschied,” that apotheosis of the life of an artist. With tenor Goesta Winbergh, a Lyric Opera regular, and mezzo Jard van Nes, making her Chicago debut. Saturday, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666 or 435-8122.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kors Van Bennekom.