Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on August 1, 1986 · 25
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 25

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Friday, August 1, 1986
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Chicago Tribune, Friday, August 1, 1835 Section 2 & ir m m w k "ui.Kik ... a -m kJ u r Heinz Holliger breathes a new sound into two oboe concertos By Howard Reich Heinz Holliger arguably the finest oboe virtuoso on the concert circuit today-made his Chicago Symphony debut Thursday night at Ravinia in a fashion that handsomely lived up to expectations, and then some. Certainly few oboists would venture to perform both Richard Strauss' immensely difficult Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra and J.S. Bach's Oboe d'amore Concerto in A Major BVW 1055) on the same program. That the Swiss musician was able to dispatch both works with meticulous style and control in itself helped to explain why he is so revered by audiences and colleagues. More important, though, is the very nature of his virtuosity. Holliger seems incapable of applying his remarkable technique toward anything but the most musical gestures. To him, the shape and bloom of a phrase, the fullness of its tone and the shading of its contours are the primary concerns. Yes, he has one of the most masterful breathing techniques one is likely to hear. And, yes, he can shift from mercurial figurations to a ripe singing tone in a nearly imperceptible instant But Holliger uses all this facility to better capture the nuances of the score and never as a mer$ display of technical prowess. His exquisite spinning of long phrases in the Strauss, for instance, made one forget that oboists have to take a breath now and then. In sprightlier rhythmic passages, Holliger uttered ideas more delicately than one might have thought possible in a large out-" door setting. Alas, Holliger received little help from guest conductor Edo de Waart's accompaniment with the Chicago Symphony. De Waart, formerly music director of the San Francisco Symphony and recently appointed music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, had little control over the CSO, allowing it to compete with the soloist more often than not. The same problem pervaded the Bach concerto, though Holliger's impeccable taste for period style helped one focus on his work and tune out De Waart's. A routine reading of Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 followed Holliger's performance and made one wish for yet another oboe concerto instead. It was a pleasure to hear Leonard Slatkin lead the Grant Park Symphony Wednesday night, if only to relish the re- v markable control he still wields over the orchestra more than a decade since stepping down as its principal conductor. Slatkin, music director of the St. Louis Symphony and a frequent Grant Park guest artist, clearly maintains a fine relationship with the players, who respond to him with enthusiasm and precision. Thus Slatkin's reading of Copland's complete "Billy the Kid" ballet score though quite different from the richly colored account of the "Billy the Kid" Suite Michael A F . Stormfield turns Beckett works into the right sense of danger Oboe virtuoso Heinz Holliger Tilson Thomas offered last week at Ravinia had a clarity and vigor that visibly charmed the audience. Slatkin took this music at quite a clip, preferring an energetic, extroverted approach to Thomas' expansive mood painting. The big sounds and charged-up rhythms nicely conjured up the rough-hewn West, and if one missed Thomas' lyric sensitivity, Slatkin's larger-than-life version nevertheless made its point. His rhythmic precision and meticulously scaled crescendos showed there was far more than just bluster here. Bulgarian pianist Emile Naoumotl1 made an impressive Grant Park debut with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor K. 491, overcoming the flat, lifeless sonority of the piano on a humid night with beautifully sculpted lyric phrasing. By Sid Smith Entertainment writer The Stormfield Theatre Company is presenting a sweet, poetic evening in the form of two smaller works by Samuel Beckett "Krapp's Last Tape" and "Theatre II." Consider this blunt program note: "Samuel Beckett is the world's greatest living playwright, bar none." Plucky stuff, especially since Beckett isn't nearly the rage he was once, neither hip nor shocking nor avant-garde. If anything, he's a little old-fashioned. But what an inestimable artist, and not just for the ashheap vision he gave us of our time. He also understood emptiness and suffering with visceral, accessible, heartbreaking poetics. His characters so busy .doing those puzzling things in puzzling places always ache very deeply. As time goes on, Beckett's novelty doesn't seem nearly as mystifying as his wisdom. Certainly that's evident in "Krapp's Last Tape," Beckett's 1958 quirky, ever-curious version of the "Seven Ages of Man." On the surface, it's very simple. Krapp, elderly and besotted, plays a tape of himself he made in middle age, a recitation that in turn refers to some passages he wrote as an even younger man. Back then, he rhapsodized about love and his own transcendental flashes; now he sees his younger and middle-aged selves for the romantic, pompous, verbose fools they were. How silly we are to have dreams, the older Krapp says, just before revealing how desperately he wishes he could still have them. Richard Burton Brown approaches the unforgettable as Krapp, thanks in part to ait.' extraordinary weapon his face. His sagging; jowls, gaping mouth, glistening eyes and clean Midwestern eloquence render him the'4 perfect tool for Beckett's Everyman. He modulates subtly, so that when Krapp reaches a kind of epiphany shouting "B4 again, be again" plaintively to his own, past Brown can engineer the moment into a truly chilling, tragic one. Brown's aly wryly funny in his dotage in the early, moments of the play, when the script calls for a peeled banana to hang, almost oIK scenely, from his mouth. The piece is excellently staged by veteran Chicago actor James O'Reilly. If "Krapp" is an important smaller work, "Theatre II," the program opener, might be said to be a subminor one. Still, it makes f an interesting companion piece. Two', women smoothly enacted by Patriciaj Wappner and Amanda Sullivan discuss and evaluate a third character, who sits rootedj to a chair with his back to us for the entire play. Whatever their positions social work, ers? political oppressors? prison guards?, they mostly criticize their charge for failing to exhibit any passion for living. . But, with typical Beckett irony, they turn out to be clinical, cold and lifeless, while1 the mute, immobile figure they control; becomes a rock-like symbol of compassion and pity. Terry McHabe's direction is aptp though a little sluggish, but the set anj3 , lighting design for both plays creates a won-r derful sense of atmospheric mystery ancj danger. ' ! Street feposisf "i 0 CzMiMzti&sMii 1 v teak nmiriG noon wwpii Hi V LAST WEEKEND TO SAVE From our house to your home. The House of Teak. . . the only way you should buy Fine Danish Furniture. mm i IH 11 U IB II 11 tl H m 1 - 1 Teak Trestle Table I Solid Teak Dining Chairs 1 3 Door Lighted Teak withftriemi(wlives65'M"nfnito104 I with bftioe ubholstard Mat I ftiln fohtiat S SALE $G09lS SALE MOO & SALE $G00 OUR SUPER WALL UN IT-BACK IN STOCKS This 96" Teak Wall Unit will adapt itself to any room. KD SALE 329 Computer Station In Teak Functional Computer Station. Perfect in the Home or Office. In beautiful veneer and solid Teak edging. 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