Carlos Kleiber made his U.S. debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 12, 13, and 14, 1978, conducting Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, Schubert’s Third Symphony, and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
“Kleiber’s arrival here was preceded by almost as much excited anticipation and ecstatic European notices as greeted [Sir Georg] Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini when they gave their first performances with the Orchestra back in the mid-1950s. . . . Is the man really as good as everyone says he is?” asked John von Rhein in the Chicago Tribune. He answered his own question. “Thursday night provided the answer: No, he is even better.” Von Rhein continued, “He pays this orchestra the ultimate (and how seldom realized!) complimentby simply letting it play. He obviously values passion over deliberation, intensity over clinical perfection, spontaneity over calculation. He is a conductor of rare brilliance, and rarer humility. . . . It sounded in fact like an entirely different orchestra, and it delivered one of the most electrifying kinetic Fifths this reviewer has ever heard.”
Kleiber returned for a second engagement on June 2, 3, and 4, 1983, to lead the Orchestra in Butterworth’s English Idyll no. 1, Mozart’s Symphony no. 33, and Brahms’s Symphony no. 2. “Every score is seen both as a unity and as a series of flowing phrases, each one of which is to be shaped, colored, balanced, and accented as perfectly as possible,” wrote Robert C. Marsh in the Chicago Sun-Times. “There is never the slightest suggestion of routine, the lapse into the standard reading. Every bar is a fresh adventure, an invitation to discovery. His insight is exceptional. He can play music you think you know forward and backwards and show you one new vision after another.”
Image above: Carlos Kleiber and the Orchestra acknowledge applause following a performance of Brahms’s Symphony no. 2 on June 3, 1983 (Terry’s photo)
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