Emmanuel Krivine leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the exciting finale of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, with strings and brass going full tilt in a race to the finish. As CSO annotator Phillip Huscher observes in his notes for this program: “Dvořák adds one last rip-roaring page to ensure the audience enthusiasm that he had grown to expect.”

In the Chicago Classical Review, critic Lawrence A. Johnson reminds modern-day listeners that at the historic 1893 Columbian Exposition, Dvořák himself led the CSO in its first performances of the symphony. “The popular work has had several memorable local outings since and the exhilarating  performance delivered by Krivine and the musicians Thursday night was in that same fine tradition,” Johnson wrote. “The French conductor led a cleanly scrubbed account of the score that made this familiar work emerge vibrant and freshly minted. Krivine favored fleet tempos, lean textures and a lack of sentiment, lights years removed from, say, the Italianate warmth of Carlo Maria Giulini’s recording of the Eighth with the CSO.

“Yet Krivine’s modern approach provided its own rewards, with the outer movements crackling with energy. Though often referred to as Dvořák’s Pastoral symphony, there are ample dark shadows in this score. Krivine was superb in the Adagio, assaying the pensive shifting expression of this inward music. The performance was rounded off with a rousing account of the finale, Krivine pushing down hard on the accelerator in the closing bars to thrilling effect.”

Judge for yourself when the CSO repeats the work, along with Liszt’s Les préludes and Denis Kozhukhin in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2, on Nov. 19 and 22.