The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s commercial recording legacy began on May 1, 1916, when second music director Frederick Stock led the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Columbia Graphophone Company. The Orchestra has since amassed an extraordinary, award-winning discography on a number of labels—including Angel, CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, London/Decca, RCA, Sony, Teldec, Victor, and others—continuing with releases on the in-house label CSO Resound under tenth music director Riccardo Muti. For My Favorite CSO, we asked members of the Chicago Symphony for their favorite recordings (and a few honorable mentions) from the Orchestra’s discography.

Hailing from Bowling Green, Ohio, Aleaxnder Hanna was a prize-winning fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and studied at the Curtis Institute of Music. Shortly after completing his degree, he was appointed principal bass of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until Riccardo Muti appointed him to the same position in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2012. An avid chamber musician, Hanna has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Mitsuko Uchida, and Jeremy Denk, among many others, along with performing at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the Bellingham Festival of Music, and on the CSO’s MusicNOW series. A dedicated teacher, he serves on the faculty of DePaul University and coaches the bass section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Alexander Hanna’s Favorite CSO (scroll down for recordings available for streaming via Spotify):

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1970 for London
Georg Solti, conductor
“Everyone on earth should hear the CSO perform a Mahler symphony before they die. There is no orchestra on the planet that can bring to life these great works quite like the CSO. I grew up admiring these recordings, and especially whenever I hear Mahler’s Fifth Symphony mentioned I will always think of Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”

BRITTEN Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Op. 31
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1977 for Deutsche Grammophon
Robert Tear, tenor
Dale Clevenger, horn
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
“Benjamin Britten is one of my favorite composers, and of his repertoire, this is my favorite work. Dale Clevenger’s playing in this recording is truly outstanding. The beautiful poetry, daring virtuosity, and range of his playing is at times almost unbelievable.”

SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47 and FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Recorded at the Philharmonie in Berlin, Germany in 1997 for Teldec
Maxim Vengerov, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor and piano
“I encountered this performance as a student in the late 1990s. I had never heard Sibelius’s Violin Concerto before, but it instantly became one of my favorite works. Maxim Vengerov is one of my favorite musicians. His performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on our 2013 tour of Asia remains a highlight as well.”

SCHOENBERG Kol nidre, Op. 39 and SHOSTAKOVICH Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 2012 for CSO Resound
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
“The suite is one of the handful of pieces that I had never heard of until Maestro Muti brought it to the CSO. I now recognize and cherish it as a masterpiece. Shostakovich’s use of the lower strings is prominent as usual, and it was a joy to feel at times like the basses were playing a duet with the great Ildar Abdrazakov.”

Alexander Hanna’s (available recordings via Spotify):

TOP: Alexander Hanna | © Todd Rosenberg 2019