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.

Michael Henoch earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music with highest honors from Northwestern University where he studied with Ray Still, former principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While still a student, he was appointed by eighth music director Sir Georg Solti to become assistant principal oboe of the CSO in 1972. Henoch also was a regular member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra for three years, has performed as principal oboe at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont along with many other summer festivals, including Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart and the Carmel Bach festivals. In 1996, Henoch was named artistic co-director of the Chicago Chamber Musicians, an ensemble he performed with from the group’s inception in 1986, and in 2008, he founded Dempster Street Pro Musica. Currently, Henoch is professor of oboe at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.

Michael Henoch’s Favorite CSO (scroll down for recordings available for streaming via Spotify):

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Sheherazade, Op. 35
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1960 for RCA
Fritz Reiner, conductor
Sidney Harth, violin
“These vintage RCA recordings captured a clarity and depth of sound that has always been recognized as state of the art for the period. Fritz Reiner was attentive to every detail and captured Rimsky-Korsakov’s style in a majestic performance.”

MARTIN Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra and VARÈSE Arcana
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1966 for RCA
Jean Martinon, conductor
Donald Peck, flute
Ray Still, oboe
Clark Brody, clarinet
Willard Elliot, bassoon
Dale Clevenger, horn
Jay Friedman, trombone
Adolph Herseth, trumpet
Donald Koss, timpani
“Jean Martinon often programmed the music of Frank Martin, whose works are underappreciated and rarely performed today. The principal wind and brass players of the CSO, acting as soloists in this virtuoso showpiece, display their mastery in every phrase of this extraordinary work. I was a Northwestern student of Ray Still, principal oboe,when this LP was released, and I wore out the grooves on this amazing recording.”

MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1970 for London
Georg Solti, conductor
“This was the signature work conducted by Sir Georg Solti with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, arguably the greatest Mahler orchestra in our time. The Fifth was made for Solti’s approach that brought tremendous energy, rhythmic synchronicity, tenderness, and his visionary sense of the musical architecture to everything he conducted. Maestro Solti hired me and I still owe him a debt of gratitude for the interest he took in my musical development.”

MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D Major
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1976 for Deutsche Grammophon
Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor
1977 Grammy award for Best Orchestral Performance
“I heard Carlo Maria Giulini’s live performance of this complex work when I was in college. After I joined the Orchestra in 1972, he programmed it again, and I had the honor playing it and recording it with him; this recording also won the Grand Prix du Disque. I have played it over the years with every major conductor, and his interpretation still sets the standard in my opinion. Giulini had a mystic affinity with this late Mahler masterpiece unlike any other artist.”

BARTÓK The Miraculous Mandarin and Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1994 for Deutsche Grammophon
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
Pierre Boulez, conductor
“Pierre Boulez considered Bartók to be one of the five greatest composers of the twentieth century (the others were Debussy, Schoenberg, Webern, and Stravinsky). His Bartók was not the most idiomatic in the Hungarian tradition, but his peerless attention to detail and balance allows every strand of this remarkable work to emerge with laser-like focus.”

VERDI Messa da Requiem
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 2009 for CSO Resound
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Mario Zeffiri, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
2010 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance
“Without a doubt, Maestro Riccardo Muti is greatest advocate for the music of Verdi. He understands the style like no one else, and he conducts this work in a personal way that speaks to mankind with profound empathy for the human experience.”

Michael Henoch’s Favorite CSO (available recordings via Spotify):

TOP: Michael Henoch | © Todd Rosenberg 2010