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.

Miles Maner served as associate principal bassoon and contrabassoon with the Kansas City Symphony and principal bassoon of the Breckenride Music Festival before being appointed by music director Riccardo Muti as bassoon and contrabassoon of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2013. The following year, he joined the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music.

Miles Maner’s Favorite CSO (scroll down for recordings available for streaming via Spotify):

PROKOFIEV Suite from Romeo and Juliet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 2013 for CSO Resound
Riccardo Muti, conductor
“This will always be a favorite recording of mine because it was my first set of performances with Riccardo Muti. I had joined the Orchestra earlier that summer and was feeling like a tiny fish in a stormy ocean. This recording captures what was, for me, the beginning of what continues to be a very challenging and rewarding tenure with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”

TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36 and Romeo and Juliet
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1997 for Teldec
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
“This recording represents the Orchestra that I listened to for motivation during my audition preparation sixteen years later. The group that recorded this would head to Carnegie hall a few months later, the video of which would be released on YouTube. The Orchestra is in top form in the video, effortlessly responding to the most subtle of Daniel Barenboim’s masterful conducting. The combination of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Barenboim is pure agility and explosive energy.”

MAHLER Complete Symphonies
Recorded in Orchestra Hall; Medinah Temple; Krannert Center, Urbana, Illinois; and Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria in 1970–1983 for London
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
“This massive collection of Mahler’s symphonies represents my first impression of Gustav Mahler. Mahler is known for unapologetically demanding orchestration and relentlessly detailed instruction for every performer on stage. All of those instructions are meticulously executed to the extreme under Sir Georg Solti’s direction. I had never heard such contrast in orchestral expression and color before I came across this set. For me and many other listeners, the reputation of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was either created or cemented here with these recordings.”

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 13 in B-flat Minor, Op. 114 (Babi Yar)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 2018 for CSO Resound
Riccardo Muti, conductor
Alexey Tikhomirov, bass
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, director
“Maestro Riccardo Muti is supremely demanding when it comes to orchestral dynamic capability. He requires the instrumentalists to have absolute dynamic control, particularly in the soft range. But, as I learned through our 2018 performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony no 13, Muti also likes a good roar once in a while. Some of the music from this symphony will raise the roof of any hall, and it was a delight to see Maestro relish in the blaring extremes Shostakovich requires.”

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
“Forever, an absolute highlight of my career will be our many performances of Verdi’s Requiem with Maestro Muti, both in Orchestra Hall and abroad, particularly in the Musikverien in Vienna. This 2009 recording, made before I was a member of the CSO, is a gorgeous representation of Muti’s vision. No one brings Verdi’s music to life like Riccardo Muti.”

A few honorable mentions:

Miles Maner’s Favorite CSO (available recordings via Spotify):

TOP: Miles Maner | ©Todd Rosenberg 2019