Georg Solti and Mendelssohn with Chicago Symphony

We continue our week long celebration of conductor Georg Solti on Classical 101 this evening on Symphony @ 7 with Sir Georg leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mendelssohn.

After establishing his career in European opera houses and concert halls, and in the recording studio, Georg Solti became the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1969.  His long and fruitful time with that ensemble also produced many very good recordings for Decca.  Yesterday, we had Solti conducting Haydn with The London Philharmonic;  this evening on Symphony @ 7, we have his mid-1980′s Chicago Symphony recording of Felix Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony ( Hint:  if you’re waiting for the really big works, tune in the rest of the week for Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler).

The unexpected commercial success of the first complete studio recording of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic, great Wagnerian singers, and the magnificent production from John Culshaw (released between 1958 and 1965) made Georg Solti famous.  It’s arguable that this Decca recording made his reputation more than his concert appearances.  But still, he more than proved himself in the concert hall and recording studio, where he continued to produce exciting performances and recordings in Chicago.  The Decca engineers produced recordings that brilliantly caught the big powerful sound that Solti created with the Chicago Symphony (with its thrilling brass section especially noteworthy). 

If this evening’s performance isn’t enough to convince you, don’t miss the two-hour Symphony @ 7 tomorrow for Beethoven.

Late in his life, Solti came to the music of Dmitri Shostakovitch and recorded some of the symphonies.  He seemed tireless and energetic well into his eighties and continued to conduct around the world after he retired as music director of the Chicago Symphony in 1991 (but he was named music director laureate by the orchestra).  Here he is in the concert hall in the second movement of Symphony No. 10.  You can tell he hasn’t had time to memorize the score by how much he needs to look down at it, but he still gets some high energy playing out the orchestra.

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