Eschenbach returns to Ravinia
Christoph Eschenbach | Photo by Eric Brissaud
Lake-Cook and Green Bay roads, Highland Park
Tickets can be ordered at www.ravinia.org or (847) 266-5100
Updated: July 4, 2012 4:46PM
Conductor Christoph Eschenbach served as music director of the Ravinia Festival from 1994 through 2003. During that time he enjoyed the admiration and affection of the summer audience for his leadership of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his many chamber music programs and recitals.
Eschenbach’s impact on the festival did not end with his exit after the 2003 season. When his resignation was announced, he expressed interest in returning to the festival as a guest conductor. And indeed he has, coming back six times in eight years.
This season, for the seventh time since 2003, he leads the CSO in two programs in the pavilion. He will conduct Brahms Concerto in A Minor for violin and cello with violinist Nicola Benedetti and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich, as well as the composer’s Symphony No. 4 iin E Minor at 7:30 p.m. Friday July 13.
His Chicago Symphony program at 7:30 p.m. Saturday July 14 includes Dvorak’s Carnival Overture and his Symphony No. 8 in G Major. Between the two pieces will be Korngold’s Violin Concert in D Major, with Erik Schumann as soloist.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold is known primarily as a highly successful film composer, part of the Golden Age of Hollywood film music. Because of that, some of his excellent orchestral music was eclipsed for a time.
“I love the Korngold concerto,” Eschenbach declared when queried by email while touring South America with the National Symphony Orchestra. “Since it has become more well known it has become one of the core repertoire pieces.
Eschenbach, who is an excellent pianist, has a great love for the vocal repertoire and at 8 p.m. Monday July 16 on the Martin Theatre, he will accompany a recital by baritone Matthias Goerne.
The program includes “The Harper’s Songs” by Schubert; Six Songs after poems by Gellert and “To the Distant Beloved” by Beethoven, and “Four Serious Songs” and eight additional songs, all by Brahms.
“Matthias Goerne is one of my favorite singers, the greatest lieder-baritone in the world,” stated the maestro, “and this program shows exactly where his strengths are.”
The dates of Eschenbach’s appearances and his programs are worked out by him and Ravinia’s president and CEO Welz Kauffman. “Mostly I make my suggestions of pieces and soloists,” he wrote, “and Welz Kauffman shares completely my tastes.”
“Christoph has a deep and emotional connection to the Ravinia audience, a rapport established years ago and that is brought alive each and every time he returns to Ravinia,” Kauffman stated. “We all love that he brings us great repertoire as well as soloists we might otherwise not know and whom we consistently enjoy.
“And it goes without saying that as one of the great pianists of the century, having him play the piano in the Martin Theatre is always a joy. This season, in his recital with Mathias Goerne, we are in for an especially wonderful evening as both artists were associated with the late, great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. No doubt both performers and their audience will feel the spirit of that greatest of Lieder singers throughout Ravinia Park as they bring us some of the great Germanic song literature.”
Kauffman urges us never to take the Eschenbach’s appearances for granted, adding “As Christoph’s relationship with the National Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic and other great orchestras and opera house throughout the world continues to grow, just getting him to come to Ravinia at all is a triumph in and of itself!”
For Eschenbach himself, the pull is strong.
When asked what is is that draws him back year after year, he replied. “The enormous quality and human gentleness of the CSO and the unique place called Ravinia.”