Presented by CAMA. At the Granada Theatre, Sat., Oct. 21
CAMA opened its 99th season with the much-anticipated return of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Santa Barbara after a 30-year absence with a positively divine performance. The conservative program included Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished,” conducted by the masterful Riccardo Muti, who moved with fluidity and managed to make Schubert’s iconic masterwork something entirely his own. To hear such a frequently circulated piece with freshness and vitality —from the romantic and lush opening measures to the more sedate counterparts — is a rare opportunity. Principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson played Mozart’s cherubic Clarinet Concerto in A Major with delicacy and remarkable stamina, led by Muti’s gestures, as he bent the orchestra to his will yet showed great sensitivity.
However, it was the final piece, Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C Major, that verified the Chicago Symphony’s reputation as one of the greater orchestras. With every second meticulously planned by Muti, even the silence between movements, the maestro and the orchestra moved together in complete symbiosis and left Santa Barbara eager for a not-so-distant return.