Before you forget all about 2007, on the second to last day of the still current year, the weekly BP Chicago Symphony Orchestra radio broadcast will feature what IMHO was one of Daniel Barenboim's greatest musical achievements during his tenure as the CSO's music director: his take on Schubert's "Great" C major symphony (No.9, D944). A quick browse through the online catalogue of the CSO's Rosenthal Archives suggests that this broadcast will feature one of a string of subscription concert performances from October 2004. I did not hear those particular performances (though my parents did - and were so amazed they went in for a second helping the next evening). I did, however, hear it the following year, when the CSO took this work to Carnegie Hall. What Barenboim did with that symphony was just amazing. Schubert's last symphony, with its many repeats, can often seem endless rather than "great". But Barenboim managed to inject a certain playfulness and a few unexpected lilts that at once brought the piece to life and kept you at the edge of the seat from beginning to end. Instead of seeming tedious, you just wanted it to go on. It was another great reminder of the breadth of Barenboim's musicianship. Having played Schubert's solo piano music, his chamber music and having accompanied singers in Schubert's Lieder - and all of it at the highest level - Barenboim made the links between the "Great" C major symphony and the rest of Schubert's output immediately audible and apparent. The performance I heard at Carnegie was truly "one for the ages", as they say. All sections of the CSO played marvellously, from those amazing opening trombones to the virtuoso string playing in the last movement (Barenboim started that one off at quite a clip). Don't miss this broadcast!
In the Chicago area, this performance will be broadcast on WFMT on Sunday at 1pm. A complete list of US stations broadcasting the BP CSO broadcasts can be found here. Or listen streaming from the CSO's website anytime between December 31 and January 13.
UPDATE: The CSO was a bit tardy in putting up the link to the streaming webcast, but here it is now.