May 14, 2019
by Howard Reich
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recently ended seven-week strike meant that the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, too, fell silent during that time.
Sunday evening’s performance in Orchestra Hall brought the young musicians back into the spotlight, and they seized it, opening with the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s “Meander, Spiral, Explode” for percussion quartet and orchestra.
Third Coast Percussion collaborated animatedly with the orchestra in the gripping work, its three movements unfolding without pause. Though subtlety was not this composition’s strong point, there was no resisting Third Coast Percussion’s telegraphic opening statements, which pulsed over a relentless orchestral crescendo. The hypnotic incantations of the second movement eventually gave way to a propulsive finale, Third Coast Percussion’s speed demons giving listeners a great deal to marvel at.
The program, sensitively conducted by Ken-David Masur, also included a solid performance of Debussy’s technically challenging “La Mer” and an emotionally open, youthful account of Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 (“Spring”).