There are only two pieces on the program this Saturday and Sunday at the symphony, and even though they were written less than 60 years apart, the contrast between them is so stark that they might as well be from different worlds.
This weekend Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony are offering a pair of symphonies which, while originating in vastly different musical and cultural worlds, still have their roots in a love of nature and the sense of renewal that comes with spring.
A warmly expansive and well-played Mahler “Symphony No. 3” this weekend by David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony was enhanced by fine solo work and the voices of the St. Louis Children's Chorus and the Women of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. This is music you don't hear that often because of the size and disposition of the forces, so the decision to present it was a welcome one, to say the least.
In the program notes for the world premiere of his “Stumble to Grace” for piano and orchestra, composer Steven Mackey credits the inspiration for the work to watching his toddler son learn to walk, moving from “experimenting with perambulation” to, a year later, showing “a confident lilt in his step”. “I wanted to open my compositional process”, he writes, "to incorporate some of the whimsy and exuberance that he brings to his exploration of the world.”