Music fans might have been let down when they learned two weeks ago that Ricardo Muti, chief conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, fell ill and could not make it to the orchestra’s first visit to Seoul for its Super Concert on Wednesday and Thursday at the Seoul Arts Center.
But there is exhilarating news ― Maestro Lorin Maazel, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, is replacing Muti and will perform the quintessential Mozart, Brahms, Verdi and Mendelssohn. Maazel, who is arguably one of the highest paid musicians in the world, made the last-minute decision, rearranged all his commitments and joined the CSO’s Asian tour in Hong Kong last month. Seoul is the group’s last destination.
On Wednesday the American concertmaster seemed more than excited to be with the orchestra hailed as the “best U.S. orchestra” by Gramophone magazine in 2010. Maazel and the CSO have been working closely together for decades and the music group in 2000 premiered Maazel’s own composition, “Farewell,” to mark his 70th birthday.
|Maestro Lorin Maazel at a press conference at the Hyundai Card headquarters in Seoul on Wednesday. (Hyundai Card)|
“I haven’t conducted the orchestra for over a decade and I was wondering when I would be able to conduct the orchestra before I retire,” Maazel said at a press conference held at the Hyundai Card headquarters in Seoul on Wednesday.
“Little did I know that in two weeks I would be visiting this part of the world. It is a double pleasure to be with one of the world’s greatest ensembles and perform in cities that I have come to love and know well,” he added. Deborah Rutter, president of CSO, said that Maazel’s joining the team was more than a relief and that the orchestra members and the maestro are connecting well.
The 82-year-old conductor has been in Korea several times over four decades. He said he has seen Seoul grow, witnessed new buildings go up and a great classical music audience being formed. “We are also in great debt for artists being spawned here,” he said.
Maazel said he has a strong memory of Seoul. It was in 2008 when he was in Pyongyang with the New York Philharmonic and came straight here to play the same program. “It was that moment when we played the particular tune that everybody in the room knows ― ‘Arirang,’” he said with a smile.
Maazel’s performance of Mozart Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter” in C Major will be a new experience for the audience. The piece was added to the program at the last minute.
“This was the last symphony by Mozart. It is in major keys but the tone is very dark. It has the drive and passion ― what I call desperation. I think he knew he was coming to the end of his life. I do not know any other major piece that is so dark as Jupiter,” he said.
Maazel asked the audience to pay attention to the sound the Chicago Symphony Orchestra creates.
“CSO stands by its own ― its quality, history and reputation. It made a major contribution to the classical music for decades. It is a special experience for any conductor to lead it,” he said.
“It creates a cohesive sound ― flexible, rounded out and very warm. It has an integrity of its own. Desire of each musician to fuse different sounds pulls the interaction between different musical concepts. It enhances the capacity to perform overall,” he said.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com