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Uchida and the CSO under Salonen is astonishing in Bartok Piano Concerto No. 3 / WTTW: Chicago Tonight

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Here is the formula for an astonishing evening of music: 

Take Bela Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3 – a rhythmically stunning, demonically difficult modern work dating from 1945 (and completed just four days before the composer's death) – and put it in the astonishing hands of pianist Mitsuko Uchida, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. Then, frame this volcanic performance with two very different but complementary works – Brahms' "Variations on a Theme by Haydn" and Arnold Schoenberg's truly transformative "Verklarte Nacht" ("Transfigured Night").

Finally, program all this at the end of Salonen's two-week residency as guest conductor of the CSO – a visit that began with a riveting performance of Mahler's massive Symphony No. 9, a work that ideally reverberates with the Schoenberg piece. Quite the musical odyssey.

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