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CSO, Riccardo Muti kick off East Coast tour with Kennedy Center splash

Music Director Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the first of two concerts at Carnegie Hall on February 9,2018. | Todd Rosenberg Photography

Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra marked their 350th concert together, with a performance in Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center Wednesday night at the onset of their East Coast winter tour.

With dignitaries in the audience including the Italian ambassador to the U.S. Armando Varricchio, it was a celebratory affair capped by the single big work Muti and company have most often performed together — Brahms Symphony No. 2 — which sounded brilliant in the chandeliered, shoe-box shaped Concert Hall. It was one of those nights when the mood would actually have been broken by performing an encore. The maestro left the crowd applauding, on their feet, and happy.

The orchestra headed to New York Friday for the first of two concerts at Carnegie Hall, which featured the reprise of a highly unusual concerto for the four largest brass instruments in the orchestra — Jennifer Higdon’s new Low Brass Concerto. It had received its world premiere in Chicago in early February.

Saturday night’s final Carnegie Hall concert, which showcases the Brahms Second once again, will be reviewed here Sunday.

Maestro Riccardo Muti acknowledges the CSO’s low brass section Jay Friedman, Michael Mulcahy, Charles Vernon and Gene Pokorny following the New York premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Low Brass Concerto at Carnegie Hall. | Todd Rosenberg Photography