Magnificent Bruckner by Graf, Grant Park Orchestra Warms a Chilly Night

July 09, 2009

Graf made no concessions to the challenges of al fresco music-making, drawing uncommonly detailed and nuanced playing from the Grant Park musicians in a refined, powerful performance that provided one of the finest events of the summer.

Chicago’s lakefront has much visual splendor to offer but mountains are not among them—at least, the non-steel-and-glass variety.

Under the direction of Hans Graf, however, Millennium Park was effectively transformed into the Austrian Alps Wednesday, as the conductor led the Grant Park Orchestra in a magnificent performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, bringing a warm glow to a cold and drizzly night.

Bruckner is not exactly your standard light summer fare, but the Grant Park Music Festival has never been content to rely on the repertoire’s greatest hits, one of its most attractive qualities.

Once tagged with the title “Romantic”—redundant, since the same adjective can be applied to all of Bruckner’s music—the Fourth is the most concise and user-friendly of the composer’s vast symphonic canvases, yet richly characteristic in its evocation of the mountains Bruckner loved and his spacious spiritual contemplation. Read the full article at

Lawrence Johnson, Chicago Classical Review.