Chicago Symphony Orchestra reviews: A thunderous homecoming in all-Russian program

«The wintry Scherzo went with apt energy and bustle, Heras-Casado bringing balletic lift to the waltz-like trio theme. The conductor patiently charted the final movement, giving ample breathing room to the basses in the lugubrious opening bars, and ratcheting up each appearance of the insistent main theme to the triumphant coda.»

Chicago Classical Review

«The most impressive work emerged in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, “Winter Dreams,” a piece overshadowed by the composer’s later, towering symphonic achievements. But guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado conceived an interpretation that made about as strong a case for this disarming composition as one might imagine.

For starters, he set a brisk tempo in the opening movement, “Daydreams of a Winter Journey,” thereby making the most of Tchaikovsky’s youthful ardors. This reading was all about passionate themes fervently stated, the conductor wasting no time lingering over phrases that can seem effusive if overstated. Thanks to the driving force and urgency of Heras-Casado’s reading, the motifs of the first movement made coherent sense. Then, too, it was a pleasure to hear once again the deep resonance of the CSO, which sounded majestic but not overbearing in fortissimo passages.»

Chicago Tribune