At one moment during the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the Verdi Requiem on Thursday evening, conducted by Riccardo Muti and streamed live from Orchestra Hall in Chicago, viewers could see the rosin glistening on a bow during close-up shots of the violinists.The performance, honoring the bicentennial of Verdi’s birth, was the first concert the orchestra has streamed live on its Web site. It was also viewable on Facebook and other sites and beamed to an outdoor screen at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Mr. Muti, widely admired as a Verdi interpreter, made his debut as the orchestra’s music-director designate in 2009 with the Requiem. He has also impressed with his brilliant, incisive conducting of Verdi operas.
“The world of Verdi, it’s so complex,” he recently told The New York Times. “First you learn to sing his music, but the most important thing is you start to realize how a quaver, a chord, an accent can change the entire atmosphere.”
That commitment was immediately apparent in the Chicago Symphony’s performance, introduced by the bass Samuel Ramey and Deborah F. Rutter, the orchestra’s president. Watching at home on my computer, I couldn’t help comparing it with a Live in HD broadcast by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2011.
Filming orchestra musicians up close can be problematic, resulting in endless shots of wind players with puffed-out cheeks and string players sawing away. With the Los Angeles broadcast, the camera operators seemingly ran out of ideas, at times apparently finding cracks in the ceiling more interesting than the musicians. But the camera crew at Orchestra Hall found a better and more creative balance, capturing the flying bows during the Tuba Mirum and the fierce commitment in the face of the percussionist during the Dies Irae.
There were also plenty of moments to watch Mr. Muti, elegant and dignified as he guided the ensemble with crisp gestures. While some aspects of a performance — like balance and projection — are certainly difficult to assess on a computer and an ordinary sound system, this one proved a rewarding interpretation. Alluring dynamic contrasts and shadings rendered the performance exciting and moving by turns, with impeccable playing from the orchestra and exemplary singing by the Chicago Symphony Chorus.
The soloists — the soprano Tatiana Serjan, the mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona, the tenor Mario Zeffiri and the bass Ildar Abdrazakov — all sang expressively and with conviction. The cameras focused on Mr. Muti as the work concluded, his face calm and serene as the applause began.