by Eugene Izotov, Principal Oboe, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
CSO broadcast, Sundays at 1:00 PM
Maestro Muti wanted to work on the Martinů with me and the pianist (Mary Sauer) prior to the rehearsals with the full orchestra. Actually, he invited me to have lunch with him; that’s when our conversation about Martinů began. Maestro Muti had just arrived from Italy the day or two before—no matter, he greeted me with his expressive “ciao!” with fire in his eyes, and immediately said: “This sounds like Il Trovatore!”
I said, “Which part?”
Maestro Muti said, “the opening!”
We both laughed and had a wonderful conversation during lunch; there’s not a moment with Muti that isn’t filled with color, fire, and passion. From the beginning of our private rehearsal afterwards I felt that Maestro Muti was sensitive to my every breath while giving the music structure and direction that it needed. It really is amazing how he is able to create the combination of total control and absolute freedom. There were moments when he sat at the piano and played through some of the chord changes to bring out the counterpoint to make the dialog between the oboe and the orchestra more effective. It was a remarkable experience. When the rehearsal was over, Maestro Muti asked me if we should have a glass of wine. I said, “Maestro, I would love to, but first Martinu, then Martini!”
Editor’s note: Eugene Izotov will be the soloist in the Oboe Concerto by Bohuslav Martinů on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra radio broadcast, Sunday at 1:00 PM.
More on Izotov, the Martinů Concerto, and his early career with conductor Bill McGlaughlin.