More than any other of the numerous area Shostakovich centennial events, James Conlon’s mini-Shostakovich cycle of his last three symphonies has shed more light on the composer than any of the other isolated attempts has with a mere performance of a work here and there. It makes you wonder what an entire CSO Shostakovich cycle of all fifteen symphonies might have revealed, particularly with Conlon at the helm. But whereas Symphony No. 14 and 13 were both dark and macabre death-related pieces, Symphony No. 15, Shostakovich’s last, is often called his “happy” symphony because of its bizarre use of quotes from other pieces, especially Rossini’s “William Tell,” which has the unfortunate distraction of forever being associated with “The Lone Ranger” in American culture, and Wagner’s “fate” motif from the “Ring.” What these mean is anyone’s guess and a subject rife with speculation, but it should be very interesting to get Conlon’s musical take on all of this. As with the previous symphonies, a more well-known Russian masterpiece is accompanying the piece, in this case the popular warhorse, the colorful Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony. (Dennis Polkow)
July 28 at Ravinia Festival, Lake-Cook and Green Bay Rds., Highland Park, (847)266-5100. 8pm. $10-$45.