My Favorite CSO: Oto Carrillo

Oto Carrillo warms up backstage at Orchestra Hall on November 29, 2018.

© Todd Rosenberg Photography

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s commercial recording legacy began on May 1, 1916, when second music director Frederick Stock led the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Columbia Graphophone Company. The Orchestra has since amassed an extraordinary, award-winning discography on a number of labels—including Angel, CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, London/Decca, RCA, Sony, Teldec, Victor, and others—continuing with releases on the in-house label CSO Resound under tenth music director Riccardo Muti. For My Favorite CSO, we asked members of the Chicago Symphony family for their favorite recordings (and a few honorable mentions) from the Orchestra’s discography.

A native of Guatemala, Oto Carrillo was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section by ninth music director Daniel Barenboim in 2000. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance from DePaul University and master’s degrees in music performance and musicology from Northwestern University. Upon graduation, Carrillo won positions with the Memphis and Cedar Rapids orchestras and continued playing for two seasons as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He has performed with the National Repertory Orchestra, National Orchestral Institute, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, along with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and on the MusicNOW series. Carrillo is on faculty at DePaul University and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific, a summer training program in British Columbia.

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1971 for Angel
Carlo Maria Giulini conductor
1971 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance
“There is a lot of history with this recording. I first mentioned my connection with this CD when I interviewed for my musician profile in the program book in 2000, upon gaining entry to the CSO. In the interview and printed on the portrait, I recounted how this recording—actually a cassette recording of the CD—was in my mom’s car and how I would listen to it as I drove back and forth from my high school job as a busboy. My parents played a lot of classical music at home, but this is the recording that started ‘it’ for me: that is, awakening to the art form on my own. I still find this to be the gold standard of recording, interpretation and playing. This recording is the gem that I desperately hunted in every used record store, eventually settling for an LP and then a CD recording of my parents' CD when I was unable to track it down.”

WAGNER Selections from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Götterdämmerung
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1959 for RCA
Fritz Reiner conductor
“This was a CD my horn professor in college let me borrow, which I eventually assimilated (not too proudly) into my growing classical music collection. It is still a marvel to listen to. The sonic quality of this 1959 recording is amazing as is the playing of the Orchestra.”

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major
Recorded in Medinah Temple in 1979 for London
Sir Georg Solti conductor
1980 Grammy Award for Best Classical Orchestral Recording
“For a while, this is another CD that eluded me. My parents had an LP of this symphony by another orchestra which introduced me to the mighty music of Bruckner. When I heard our hometown orchestra’s recording from our local library’s collection, I was floored. It blew away my parents’ record. I was able to collect all of the Solti/CSO Bruckner recordings on CD one by one with the exception of the Sixth Symphony. which I bought on LP (I believe that, once again, the CD was out of print). Finally, after my rabid CD buying days were over and I had joined the Orchestra, I walked one day into our Symphony Store to see that the box set had come out. I bought it just to get this symphony even though I already owned all the other ones. I donated the individual CDs of the now-duplicate recordings to my public library.”

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 10, and Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 (Leningrad)
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 1988 for Deutsche Grammophon
Leonard Bernstein conductor
1990 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance
“This is the only commercial recording that Bernstein did with the CSO, and I remember the live concert the recording was taken from as it happened during my classical-music-awakening period in high school. I didn’t acquire the recording until later in college, but I think it is a prize among all the CSO recordings. Sadly, I don’t recall much of the live event as I was still inducting myself into such a new world. I do remember the old stage of Orchestra Hall and how the extra brass players were seated up on the old chorus risers.”

SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47
Recorded in Orchestra Hall in 2006 for CSO Resound
Myung-Whun Chung conductor
“All of the CSO Resound releases have been recorded during my tenure with the Orchestra, and the one that is still prominent in my mind is Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, which was never released as a CD but only as a download when that platform was in its infancy. The conductor was Myung-Whun Chung, and I remember the intensity he brought in rehearsals to this very standard work and CSO hallmark. I was particularly impressed with the ease in which one could hear all the sections of the Orchestra.”

A few honorable mentions:

  • BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major with Sir Georg Solti for London (1977)
  • VERDI Four Sacred Pieces with Sir Georg Solti for London (1977-78)
  • WAGNER Overtures and Preludes, Vol. 1 (Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Tristan and Isolde) with Daniel Barenboim for Teldec (1994)


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