Hello world!

First day of the 2009/10 CBSO Concert Season…

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Arcadi Volodos  piano

Wagner: The Mastersingers – Prelude 9′
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 44′
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 36′

Andris Nelsons launches the season in grand style! Beginning with the majestic prelude to Wagner’s sunniest opera, and finishing with the most famous symphony ever written, this is a concert to set pulses racing – and if you only know the first four notes of Beethoven’s perfect Fifth Symphony, trust us: you’re in for a wonderful surprise! Brahms’ dreamy Second Piano Concerto will be an oasis of calm at the evening’s heart – though with the superb young Russian virtuoso Arcadi Volodos at the keyboard, there’ll be no shortage of thrills either.


It was great to be back at Symphony Hall, and wonderful to have an almost completely full house – gives a real buzz to the place.

Wagner’s The Mastersingers was a good opener for a concert, with its lively, loud nature. Clearly Andris Nelsons relishes this composer’s music, it was a treat to see the sheer glee on his face as he danced through the slightly crazy counterpoint within this prelude.

I had never heard of Arcadi Volodos, who was the soloist in Brahms Piano Concerto No 2; though given his many credentials in the programme it made it sound as though perhaps I should have! Still I’m not a musician, so it’s not my “world”. He was born in Leningrad, Russia on 24th February, 1972, and has been called a “modern day Horowitz”. Whilst there was absolutely no doubting his technical abilities, I found his performance on this occasion to be lacking in subtlety, and it felt as though he was in competition with the orchestra rather than it being a beautiful, musical collaboration. He sure hammers on those keys! The highlight of this piece for me was the lush emotional playing of Eduardo Vassallo in the cello solos, and the whole orchestra played well.

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony probably has one of the most famous openings of all classical music, so much so the anticipation in the audience was almost palpable. I wonder if that makes the conductor nervous? I loved this performance, Andris always (so far) seems able to bring out new depths and sparkle to even old, familiar pieces, and he did so with perfect style here. Left my soul well polished and replenished for sure.

We (CG and I) had a really fun chap sat nearby, he was so passionate about the music it was an absolute joy. He loves the cymbals and every time they were played in The Mastersingers he clapped his hand to his forehead or over his mouth as though he may faint from the wonder of it all. He turned to us at the end of the Brahms and said, “Did you see? That cello bloke made me cry!” and then was great at cheering out “Bravo! Bravo!” at the end of the Beethoven. Marvellous to have some open-hearted passion there. 


Can’t wait for their next concert. I’m so lucky to be able to go, though saving up can be hard it’s worth every penny and then some!