CBSO, Andris Nelsons, Richard Strauss CD

Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

to be released 11th January 2010, though some copies available from THe SHop at Symphony Hall, now!

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”After hearing this extraordinary account of the Rosenkavalier Suite I literally had to stop for breath after so much visceral, almost physical excitement, about which more anon. So be advised.   …

In this performance Nelsons and the CBSO give us a roller coaster ride through a kaleidoscope of emotions where hedonism, regret and reflection all combine in an irresistible creamy concoction.

And, forgive the imagery, that is where we begin, with a prelude in which orgasmic horns, foaming, quivering woodwind, and strings wedging inwards towards each other depict the final ecstasies of the gracious Marschallin and her young lover Octavian.  …


…. And it is her complex character that the solo violin has to represent, and Jackson does this with virtuosity, brightness of articulation, and a remarkable sweetness and depth of tone.

The opening of Ein Heldenleben is notoriously difficult to bring off, with its unison strings needing to phrase and breathe as one. Nelsons achieves this magnificently….. and proceeds to unfold the music’s picaresque paragraphs with a firm strength of vision and grasp. “…

Review by Geoff Brown, The Times:

“Still, those clapping hands were deserved, for this account of Strauss’s orchestral epic, edited from two Birmingham concerts last June, stands as one of the most sumptuous and refined ever put on to disc.  …

… Subtle it isn’t, but the conviction of Nelson’s troops is overwhelming enough to bring sweat to your brow. The whooping horns at the start rival any sound from the orchestral aristocrats of Berlin or Vienna. The CBSO is just as impressive in delicate mode. …

…This level of achievement can come only when orchestra and conductor feel the work as one and are in the grip of genuine excitement, not duty.”

Review by Geoffrey Norris, Telegraph:

“These stirring performances come from concerts in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall and testify to the rapport the Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons has established with the CBSO. Passion, glowing sonority and sophisticated texture are embodied in the playing of the suite from Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. The dramatic denouements exude exhilarating energy, with wonderfully whooping horns at the start and a real feel for theatrical thrust after. The orchestral timbres in Strauss’s more delicately scored passages are delineated with a sharp ear, blending or emerging in polished, shapely soloistic fashion.”…

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

…”I’ve certainly been missing something: these performances of Ein Heldenleben and the Rosenkavalier Suite, taken from concerts in Symphony Hall, Birmingham last year, stand comparison with almost any versions already in the catalogue. The sound is wonderfully clear and detailed and the playing sumptuous, and Nelsons quite obviously revels in the sentimental excesses of both works.” …

Review by Hugo Shirley,

…”It’s the sheer quality of the playing that makes the greatest impression in the first, the Rosenkavalier Suite, captured in wonderfully clear and airy sound. Nelsons admits in a booklet interview that he is yet to conduct the opera in the theatre and this is apparent in his approach to the suite, which is performed as an unashamed show-piece.  …

…The contributions of Laurence Jackson on solo violin are outstanding, too, and he makes light of the role’s technical difficulties to give an unusually tender and sympathetic account of the ‘hero’s companion’. ” …

Buy online:

Biss Plays Mozart

Wednesday 16 December 2009 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

Robert Spano  conductor
Jonathan Biss  piano

Tiensuu: False Memories (UK premiere) 16′
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9, K271 31′
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 42′ Listen
requires Real Player

This young American pianist has already built a formidable reputation for his accounts of classical and early romantic music; here he plays what Brendel calls ‘one of the greatest wonders of the world’, a miraculous product of the 21-year old Mozart. Sibelius’s sweeping, passionate symphony has long been a Birmingham favourite, and Spano also introduces a work by one of the finest of the current amazing generation of Finnish composers.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

“..It works in short-breathed bursts of energy, with a central movement of slithery hypnosis, and the CBSO players responded with gutsy fire under the persuasive baton of Roberto Spano.” …

Review by Hilary Finch, The Times:

…”After a fierce and jazzy opening called, alluringly, Review, Tiensuu creates two even more disturbing movements. Nostalgy seems to conjure the nostalgia of a chill winter fog for the heat haze of summer. Piercingly high resonances of bowed cymbals, crotales and vibraphone fuse with frozen chords and the microtones of slippery, sliding string parts, frequently played out of phase. Trauma teases ear and nerves still further, with its trilling flutes, trembling strings and gong — and, again, with an unsettling yet seductive feeling of something recalled, but just out of reach, lapsed in time.” …

Symphonic Dances II

Thursday 10 December 2009 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

Kristjan Järvi  conductor
Tim Garland  saxophone
Eduardo Vassallo  cello

Ginastera: Estancia 14′
Garland: Double Concerto (world premiere) 25′
Bernstein: West Side Story: Symphonic Dances 24′
Ravel: Daphnis and Chloé – Suite No. 2 18′

Dynamic conductor Kristjan Järvi brings his love of jazz and classical music together in a highly charged programme that’s intoxicated by dance rhythms. Ravel’s sensual ballet and Bernstein’s New York teen take on Romeo and Juliet are both classics of the repertoire. Ginastera’s earthy ballet is also a riot of Argentine colour, and provides an appropriate prelude to Acoustic Triangle member and leading jazz composer Tim Garland’s new concerto, composed for him and the CBSO’s cello section leader, and paying tribute to the dance rhythms of the latter’s native Argentina.

Encore – Ginastra

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

“…But those who stayed away from Thursday’s CBSO concert missed a wonderful display of exuberance and orchestral virtuosity under the kinetic baton of Kristjan Jarvi,  …   Riches came with the Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story, awash with colour, zestful in delivery, and oozing with every kind of emotion.   …”

Review by Geoff Brown, Times:

“…Järvi’s jiggling baton spurred fire and precision. Fingers clicked; the players shouted “Mambo!” Best of the best was Ravel’s second Daphnis et Chloé suite, which proceeded from daybreak to paroxysm with the atmospheric lustre and bloom of an orchestra happy on its home turf.”

Haydn 200 : The Creation

Thursday 3 December 2009 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Ailish Tynan  soprano
Toby Spence  tenor
Vuyani Mlinde  bass
CBSO Chorus  

Haydn: The Creation (sung in English) 109′

“When I think of God, I can’t help writing cheerful music,” admitted Joseph Haydn. So it’s no wonder that his great oratorio The Creation is one of the freshest, happiest and most unstuffy pieces of religious music ever written. Fizzy operatic arias, blockbuster choruses and a visionary musical depiction of the birth of the Universe itself – they’re all part of Haydn’s shamelessly tuneful version of the Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve even get their own love-duet! There’s no more enjoyable way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Haydn’s death – and to hear the CBSO’s magnificent chorus in full, resplendent

Tonight’s concert is supported by the Tolkien Trust.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

“…The result is irresistible in the right hands, and Nelsons’ were certainly those.

In addition to the sprightly orchestral playing (Peter Hill’s timpani looked modern but sounded so authentic) and vivid choral contributions, the continuo-playing of fortepianist Alistair Young and cellist Ulrich Heinen was alert and deliciously seasoned. …”