Barenboim plays Beethoven

Staatskapelle Berlin
Daniel Barenboim conductor/piano

Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht 20’
Beethoven Piano Concerto No 5, Emperor 38’

Encore Chopin Nocturne

Few names are more prestigious in music today than that of Daniel Barenboim. A musical colossus and legend in his own lifetime, he is one of the world’s leading pianists and conductors, with barely a corner of musical life that he has not touched in some way. Steeped in Beethoven’s music – arguably its greatest living exponent -Barenboim’s performance of the Emperor Concerto with the Berlin Staatskapelle is eagerly anticipated.

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

…”More than that it was a triumph, both for Barenboim himself and the remarkable Staatskapelle Berlin he has directed since 1992.

Few string works are more emotionally draining than Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and as the electrifying opener it seethed wonderfully with transparent multipart textures and solo lines that erupted from the musical cauldron of expressionistic brooding.”  …

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb:

…”The first half featured Verklärte Nacht, an early string sextet from Schoenberg, heard here in the later full string version. We saw a mature and relaxed Barenboim, in complete control of the massed forces of the Staatskapelle; there were few histrionics from their Chief Conductor for Life. He’s long had the Tee shirt. Barenboim, prising out some amazing effects I had not experienced before in this piece, vividly recreated the Richard Dehmel text on which the composition is based. The stark opening phrases portrayed Dehmel’s ‘walk through a bare, cold grove’, and reminded me of my own chilly January promenade from train station to auditorium foyer.  …

… Much as the Schoenberg piece was appreciated, it was the second half that the Midlands had come to see and hear – the well-loved Piano Concerto No 5 in Eb Major by Beethoven. All high expectations were fulfilled. No doubt Barenboim has played the Emperor countless times, and many with the Staatskapelle Berlin (catch them together on a DVD live performance) but he made it sound as fresh and vibrant as perhaps he has ever done. The nobility and power of Beethoven were immediately conveyed in the opening Allegro.” …

Review by James Cartledge, Birmingham Mail:

…”The highlight of the evening was, though, without doubt Barenboim at the keyboard for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5, better known as The Emperor.

It was incredible to watch the energetic Barenboim as he combined playing with conducting. ” …

An Alpine Symphony

Thursday 28 January 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Martin Helmchen  piano

Mozart: Symphony No. 33 19′
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor K491 31′
Strauss: An Alpine Symphony 51′

Richard Strauss once boasted that he could depict a knife and fork in music – so when he sets out to paint the Alps themselves, you’d expect the results to be spectacular! His Alpine Symphony is a vast, sun-drenched musical panorama – with everything from a trickling mountain stream to a mighty glacier, painted in music of dazzling colour and breathtaking power. Hear why Andris Nelsons has such a passion for this extraordinary score. Mozart was Strauss’s favourite composer, so his spirited 33rd Symphony and 24th Piano Concerto make the perfect musical hors d’oeuvre.

Oh what a journey in the Alpine Symphony- lush and wonderful! 🙂

Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

Andris Nelsons’s dynamic ­performances of Richard Strauss with the City of ­Birmingham Symphony Orchestra have been one of the strongest indicators of his exceptional gifts as a conductor. The latest Strauss score to get the ­Nelsons treatment is An Alpine Symphony, ­colossal in scale – for at least 125 players – yet intricate in detail. A CD recorded live from this concert will doubtless confirm, if not quite replicate, the thrill of hearing this orchestra in full musical flood.

With Nelsons, it’s never a case of throwing caution to the wind – even with a wind-machine in the ­percussion section to whip up the ­fearsome storm. Nelsons controls everything ­precisely. His instinct for sculpting the phrases with exactly the right ­emotional weight, while still driving the music forward is what holds your attention.  …

…The rich expanse of sound in On the ­Summit was ­luxuriant; this was the CBSO on peak form, but the dark ­colours of night ­dissolving together had a ­quality of mystery, and ultimately realised ­something even more profound. ” …..

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

…”They bowed, plucked, blew, banged and rattled – on everything from Wagner tubas to a hecklephone and wind-machine – as if their lives depended on it.

With Andris Nelsons as our guide it was as if we had trekked up and down the alpine peak ourselves. He ensured we lived every minute of the journey.

Here was a sunrise that made you squint; a thunderstorm which stirred the hair and a shower where the raindrops were almost palpable.” …


Review by David Nice, The Arts Desk:

…”The mountain’s night profile on lower brass was swathed in mystery, and the feathery glooms as this masterpiece of one-movement construction begins to run widdershins from its optimistic high noon made the flesh creep. Strauss once thought of calling them “dreams and ghosts (after Goya)”; so much for a mere change in the weather. The dying of the mountaineers’ music at the end – which I’ve always thought of, fancifully perhaps, as a kind of war requiem to the nature-loving youth of Europe, dead in their thousands by the time Strauss completed the work in 1915 – brought the expected long silence from a rapt full house,”  …

Elgar’s Enigma

Wednesday 20 January 2010 at 7.30pm

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

 Edward Gardner  conductor
Alison Balsom  trumpet
Christopher Yates  viola

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis 15′ Listen
requires Real Player
MacMillan: Epiclesis 25′
Britten: Lachrymae 15′
Elgar: Enigma Variations 29′

To begin our series featuring the amazing musical decade leading up to the CBSO’s birth in 1920, we have one of the jewels of English music – Vaughan Williams’ luminous Tallis Fantasia, premiered in 1910. Britten’s late work for viola and strings also draws on older English music, while James Macmillan’s striking trumpet concerto is a prayer inspired by the composer’s Christian faith. This concert of deeply personal British music ends with Elgar’s brilliant tribute to his friends.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

 Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

“Gardner prefaced the Vaughan Williams with a brass arrangement of Tallis’s original theme, and did as much as he could to enhance the work’s ­in-built spatial effects by ­placing the second string orchestra off stage and increasing Symphony Hall’s ­reverberation as much as he dared.” …

CBSO January Sale

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s ticket sale begins tomorrow -16th Jnauary 2010 and runs until 24th January 2010, during which you can get 25% off ticket prices. Bargain! 🙂

And lots of great concerts to come, so get booking:

Brahms and Sibelius

Thursday 14 January 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Vassily Sinaisky  conductor
Laurence Jackson  violin
Ulrich Heinen  cello

Brahms: Academic Festival Overture 10′
Brahms: Double Concerto 31′
Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela 10′
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 31′ Listen
requires Real Player

Lots of composers have been given honorary degrees – but only Johannes Brahms responded by writing an overture full of student drinking songs! His Academic Festival Overture is a hilarious one-in-the-eye for those who think of Brahms as stuffy – and so’s his gorgeous, deeply romantic Double Concerto. And then, conductor Vassily Sinaisky tackles two real CBSO trademarks. The Swan of Tuonela is a darkly beautiful meditation on mortality; the mighty Fifth Symphony, meanwhile is one of 20th century’s most dynamic and life-affirming masterpieces – with a finale that will stay with you forever.

Review by Christoper Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”This was a reading of the utmost empathy, unforced and subtle, with Heinen bringing a Bachian inwardness to Brahms’ cello writing, Jackson a sweet purity which must surely have come from the spirit of Joseph Joachim, the great violinist to whom the piece was a peace-offering after a huge rift between Brahms and this man who was one of his greatest advocates.
Vassily Sinaisky conducted an attentive and willing CBSO, preceding the Concerto with a deliciously understated, ultimately assertive Brahms Academic Festival Overture. “…

New Year from Vienna

Saturday 9 January 2010 at 7.00pm

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

Barry Wordsworth  conductor
Elizabeth Atherton  soprano

Strauss: Die Fledermaus – Overture & Czardas • Tritsch-Tratsch Polka • Perpetuum mobile • Champagne Polka • Emperor Waltz • Egyptian March • Voices of Spring • Cuckoo Polka • Pizzicato-Polka • Thunder and
Lightning Polka • The Blue Danube

Lehár: Gold & Silver Waltz • The Merry Widow – Vilja Song

Suppé: Overture, Morning, Noon & Night in Vienna

Kalman: Gräfin Mariza – Czardas

Tap your toes into 2010 with the CBSO’s effervescent New Year celebrations in traditional Viennese style, featuring much-loved waltzes, arias and polkas. A concert to put a smile on your face and tunes in your heart!

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

…”Other highlights among the succession of familiar waltzes and polkas – and a couple of overtures, including a dramatically charged Morning, Noon and Night of Suppé – were a beautifully paced and deliciously crafted Emperor Waltz (arguably the greatest of them all), and an extremely tight Pizzicato Polka.” …

Symphony Hall needs your vote!

Symphony Hall, Birmingham’s internationally renowned concert hall, has been announced as a nominee for the Best Arts & Entertainment Venue Award in this year’s Best of Broad Street Awards, after winning the category in 2009 – as voted by the public.

The Best of Broad Street Awards [BOBS], supported by the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, honour the achievements and contributions of the many bars, venues and restaurants west of the city centre through 23 award categories.

To vote for Symphony Hall, simply email with BOBS POST as the subject name and Symphony Hall in the body of the email.

The closing date for votes is Tuesday 12 January 2010.

Thank you for your support!