Chopin 200

Thursday 25 February 2010 at 2.15pm

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

Andrew Litton  conductor
William Wolfram  piano

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet 21′
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 30′
Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 4 34′

Next week the musical world celebrates the 200th birthday of its favourite composer of piano music, and the CBSO gets in early with performances of his dazzling and lyrical second concerto, played by a leading American pianist. This is gloriously romantic music, and Tchaikovsky’s famous Shakespearean overture is even more so. Regular guest conductor Andrew Litton is renowned for his commitment to English music, and here he conducts Vaughan Williams’ most dramatic symphony.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”William Wolfram (a name new to me, but one for which I shall watch out from now on), delivered a scintillating account of the intricate solo writing, effusive decorations fluently assimilated into a poetically-phrased, fluent singing line, richly chorded where appropriate and subtly pedalled.

And Vaughan Williams’ Symphony no.4 was searing and passionate, taking no prisoners, in Litton’s reading with this pliant orchestra. Textures and timbres were consummately layered, instrumental solos (not least the flute on what I was told was a substitute instrument) were engaging, and the drama unfolded with relentless timing. “

A Soirée with the Labéques

Thursday 18 February 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Gilbert Varga  conductor
Katia & Marielle Labèque  pianos

Berlioz: Overture – Le Corsaire 9′
Debussy: En blanc et noir 16′
Poulenc: Concerto for two pianos 20′
Ravel: Mother Goose Suite 18′
Ravel: Boléro 14′

It’s a real pleasure to welcome back to Birmingham the amazing Labèque sisters, for one of the most sparkling of all French pieces, Poulenc’s delightful double concerto. They also bring their uniquely gallic flair to Debussy’s masterpiece for two pianos and Ravel’s sumptuous Spanish fantasy brings the evening to an exuberant finish.

We are sorry to announce that Lionel Bringuier has been obliged to withdraw from tonight’s concert as he has had a fall and injured his arm. We are very grateful to Gilbert Varga who replaces him at short notice. This replacement has led to a change in the advertised programme, which is now as listed above.

Friday Night Classics: Film Music for Lovers

Friday 12 February 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Michael Seal  conductor
Tommy Pearson  presenter
David Arnold  special guest
Ben Dawson  piano

Steiner – Gone with the Wind: Tara’s Theme
Herrmann – Vertigo: Main Title & Love Theme
Barry – Out of Africa – Main theme
Rota – Romeo & Juliet – A Time for Us
Lai – Theme from Love Story
Addinsell – Warsaw Concerto
Arnold – Independence Day: Closing Titles
Doyle – Much Ado About Nothing – overture
Warbeck – Shakespeare in Love – suite
Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto no. 2 – slow movement
Arnold – Casino Royale: Love theme and Bond theme (arr. Arnold)
Horner – Titanic
Armstrong – Love Actually – Glasgow Love Theme
Jarre – Dr Zhivago: Lara’s Theme
Williams – ET: Adventures on Earth

The perfect treat for your Valentine, or simply the chance to snuggle up with the CBSO and enjoy a night of romantic music from some of the most heart-rending moments from the big screen. Featuring soundtracks by Arnold, Barry, Herrmann and others, this evening surely won’t leave a dry eye in the house. Chocolates and hankies not supplied!

Post-concert talk, c.9.45pm
Music from the Movies – Tommy Pearson interviews James Bond (and Little Britain) composer David Arnold.

Russian Masters

Saturday 6 February 2010 at 7.00pm

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

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Baiba Skride  violin

Liadov: Kikimora 7′
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1 36′
Stravinsky: The Firebird 44′

Stravinsky’s The Firebird is one of the most popular of all ballet scores, conjuring a sumptuous fairy-tale world of glittering colours, enchanted melodies and blood-curdling thrills. It’s already become something of a signature-work for Andris Nelsons, so if you haven’t yet heard his interpretation, prepare to be astonished – and to be delightfully surprised by Liadov’s Kikimora, another Russian fairytale from the man who was originally supposed to write The Firebird. We welcome back the superb young Latvian violinist Baiba Skride, as soloist in Shostakovich’s powerful First Concerto.

Utterly brilliant evening, fantastic, mesmerising playing from Baiba Skride and The Firebird was done beautifully by the CBSO.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”On Saturday it was the turn of another Russian concerto, dark and bitter, the Shostakovich no.1. Suppressed and sombre, then bursting into manic activity, it demands from Skride huge efforts of sustained concentration and superhuman physical energy, and she supplied both in abundance.

Her command of line was well sustained, and her virtuosity spectacular – but always at the service of this tremendous score. And her empathy with her old school-chum Nelsons and his wonderful band was effortless.”  …

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb:

…”Many however remain loyal to a particular work and Shostakovich’s 1st attracts considerable support. This rendition from Baiba Skride, Nelsons and the CBSO was ravishing in every sense. Dedicated to David Oistrakh, it impressed upon him at the time ‘absolute symphonic thinking’. In this performance on Feb 6th 2010, the four movements were indeed inextricably bound together. I used to think the opening Nocturne went on a bit, but such was the intensity of Skride’s soliloquy that the feeling of restless contemplation she created wasn’t a bar too long. ” ….

Review by Anna Picard, Independent:

…”Scintillation is relatively easy for an orchestra as confident and well-blended as the CBSO and a gifted, energetic young conductor. More impressive was the sense of chronic sickness and creeping despair in the veiled opening of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto and the expertly metred, gradual intensifying of tone. Soloist Baiba Skride and the orchestra moved as one from the grotesque brilliance of the Scherzo to the pallid sorrow of the Passacaglia. Both this and the Stravinsky feature on the CBSO’s tour to Germany next month, and it will be interesting to hear how Nelsons’ interpretation develops between now and 25 March, when The Firebird returns to Symphony Hall.”

Celebrity Piano Recital: Lang Lang

Thursday 4th February 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Lang Lang piano

Beethoven Piano Sonata in C, Op 2, No 3 26’
Beethoven Piano Sonata in F minor, Op 57, Appassionata 24’
Albéniz Iberia Book 1 21’
Prokofiev Piano Sonata No 7 18’

Encore – Chopin

Lang Lang is a superstar of the piano, hailed as “the hottest artist on the classical music planet” by the New York Times. For this return visit to Symphony Hall, his programme ranges from the Appassionata’s stormy turbulence and the sultry Spanish landscapes of Albéniz to the pyrotechnics of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata. Book your seat now!

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:

“The Chinese pianist Lang Lang is feted as a national hero and inspiration to millions of children in his homeland. He performed live at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony to an estimated worldwide audience of four billion and sells out every venue he’s booked for.”

Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

Lang Lang concerts have the ­hallmarks of celebrity: a capacity crowd, a later-than-­advertised start, camera flashes, ­applause in the wrong places, and a young man who lollops and glides like a pop idol. For the Chinese pianist’s only British date of his ­current tour, Lang’s ­performing ­technique was as ­glittering as the ­sequins on his shirt, but his ­programme suggested that ­showmanship may no longer be his highest ­priority. One can only hope. ” …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”There was a sold-out audience at Symphony Hall on Thursday vociferously applauding the young Chinese super-pianist Lang Lang, even between movements of Beethoven piano sonatas, but I was left totally cold and in fact indignant at this display of spectacle before substance (and at the discourtesy of a 15-minute late start – any extenuating circumstances, please let me know).”  …