Alfie Boe with the CBSO

Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Simon Halsey  conductor
Natasha Marsh  soprano
Alfie Boe  tenor
William Berger  baritone
CBSO Youth Chorus  

Holst: Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda 12′
Finzi: Dies Natalis 25′
Howard Goodall: Eternal Light (Requiem) 45′

Whether as the composer of theme tunes from Blackadder to The Vicar of Dibley, or as a wonderfully accessible TV champion of classical music in all its forms, Howard Goodall is one of Britain’s best-loved composers. And his new tuneful and deeply moving Requiem, Eternal Light, has already become a bestseller. This performance, with star soloists Alfie Boe and Natasha Marsh, will show you why. Alfie Boe also sings Finzi’s radiant masterpiece.

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

…”The CBSO Youth Chorus sang splendidly obviously relishing the lively Carl Orff-inspired Revelation movement. Natasha Marsh sang sweetly and baritone William Berger was firm and dignified in Do not stand at my grave and weep, which sounds like a first rate West End musical number.”…

Muti conducts Beethoven

Tue 23 Mar 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Riccardo Muti

Philharmonia Orchestra
Riccardo Muti conductor
Joshua Bell violin

Beethoven Violin Concerto 42’
Beethoven Symphony No 3, Eroica 50’

“There have been few more glamorous conducting careers than that of Riccardo Muti, who has conducted the world’s greatest orchestras and spent nearly twenty years as director of La Scala, Milan.

Tonight he appears at Symphony Hall for the first time, conducting two towering Beethoven masterpieces: the majestic Eroica Symphony and the timeless Violin Concerto, played by one of the finest violinists of his generation, Joshua Bell.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:
“Riccardo Muti and Joshua Bell go back a long way. When the violinist was just fourteen years old it was with Maestro Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra that he made his debut.” “

Quality evening!

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”Joshua Bell was soloist in the Concerto, his approach properly Olympian, with no attempt to seek out spurious emotional underlayings, and his playing was both muscular and sweet-toned. But any sense of the music’s huge stature seemed to be skated over.”…

Welsh National Opera – Tosca

Wed 17 Mar, Fri 19 Mar 2010 7:15pm

No-one is safe in the Rome of 1800. Under Baron Scarpia corruption and suspicion hang over the city, virtue and humanity are cruelly stamped out.

The world of opera singer Floria Tosca is about to be turned upside down. She is suspicious of her lover Mario’s fidelity. Little does she realize that he is at the centre of a struggle that will lead to tragedy. Soon she herself will become the object of Scarpia’s insatiable lust and she will be forced to ask what she has done to deserve this.
Once decried as a “shabby little shocker”, Tosca has become one of the best loved of all operas. The combination of its fast paced plot, high tension and the poignancy of the great arias “Vissi d’arte” and “E lucevan le stelle” ensure that Tosca never fails to enthral.
Michael Blakemore’s period set production of this pulsating thriller promises to set your emotions on a knife-edge.
Cast includes Elisabete Matos as Floria Tosca, Geraint Dodd as Cavaradossi, Robert Hayward as Scarpia.
Owing to the indisposition of Elisabete Matos, the role of Tosca was sung by Naomi Harvey on 17th March
I thought Robert Hayward was brilliant, pitiful, pathetic, then evil and repugnant, and beautiful singing. I have heard better sopranos but Naomi Harvey had an intense presence, and sang well. The orchestra were fairly good, great to have the music vibrating under one’s feet, and enjoyed the whole evening. The set was grand and fit the large Hippodrome stage well. (so not sure about Birmingham Post review?!)
Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
…”Naomi Harvey and Geraint Dodd had excellent stage-presence as Tosca and Cavaradossi, despite occasionally bumpy and raspy singing, and Robert Hayward made a convincing Scarpia, if more psychotic and less chillingingly self-controlled than we normally see in this evil Chief of Police.” …

Rattle’s Bach

Saturday 6 March 2010 at 7.00pm

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

Sir Simon Rattle  conductor
Camilla Tilling  soprano
Magdalena Kozená  mezzo-soprano
Mark Padmore  tenor, EVANGELIST
Topi Lehtipuu  tenor
Christian Gerhaher  baritone, CHRISTUS
Thomas Quasthoff  baritone
CBSO Chorus   
CBSO Children’s Chorus  

Bach: St. Matthew Passion (sung in English with German surtitles 151′

In the whole of music there’s nothing else quite like it: Bach’s dramatic re-telling of the events of Holy Week has a power and expressive beauty that add up to an overwhelming experience. Returning to the CBSO for the first time in four years, our former music director Sir Simon Rattle leads an outstanding international cast and our own acclaimed choruses in what is sure to be one of the hottest tickets of this or any season – be sure to book early!

This concert will be broadcast on Radio 3 on Wednesday 10th March from 6:30pm  

Review by Richard Morrison, Times:

…”It was also, overwhelmingly, a communal act of music making. Yes, there were superb individuals. Mark Padmore, perhaps with Langridge in mind, sang the Evangelist with mesmerising expression, clarity and directness — and all from memory. Christian Gerhaher’s Christus became more and more commanding; his final cry of despair seemed torn from deep within him.

Magdalena Kozená produced one heartbreaking aria after another. She is twice the singer when she commits emotionally. And in Erbarme dich she was matched by Laurence Jackson’s sublime violin solo, the best of many fine instrumental contributions from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.” …

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

…”Much of the solo singing was exceptional. Mark Padmore’s Evangelist was a remarkable achievement, sung from memory with crystal-clear diction and a fabulous range of colour, while Christian Gerhaher’s Christus was the perfect complement, a model of understated eloquence. Magdalena Kozˇená’s mezzo-soprano arias were highlights, too, full of consoling warmth and consistent beauty of tone, and both soprano Camilla Tilling and tenor Topi Lehtipuu combined stylishness with expressive depth.” …

Blog by Judith Ogden:

…”As Simon Rattle stepped up to the podium for his eagerly-awaited return the warmth of the applause was almost overwhelming. And then on to the music. From the outset, the clarity of the orchestra – playing without vibrato and with such exquisitely perfect intonation – was breathtaking. It meant you get past the notes and can hear the music. Rattle’s conducting style is so familiar (I’ve only seem him live once before but he seems to pop up on the telly quite frequently) yet so unexpected as he found depths, phrases, nuances in the score I’d never heard before – coaxing them from the orchestra with a lean towards them, a raise of an eyebrow, the fluttering fingers of his left hand.” …

Review by Bill Kenny, MusicWeb:

…”Even so, a  better Evangelist than Mark Padmore is difficult to imagine. Placed in front of the podium and singing the work from memory, his effortless tenor filled  the Hall with drama and with exquisite sound. Every word in the text was meaningful and compelling, full of interest and empathic sensitivity shaded carefully by ever-changing vocal colours. Mr Padmore knows this music inside out and clearly cares about it very deeply. … 
…  Fine as the solo singing was,  the evening belonged to the CBSO’s players and singers and to Simon Rattle. The bond between musicians and their former Chief Conductor seemed as strong as ever and Rattle’s direction was model of quietly authoritative economy. His stamp was placed firmly on the work from the opening bars of ‘Kommt, ihr Töchter helft mir klagen’ through to the final choruses: conducting without a baton and with minimalist gesture,  he sculpted ravishing and superbly controlled sound from his massive forces – no historically ‘correct’ performance this – to sustain the work’s momentum as an organic whole.” …

Review by Lynne Walker, The Independent:

“Rattle’s Bach” is how the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra publicised its St. Matthew Passion at the weekend. It could as easily have been “Rattle’s Passion”, given the spontaneity and cumulative emotional power which distinguished the first of two sold-out performances of this baroque choral masterpiece. The CBSO, playing on modern instruments, showed that exquisitely voiced accompaniments, sensitively shaped and sympathetically phrased, needn’t be the preserve of period instrument orchestras.” …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”Engagement from the soloists was vivid, baritone Thomas Quasthoff particularly involved, but outstanding among them all was Mark Padmore. Singing the huge part of the Evangelist without a score, his presence compelled throughout all three hours of the performance: even when not singing himself, he was constantly immersed, and frequently outraged, at the unfolding of this terrible story.” …

Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony

Tuesday 2 March 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Jaap van Zweden conductor
Simon Trpčeski piano

Mussorgsky Prelude to Khovanshchina 6’
Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3 27’
Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 60’

One of Holland’s foremost orchestras, with their Principal Conductor Jaap van Zweden, brings a richly romantic programme to Symphony Hall. There’s the heartfelt lyricism and inexhaustible melody of Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony and Mussorgsky’s exquisite Khovanshchina Prelude, evoking dawn over Moscow. And, expect sparks to fly in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto in the hands of Simon Trpčeski – one of today’s hottest young pianists.

Due to the current economic climate we regret that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, originally due to perform at this concert, has been forced to postpone its European tour. However, we are delighted to secure the outstanding Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, with conductor Jaap van Zweden and pianist Simon Trpčeski as originally advertised, in a programme that is virtually unchanged.

“Jaap van Zweden is the principal conductor of no less than four important orchestras around the world, but tonight he returns to his Dutch roots with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. At the core of this impressive programme is the young Macedonian sensation Simon Trpčeski who will tackle one of the trickiest piano concertos in the book, Prokofiev’s ferocious Third.” Oliver Condy, BBC Music Magazine.

Encore – Prokofiev March

Review by Geoff Brown, Times:

“Van Zweden paid due respect to Rachmaninov’s instrumental colouring. The tuba loomed up like a sea monster. Woodwinds were nicely bumptious. This wasn’t perhaps the subtlest interpretation; but I’d happily bottle its energy.  …

And another energy surge came with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3, a work that requires the pianists’ hands to leap and yell. No problem for Simon Trpceski, the Macedonian wonder, whose finger power and feeling for rhythm is second to none. And Van Zweden’s troops weren’t left panting, even in the hurtling finale. Smiles all round.”

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

…”He was well-matched in Simon Trpceski, who has a marvellous way of seizing the rhythms so that they seem almost early – but not quite. Together they brought an amazing edge-of-the seat excitement to Prokofiev’s concerto, but the best moment came in a tranced passage in the first movement, when clarinet, bassoon and Trpceski’s left-hand musings were intermingled. Suddenly, amid all the tumult, we had the intimacy of chamber music.” …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

… “The highlight of the evening was Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3, Simon Trpceski the soloist. The quirky fairy-tale interludes were set into an appropriate context, and Trpceski’s virtuosity never stole the thunder of this enchanting music.

Trpceski’s encore, a miniature Prokofiev March, was just perfect.”

Review by Hilary Finch, The Observer:

… “This week van Zweden, the young Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski and the Netherlands RPO have been on tour in the UK. If Birmingham’s all-Russian programme was the measure, this was first-class music-making. Trpceski gave a scintillating account of Prokofiev’s knotty third piano concerto, managing to bring a bendy, relaxed manner to the spiky, motoric figurations.

The second movement theme and variations had an improvisatory feel, as if Trpceski, jazzily noodling up and down the keyboard, had suddenly whisked us from the comfort of Symphony Hall to a cocktail bar. After, in response to noisy cheers from a stunned audience, he charmed us with the tiny march from Prokofiev’s Musiques d’enfants as an encore, a mere 34 bars (and nearly as many key changes) of sparky pleasure.” …