Andris Nelsons conducts the New World Symphony

Wednesday 28 July 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Paul Lewis  piano

Wagner: Rienzi   13′
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2   28′
Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 (From the New World)   40′

The first time Andris Nelsons conducted Dvorák’s New World Symphony with the CBSO, the Orchestra was so impressed that it made him Music Director! Hear why tonight, and be ready to fall in love all over again with Dvorák’s most popular symphony. Wagner’s Rienzi overture (a personal favourite of Andris Nelsons) opens the concert in barnstorming style, before the masterly young British pianist Paul Lewis makes a welcome and long-awaited return to the CBSO with Beethoven’s sparkling concerto.

This concert is dedicated to the memory of Sir Charles Mackerras.

BBC iPlayer – This concert at the Proms Thursday 29th July 2010 

Broadcast on: BBC Four, 2:25am Friday 30th July 2010 / Duration: 110 minutes / Available until: 9:24pm Thursday 5th August 2010

Review by George Hall, the Guardian (Prom 16):

…”So, too, was the final work, Dvorák’s New World Symphony. With material so familiar, any successful performance has to capture the freshness of first acquaintance as well as a mastery only realised through experience. Balanced to a nicety and conveyed by Nelsons with comprehensive conviction, this account was also notable for some silky-soft string playing, which had the audience reaching forward with their ears to grasp it.” …

Comments on Prom 16:


“What makes a great conductor?” blog by Tom Service, Guardian:

…”But the connection between him and his players is among the most special I’ve seen anywhere. It’s always galling when the hype is right, but there really is something going on between Nelsons and the CBSO, where he’s music director, an alchemy that makes the combination irresistible in concert. They put together a programme of tub-thumpers and warhorses, but Nelsons and his players gave Wagner’s Rienzi Overture and Dvorak’s New World Symphony an intensity and attention to detail that made both works sound new-minted.” …


Blog  review (Prom 16) by Mark Berry:

…”Nelsons proceeded to attack the Allegro molto with great urgency, yet still more spellbinding was the stillness as the flute announced the movement’s second group. True defiance, terror even, characterised its closing pages. And – a sign of charisma this! – keeping his hands in the air miraculously forestalled gloomily expected minority applause, setting a precedent thereafter adhered to. That solo, or rather those solos, were beautifully taken in the slow movement, Alan Garner drawing on seemingly endless reserves of breath. Nelsons’s tempo seemed so right that one only really noticed it in retrospect. The combination of woodwind soloists and double bass pizzicato in the movement’s middle section was simply ravishing, as were the violins when they took over the theme. Once again, I thought this might have been a great continental orchestra. Perhaps the most delicate pianissimo playing I have heard in the Royal Albert Hall…..

….This was a wonderful performance indeed.”


Prom 16 review by Barry Millington, London Evening Standard:

Paul Lewis continued his traversal of the Beethoven piano concertos with new partners: the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons. He could not have asked for more responsive or inspirational colleagues, for they matched his pinpoint delicacy, arching lyricism and command of rhetoric at every turn.  …

Wagner’s Rienzi Overture, steeped in the bombastic style of French grand opera, often sounds at best vulgar, at worst ridiculous. But Nelsons brought both mystery and genuine nobility of spirit. I’m still not sure how he did it.”

Blog review (Prom 16 broadcast), by Tam Pollard:


…”There was a wonderful sweep to Nelsons’ interpretation too and plenty of fire and passion.  At the same time he brought out lots of nice details in the orchestration too.  The famous cor anglais solo in second movement was very nicely done.  Indeed, the reading was full of absolutely beautiful playing generally and some fine shimmering textures.  Nelsons also kept it very taut rhythmically, important in Dvořák, but also found a wonderful tension to the quiet couple of bars before the close.  Ultimately, there was not a hint of the routine.” …


Review (Prom 16) by Richard Landau,

…”Any who feel tired of hearing Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony should have heard Andris Nelsons’s interpretation, the work new-minted. The beautiful opening of the first movement, here unselfconsciously shaped, commanded attention right away, after which the sheer energy and variegated moods of the Allegro molto (its exposition not repeated) were negotiated in a manner that seemed wholly natural and inevitable. The brass choir and Alan Garner’s cor anglais confidently and graphically introduced the plaintive mood of the Largo, further graced with other superb contributions, any number of molto espressivo passages falling like balm on the ears. The scherzo, notable for some exquisitely lyrical wind playing, was by turns vital, perky and charming, whilst the finale evinced many more examples of virtuosity, Nelsons negotiating his players through music whose unbridled energy is often attenuated by darker undercurrents. The final affirmation, though, was thoroughly uplifting.”


Review by John Gough, Birmingham Post:

…”Paul Lewis’s performance of Beethoven’s Second Concerto was a demonstration of what partnership means, compelling us to surrender to the musical experience rather than just admire the sheer artistry of the soloist. The magically hushed handling of the slow movement, particularly the lead back to the main theme, was just breathtaking.

It’s now part of CBSO folklore that it was Nelson’s performance of Dvorák’s New World Symphony that led to his appointment as music director and you could well believe it in such an electrifying account such as this.”…


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