The Birmingham Mahler Cycle: Andris Nelsons Conducts Symphony No 5

Tuesday 23 November 2010 at 7.30pm

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

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Simon Halsey  conductor
CBSO Youth Chorus   
CBSO Children’s Chorus   

Weir: Storm 20′
Mahler: Symphony No. 5 72′

Every Mahler symphony tells a life-or-death story – but none does it
with more romance, more melody or more epic sweep than the Fifth.
Opening with a desolate trumpet call and ending with a joyous hymn of
triumph, it’s one of music’s great emotional odysseys, taking in
Viennese waltzes, funeral marches, and – above all – the famous
Adagietto, Mahler’s tender love song to his young wife. It’s probably
Mahler’s most popular symphony – so Andris Nelsons’s interpretation,
part of our year-long Birmingham Mahler Cycle, is sure to be a high
point of the season. But first, choose from two very different musical
palate-cleansers – Bach’s masterly double violin concerto, or Judith
Weir’s Shakespeare-inspired Storm, performed by the very choir and
conductor who premiered it back in 1997.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

… ” -but once it settled down, the performance had perfect scale and perspective, with finely judged pianissimo playing from the CBSO strings in the Adagietto, and a firm sense of where the last movement was heading, and how the brass was going to lead it to that final, affirmative chorale.” …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

… “Tuesday’s account in Symphony Hall was a genuine progress from darkness (launched by Jonathan Holland’s imperiously funereal trumpet summons) to light, in a finale where all involved danced skittishly and exuberantly under Nelsons’ baton, which seems to disappear more and more, as this conductor more talented than he knows relaxes into his role as music director of one of the world’s greatest orchestras.” …

Rating * * * * *

Andris Nelsons takes the CBSO to his Latvia home…

Read More…


Centre Stage

Tuesday 23 November 2010 at 1.10pm

CBSO Centre, Birmingham +44 (0)121 767 4050

Briony Shaw  violin
Richard Jenkinson  cello
Robert Markham  piano

Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A minor, Op.50 47′

Tchaikovsky only wrote one Piano Trio – but he did it in style! Tchaikovsky’s friend Nikolai Rubenstein was one of the greatest pianists of the nineteenth century. So when he died tragically young, Tchaikovsky mourned him in a piano trio as big as a symphony. In two huge movements, the A minor Trio is Tchaikovsky at his most ambitious – but also his most personal. Grandiose, impassioned, and hauntingly sad, everyone who loves Tchaikovsky should get to know it.

Mozart’s Requiem

Thursday 18 November 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Marie-Christine Zupancic  flute
Sarah-Jane Brandon  soprano
Wendy Dawn Thompson  mezzo
Andrew Kennedy  tenor
Benedict Nelson  bass
CBSO Chorus   

Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (Haffner) 17′
Mozart: Flute Concerto in G major 25′
Mozart: Requiem 50′

The mysterious commission from a masked stranger, Mozart’s deathbed
struggle to complete the score, the rumours of murder… if you’ve seen
Amadeus, you’ll know the legends behind Mozart’s Requiem. But the
reality is even more extraordinary. Hear for yourself, because Andris
Nelsons has assembled some of the freshest and finest new voices on
the concert scene to join him, the CBSO and the acclaimed CBSO
Chorus for a very special performance of Mozart’s sublime final
masterpiece. First, though, we hear from a younger and happier Amadeus,
in two of the sunniest gems from his Salzburg years: the exuberant
Haffner Symphony and the First Flute Concerto, a sparkling showcase
for the CBSO’s popular principal flute, Marie-Christine Zupancic.

Blog post by JanH1:

…”The choir began singing “Requiem” and the gathering volume of some two hundred voices filling all the space in the lofty concert hall was properly spine-tingling; the sort of magnificent din that makes you sigh at the beauty of it and bite your lip to prevent uncontrolled falling of tears.

The massed choir turned the first page of music and, contrasted against their dark suits and black dresses, the sudden flutterings of white looked like the wingbeats of hundreds of white doves.  It was a good omen.” …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

… “And we ended with the sublime Requiem. Never mind scholarly nitpickings about the various completions of this unfinished score from Mozart’s deathbed, we just bathed in the sounds, now consoling, now dramatic, of this unique final testament of a composer taken from us far too young, as unfolded in Nelsons’ swiftly-paced yet loving reading.” …

Rating * * * * *

Review by Rian Evans, ClassicalSource:

… “From the very opening there was a dark, underlying tension which, over the course of the work, periodically erupted with a turbulent intensity. It was not simply a question of the D minor tonality and parallels with the score of “Don Giovanni”: the ‘Dies Irae’ in particular stood out for its almost Verdian passion, with blazing natural trumpets and a kettledrum sound which was both thrilling and terrifying. Satisfying in an altogether different way was Nelsons’s sculpting of the long phrasing – as in the ‘Lachrimosa’ – underlining the intrinsic beauty of Mozart’s cantabile lines, both instrumental and vocal. […]

[…] Marie-Christine Zupancic – CBSO principal flautist – was the highly accomplished and serene soloist in the concerto. Her tone was pure and elegantly expressive throughout her range, with each note – even in the fastest passagework – articulated so as to be meaningful. Zupancic delivered coolly virtuosic cadenzas, but even more striking was the way in which she invested the sections in the minor mode with a heart-wrenching beauty. This depth of feeling in turn allowed the flowing lyricism of the finale to assume added grace. A ‘magic flute’ concerto indeed.”

Takács Quartet

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Thu 11 Nov 7:30pm at Town Hall

Haydn String Quartet, Op 74, No 3 18’
Shostakovich String Quartet No 2 33’
Schubert String Quartet, Death and the Maiden 40’

 Generally regarded as Europe’s pre-eminent string quartet, the Takács return to Town Hall with quartets by Haydn and Shostakovich alongside Schubert’s gravely beautiful Death and the Maiden Quartet. ‘This is chamber-music playing of overwhelming intensity, insight and intelligence, simply the best I have ever heard in concert’, wrote the critic of The Guardian recently.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor Oliver Condy explains why he has recommended tonight’s concert:
“The Takács Quartet were the first ever winners of the BBC Music magazine’s Disc of the Year award back in 2006. I’ve since seen them live several times and have never yet failed to be entranced by their ability to breathe new life to into well-worn masterpieces.”

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

…”The Takács Quartet used a wide dynamic range and their grip on the audience was as firm as their grip on the music. This was a magnificent performance which combined intense concentration with rhetorical flair.”…

CBSO 90th Birthday Concert

Wednesday 10 November 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
James Ehnes  violin

Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier – Suite 21′
Haydn: Symphony No. 90 25′
Elgar: Violin Concerto 45′

Encore: Strauss: Salome’s Dance

On 10 November 1920 in Birmingham Town Hall, Sir Edward Elgar
mounted the podium to conduct the first official concert by the brand-new
City of Birmingham Orchestra – the future CBSO. And exactly 100
years ago in London, he conducted the world premiere of his Violin
Concerto: arguably his most personal work, certainly his most passionate.
Tonight Andris Nelsons, violinist James Ehnes and the CBSO celebrate
this double anniversary in lavish style, and mark another milestone on
the CBSO’s 10-year 2020 project with a second masterpiece from
1910: the sumptuous suite from Richard Strauss’s most gorgeous
opera (and that’s saying something). Haydn’s joyous 90th Symphony
completes this 90th birthday celebration.

Recorded for Radio 3 to be broadcast 7pm Thursday 11th November

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”The mood changed completely for the Elgar Violin Concerto, exactly a century old this evening. Rapport between Nelsons, the orchestra and soloist James Ehnes was miraculous, Ehnes singing a seamless song of wistful regret, his accompanists with him every step of this marathon way. Eventually we arrived at the famous cadenza, the orchestral strings shimmering, Ehnes musing nostalgically in dark rich tones.

A party may have launched the evening; it ended with an orgy, the Dance of the Seven Veils from Strauss’ Salome stirringly vivid from a hugely enlarged orchestra responding to Nelsons’ self-exhausting choreography.”

Happy 90th Birthday CBSO

“A glorious 90 years for CBSO” by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

*Give the wonderful CBSO a birthday present!* 

 …”If you share our love of music, every donation – large or small – will help us reach out to thousands of people and give them the chance to experience live music that they will never forget. “…

Latest recordings CBSO/Nelsons:

Recordings over the years:

Party cakes!

Andris Nelsons chats re CBSO 90th birthday event:

Piece about the CBSO’s 90th from 22 mins

Photos from CBSO party:

CBSO, Andris Nelsons, Tchaikovsky CD

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6  and 

Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture

CD released 8th November 2010

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6; Romeo & Juliet (CBSO/Andris Nelsons)

Presto Classical:

…”This performance offers the full and varied palette of Tchaikovsky’s lush and glowing orchestration, from the brusque accents in the wind and gnarled embellishments in the strings in the faster sections to the downright ecstasy of the broad melodic passages. […]

[…] And indeed, the CBSO and Andris Nelsons make Tchaikovsky’s passion and melancholy so compelling that listening makes one forget one’s reserve, leaving one both deeply impressed and moved.”

Mozart’s Clarinet

Thursday 4 November 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

John Storgårds  conductor
Kari Kriikku  clarinet

Beethoven: Overture: Coriolan 8′
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto 28′
Sibelius: Lemminkäinen Suite 50′

“A mighty hero / in his veins the blood of ages / head erect and form commanding…but, alas! he had his failings.” In all Finnish legend, there’s no-one to match the hero Lemminkäinen. Seducing the girls, battling his enemies, and cheating death itself (with a bit of help from his mum), it’s an extraordinary story, and Sibelius puts it all into even more extraordinary music. His Lemminkäinen Suite tells the tale in unforgettable style – including the haunting Swan of Tuonela. It all adds up to the greatest symphony Sibelius never wrote, and the perfect challenge for the superb Finnish conductor John Storgårds. But first, after his breathtaking performance last season, we’re thrilled to welcome back another Finnish legend – virtuoso clarinettist Kari Kriikku, in Mozart’s chart-topping concerto.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”There was some wonderful playing here, not least from Jill Crowther’s cor anglais in the lugubrious Swan of Tuonela, full-throated strings, and Cliff Pick’s ubiquitous but so eloquent bass drum.” … 4/5

(The Sibelius was my favourite piece of the night, “doodlings” et al!)