Mendelssohn Abroad

Thursday 16 December 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Pablo Heras-Casado  conductor
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet  piano

Mendelssohn: Overture, The Hebrides 10′ Listen
requires Real Player
Schumann: Piano Concerto 31”
Busoni: Berceuse Elégaique 9′
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 (Italian) 26′ Listen
requires Real Player

It’s midwinter in Birmingham – so treat yourself to a blast of musical
sunshine, in the form of Mendelssohn’s exuberant Italian symphony.
From the moment it bursts into life to the dizzying final tarantella,
there’s never been a more joyous musical homage to the land of blue
skies and chanti! Pure escapism – and there’s pure romance on the
cards, too, in Schumann’s adorable Piano Concerto, written in the first
flush of love for his wife Clara. The great French keyboard poet Jean-
Efflam Bavouzet joins rising Spanish star Pablo Heras-Casado, who
also steers the CBSO across Mendelssohn’s musical seascape, and
adds a final touch to our musical exploration of the year 1910 with
Busoni’s haunting Berceuse Elégiaque.

Review by Elmley De La Cour, Birmingham Post:

… “From the misty opening of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Casado, conducting without a baton, directed with an impressive confidence and security, displayed in the most pleasing way: never overly busy, and inviting rather than imposing.” …

Rating * * * *

Beethoven and Rachmaninov

Wednesday 8 December 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Dausgaard  conductor
Louis Lortie  piano

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 (Emperor) 38′
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 55′ Listen
requires Real Player

One concert: two epic dramas. “C’est l’empereur!” cried a French soldier,
at the first performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, and the
name has stuck. And fair enough: with its majestic proportions and
stirring melodies, this is a concerto on a truly imperial scale – and a
challenge even for a virtuoso of the calibre of our soloist tonight, Louis
Lortie. Rachmaninov’s tremendous Second Symphony is even grander in
scale; a passionate journey through a vast Russian landscape, with
some of the most romantic music even Rachmaninov ever wrote. Danish
maestro Thomas Dausgaard has this music pulsing through his veins;
expect soaring emotions and sweeping drama, from first note to last.

Louis Lortie encore- Chopin –

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

… “There was so much empathy here between Lortie, CBSO, and the expressive and attentive conductor Thomas Dausgaard, eye-contact between the pianist and orchestral soloists rewardingly collaborative, and Lortie listening so enthusiastically to his colleagues during tutti passages.

[…]After this, Dausgaard’s account of Rachmaninov’s wonderful Second Symphony, shaped with searing inevitability, seemed like a huge bonus. Robert Plane drew all the sweet regretful tenderness from the adagio’s famous clarinet solo, and there were sweet solos, too, from Zoe Beyers at the leader’s desk.   5 stars ”

Cecilia Bartoli: Sacrificium

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Sun 5 Dec 3:00pm at Symphony Hall

Cecilia Bartoli mezzo soprano
Kammerorchester Basel
Julia Schröder concert master

Porpora Sinfonia from Meride e Selinunte
Porpora “Come nave” from Siface
Broschi “Chi non sente al mio dolore” from Merope
Porpora Ouverture from Germanico in Germania
Handel “Lascia la spina”, from Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno
Veracini Ouverture No. 6 in G minor
Vinci “Cervo in bosco” from Medo
Leo “Qual farfalla” from Zenobia in Palmira
Araia “Cadrò, ma qual si mira” from Berenice
Porpora “Usignolo sventurato” from Siface
Graun “Misero pargoletto“from Demofoonte
A. Scarlatti Sinfonia di concerto grosso No. 5 in D minor
Caldara “Quel buon pastor” from La morte d’Abel
Porpora Ouvertures from Gedeone and Perdono, amata Nice
Vinci “Quanto invidio la sorte… Chi vive amante” from Alessandro nelle Indie
Porpora “Nobil onda” from Adelaide

Plus three encores!

‘Confirmation that Bartoli remains one of today’s greatest artists…music of exceptional beauty and passion’ BBC Music magazine on Sacrificium CD

Join Cecilia Bartoli for one of the highlights of the season: a journey through the extraordinary world of eighteenth-century castratos, whose dazzling vocal virtuosity held their contemporaries spellbound. Her latest album, Sacrificium, concentrates on the music of Nicolò Porpora, whose pupils were the most famous castratos of all time. Experience this music brought to life again, by one of today’s leading singers.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor Oliver Condy explains why he has recommended this afternoon’s concert:
“To experience Cecilia Bartoli live in concert is as much about seeing her as hearing her. Bartoli’s musicianship, sense of drama and entertainment is of a calibre matched by a tiny handful of singers today. A unique afternoon for those lucky to grab a ticket!”

1:45pm Pre-concert talk by David Owen Norris: Everything you wanted to know about the castrato but were afraid to ask.

Review by Robert J Farr, MusicWebInternational :

(but for Manchester performance):

… “This programme of a selection of the virtuosic writing for the castrati yet again allowed Miss Bartoli to illustrate her phenomenal range with open throated ease, including a perfectly controlled trill and thrilling embellishments, always at the service of the words and the varied intentions of composer’s music. Her body language, flashing eyes as well as the sheer vivacity and vitality of her singing draws in the audience and makes the totality of her performance an event to be remembered. In her second encore she sang the opening phrases on a formidably long breath that would have allowed even an average swimmer a length or two under water. It was simply another addition to her interpretative and vocal skills that few, if any, equal today.” …
 Blog post from KidsMusicCorner:
“Amazing! That’s All I Can Say.”
That’s what a 9-year old girl wrote in her diary on Sunday after going to her first ever concert of classical music.” …..
Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:
She swaggered onstage in knee-length boots, hip-hugging breeches, silk-lined cloak and tricorn hat – the epitome of a pantomime principal boy. […][…] The Kammerorchester Basel, under their exuberant leader Julia Schröder, gave splendid support both in the arias and the interspersed instrumental pieces by Porpora.[…]

[…] Bartoli’s singing, her beaming smile and showmanship reminds us that opera can be fun – her standing ovation was thoroughly deserved.”

Rating * * * *


 Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb:

… “Any reviewer of a Bartoli concert can soon run out of superlatives. It is impossible to overlook: the laughter in her voice (remember Alma Cogan from another genre?), the Technicolor range of timbre, the engagement with the words, the infectious charisma. Not only did her fans love Bartoli, but she loved them. She got a standing ovation, of course. Two hours of music from her and the supporting band was not enough for the packed Birmingham audience. With an exaggerated of swish of the red billowing skirt she was now wearing, complete with glistening gold top, she was more than happy to oblige. She had saved some of her more astonishing sounds for the encores. I wish I had had a stop watch to time one of her notes in the first; it may not have been the full minute that certain castrati were reported to achieve, but the messa di voce seemed to go on forever. For her final entry she donned two enormous red feathers that together with another tongue twister said it all. Bartoli’s The Art and Ecstasy of the Castrato was pure ecstasy.” …

Jurowski Conducts Mahler 4

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Thu 2 Dec 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Steven Osborne piano
Christine Schäfer soprano

Beethoven Piano Concerto No 4 32’
Mahler Symphony No 4 54’

Few conductors have received the plaudits that have been awarded to Vladimir Jurowski, Chief Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Described as ‘the most creative force in London’s orchestral life’ (Financial Times), his concert contains Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, one of the composer’s most relaxed works – classical, song-like and culminating in a representation of a child’s view of heaven. Steven Osborne is the soloist in the gentle lyrical poetry of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.

6:15pm Pre-concert talk with Lyndon Jenkins and Vladimir Jurowski.

Part of The Birmingham Mahler Cycle 

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWebInternational:

… “Jurowski wonderfully recreated Mahler’s marking of Restful in the third Poco adagio movement, the emotional heart of the symphony. The heart-rending strains from the orchestra recalled the vision that had motivated the composer – the carved image of the departed atop a tombstone, a child asleep in death. The ebb and flow of the strings was indeed poignant and distinctively Mahlerian. I thought the role of second violins here was crucial, admirably led by Clare Duckworth. But this was a real team effort: subtle changes in pace were expertly handled by Jurowski; the autumnal colours of the woodwind were vividly set against the lilting strings; the surge in anticipation that led to the climactic depiction of the opening of heaven’s gates was fabulous. After the exultations of the horn and timpani, the tranquil runs on the harp in the coda produced the ‘My Mahler’ moment of the evening (see THSH’s website”   …

Review by Elmley De La Cour, Birmingham Post:

… “Soloist, Stephen Osborne gave an effectively understated performance of the delicate work, conjuring subtle tones of pinpoint clarity from the piano. Against this, the orchestra provided a superb backdrop of velvety strings and sensitive wind. […]

[…] Mahler’s symphony, however, presented a dilemma. The orchestra played extremely well, creating the symphony’s nostalgic and almost haunting character from the very opening. The first movement’s passages of pizzicato and col legno were also given a spatial twist with the double basses positioned behind the woodwind. Soprano Christine Schafer was excellent, too, […]   Rating * * * *    “