Birmingham Mahler Cycle: Sakari Oramo conducts Symphony No. 10

Wednesday 23 February 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Sakari Oramo  conductor

Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (completed by Deryck Cooke) 78′

When Gustav Mahler died in May 1911, he left his final symphony
tantalisingly unfinished. So Deryck Cooke’s completion of this mighty
score was one of the twentieth century’s great feats of artistic rescue.
On a musical par with raising the Titanic, it uncovered a lost
masterpiece of modern music – one that answers the question: after
the “farewell to life” of his Ninth, where could Mahler go next? The
Tenth is a spiritual odyssey, filled with puzzles and allusions; a work
where cries of love and cries of pain finally resolve in music of
shattering honesty and heartbreaking beauty. Former CBSO music
director Sakari Oramo makes an emotional return to guide us to the
heart of Mahler’s final musical testament. If you don’t know the Tenth,
you don’t know Mahler.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

…  “The drama of this extraordinary work was laid out just as lucidly. The opening of the finale, with the serpentine emergence of the tuba abruptly cut short by the muffled strokes of the bass drum, was tinglingly dramatic, and if Oramo didn’t wring the maximum consolation out of the closing pages, he built towards them with unswerving certainty.”

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb:

…  “In the opening Adagio, the violas used by Mahler to set the pace and mood of the movement produced an instant feeling of empathy for his predicament; the CBSO viola players were desolate and aching, well led as usual by Christopher Yates. Oramo alternately built and relaxed the intensity with an expert’s guiding touch. Although expected, when the nine-note dissonant chord came it still created a violent impact, a veritable stab in the heart. The music swept along, a superb example of Mahler’s ability to combine angst with beauty, seemingly without any hope of reconciliation.”  … 
Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
… “During his tenure he did so much to develop the orchestra’s reputation as explorers of repertoire, whether standard or unusual, and he consolidated the finesse of the strings to an extent which persists today.

It was good, then, to welcome Oramo back in a work which relies so much upon the strings in their exposure and eloquence. […]

[…]  David Matthews’ lengthy programme-note was fascinatingly informative, and under Oramo’s persuasive and impassioned direction the performance itself never failed to grip. ”  …

Rating * * * * *


Review by Alice Young, Redbrick Student Paper: 

…  “The acoustics in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall lend themselves perfectly to the extraordinary complexities and detail of Mahler’s work. Everything in this symphony from the quiet pizzicato on the strings to the glorious sustained trumpet notes can be received with the exact balance and texture Mahler intended.”  …


Saturday 19 February 2011 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Nadezhda Serdiuk  mezzo
CBSO Chorus   

Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky 36′
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) 47′

Welcome the heroes. Beethoven lived through the age of Revolution;
Prokofiev worked in Stalin’s Russia. But they both knew how to tell a
thrilling story. Alexander Nevsky may have begun as an epic war movie
set in medieval Russia, but this is one film-score that sounds even
more sensational live! Prokofiev assembles a massive orchestra and
chorus, then unleashes hell, as knights and priests clash on the ice to
ear-splitting music. Then, with two explosive chords, Beethoven blows
the world of the classical symphony wide open. There’s still no
symphony to match the sheer electricity of his revolutionary Eroica –
and no question, the real hero here is Ludwig van B himself! Andris
Nelsons’s interpretation is keenly awaited.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…. “and here the CBSO under the perennially galvanised Andris Nelsons delivered all its demands vibrantly and colourfully.

Equally starring was the CBSO Chorus, the Russian and Latin texts delivered with expertly-placed diction under David Lawrence’s choral direction, and mezzo-soprano Nadezhda Serdiuk was sorrowing and compassionate in her grieving, visionary solo.” …

Review (for Wednesday’s matinee performance which included Eroica) by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

…”If you share the view that Beethoven’s greatest works are a fusion of opposing forces – namely revolutionary fervour and personal angst – then Andris Nelsons’ interpretation of the Eroica Symphony hit every mark.” …

Purcell’s Fairy Queen

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Thu 17 Feb 7:30pm at Town Hall

New London Consort
Philip Pickett conductor
Joanne Lunn soprano
Dana Marbach soprano
Faye Newton soprano
Christopher Robson countertenor
Tim Travers-Brown countertenor
Ed Lyon tenor
Joseph Cornwell tenor
Michael George bass
Simon Grant bass
Mauricio García Lozano director
Ace McCarron lighting designer

Please note Mauricio García Lozano replaces Neil Wallace.

Purcell The Fairy Queen 130’

There will be one interval and the concert will end at approximately 10pm.
A co-production de Doelen Rotterdam and The Sage Gateshead, in collaboration with Circus Space

London audiences in the 1690s revelled in the spectacle of The Fairy Queen – a maverick combination of Purcell’s glorious music, acting, costumes, and ‘machines and decorations’. This new production uses innovative stage direction and circus performers to recreate something of the colourful, fantastical spirit of the original.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, explains why he has recommended tonight’s concert:
“Purcell’s opera contains his finest music. Based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Fairy Queen is a dramatic and musical masterpiece that delights and moves in equal measure. This fun-filled, circus-inspired production features a superb line-up of artists.”

6.15pm Pre-concert conversation with the artists.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

… “Philip Pickett’s New London Consort, cosily tucked up in a corner of the Town Hall Stage, delivered the score brightly and lovingly, and his soloists (complicated to identify from the otherwise informative programme) sang with immense style, technical brilliance and emotional communication.” …

Birmingham Mahler Cycle: Kindertotenlieder

Thursday 10 February 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Karl-Heinz Steffens  conductor
Christianne Stotijn  mezzo

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) 22′
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder 23′
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 38′

From the heart…to the heart. In Central Europe, the sweetest melody can express the darkest feelings, and tonight three supreme Central European masters take us on three unforgettable emotional journeys. Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ symphony overflows with glorious tunes, but it’s almost as powerful for what it leaves unsaid. Dvorák poured all his national pride into the greatest of all his symphonies – a masterpiece even finer than the ‘New World’. And Gustav Mahler came to terms with fatherhood with some of the most heartfelt songs he ever wrote.

The CBSO is sad to learn of the death of Sir Charles Mackerras, who was to have conducted this concert. The performance is dedicated to his memory.

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb-International:

…”Any blame as to the shortcomings or otherwise of this Kindertotenlieder could not be laid at the CBSO or Steffens – their backing was exemplary throughout. […]

The two symphonic works from Steffens and the CBSO were quite different in their impact. While the ‘Unfinished’ was somewhat staid and mechanical, the Dvořák was stimulating and flamboyant. […]

The scratch team of Steffens and guest French leader Philippe Honoré had formed an instant bond with the CBSO; it was they who made the evening worthwhile.”

Conservatoire Showcase!

Thursday 10th February 6:15pm

Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra

Michael Seal: Conductor

Ethel Smyth: The March of the Women

Bridge: Suite – The Sea

The Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Seal, performs two forgotten British Classics from 1910 – 1911. (CBSO: 2020)

Free pre-concert, concert.

Tuned In: Mahler Symphony No 9

Thursday 3 February 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Stephen Johnson  presenter

Mahler: Introduction to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, with live orchestral examples 30”
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 87′ Listen
requires Real Player

Few symphonies tell a story as rich as that of Mahler’s Ninth. So join
presenter Stephen Johnson, conductor Andris Nelsons, and the full
CBSO, for the latest in the CBSO’s acclaimed Tuned In series of
concerts-with-a-difference. In the first half, Stephen (with a bit of help
from Andris Nelsons and the orchestra) uncovers the many layers of
Mahler’s last symphony – the hidden codes, the tricks of Mahler’s trade,
and the personal stories behind the notes. Then, after the interval,
there’s a full performance of the Symphony. Whether you’re a Mahler
first-timer, or you’ve known the Ninth for years, every performance of
this piece reveals something new. Tonight, we’ll help you find your own
way into the ultimate Romantic symphony.

Special prices apply: £20 all areas.

Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb:

… “Nelsons and his superb orchestra brought out all the passion in the first movement. There was a great deal of ardour and commitment in the music making and the powerfully projected climaxes were distinguished by dramatic, biting playing. At times the music sounded hedonistic and truly abandoned, and surely that’s right. However, I must immediately record that the quieter passages – and there are many of them – in which Mahler’s orchestral textures are often very spare, were rendered with finesse. The last few pages were superbly controlled and Nelsons ensured that the spell remained unbroken for a good length of time after the music had ceased.” …

Review for Wednesday night’s performance, by Stephen Walsh, ArtsDesk:

Review for Wednesday night’s performance, by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

…”Abetted by the super-sharp acoustic of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the orchestra made a thrillingly vivid sound – which was wonderful in the impassioned episode in the first movement.” …

Review for Wednesday night’s performance, by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Review for Wednesday night’s performance, by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…”And no-one could possibly imagine the subsequent performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony was Nelsons’ first-ever. His grip over its huge paragraphs and almost hallucinatory shifts in expression revealed a total immersion in this valedictory masterpiece as he guided us so patiently to its fading conclusion…

It goes without saying that his CBSO players responded with sumptuous depth of tone and well-characterised incidentals.” …

Review for Wednesday night’s performance, by Fiona Maddocks, The Observer:

…”Nelsons squeezed incisive, analytical zest out of each fresh idea with near frenzied intensity. No wonder he needed water as the orchestra retuned halfway through. If this, with its tendency towards heady extremes, is a young man’s high-octane Mahler – and it is, thrillingly – think how it will ripen. The CBSO strings, especially the second violins who launch the raucous ländler and carry the whispered final notes, deserve danger money.” …