Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Thursday 31st March 2011

Dance Consortium present

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Sunday Times

Watch out, ballet’s very-grandes dames are back. After sell-out performances in 2008, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (or ‘The Trocks’ to their friends) return with a fantastic programme,  a lorry load of costume changes and lashings of diva attitude.

Winners of the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards and the TMA Theatre Award, The Trocks’ combination of pure comedy, extraordinary technical prowess and genuine love of ballet has made them a global phenomenon since they formed in New York in 1974.

For FUN, GAMES and FROLICS visit www.trockstour.co.uk

Reviews by Roger Clarke and Paul Marston, BehindtheArras:


…     “This is not just an extended comedy sketch though. If you really want to parody something you need to be pretty good at it in the first place, the Tommy Cooper and Victor Borge principle.

Thus we have a troop of classically trained ballet dancers who have danced with some pretty impressive companies and their skill and technique is there for all to see – even in tutus.

Yes, we have ballerinas as well, hairy chested and a little heavy thighed, but blokes all the same who not only dispel the myth that men can’t dance en pointe but do it to a level many ballerinas in leading companies would not sniff at.   [ …]

[…]     You can’t beat it. Ballet with belly laughs.”

Jac van Steen Conducts Mahler 6

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Jac van Steen  conductor

Mahler: Symphony No 6 85′

Art imitates life – it isn’t meant to happen the other way round. Mahler
imagined his mighty Sixth Symphony as an epic musical tragedy, in
which a hero is destroyed by three devastating blows of fate. And
then…he lost his job, was diagnosed with heart disease, and lost his
five-year old daughter. Coincidence? Mahler didn’t think so. And you can
tell why; he’d filled every bar of this immense symphony with his most
heartfelt and intimate emotions. It’s a musical experience like no other, a
symphony that leaves no listener unmoved – and it absolutely has to be
heard live. In the hands of master-Mahlerian Jac van Steen be ready to
be astonished, to be moved, and to be shaken to the very depths of
your being.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


…     “The orchestra played out of its socks for this conductor so attuned to the Mahlerian idiom, drawing crisp martial rhythms, full-throated lyricism (what a wonderful “Alma-theme” from the strings), defiant woodwind interjections, uneasy brass, now affirmative, now questing, and percussion-playing both colourfully evocative and menacingly implacable – fabulous timpani unisons from Peter Hill and Cliff Pick on the famous motto-rhythm which drives the hero into oblivion.”

Rating * * * * *

Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb:


…   “The playing of the CBSO was impressively sonorous and incisive. Even this early in the symphony’s epic journey there were some excellent solo contributions to admire, not least from leader Zoë Beyers and principal horn Elspeth Dutch – these proved to be a foretaste of consistently good solo work across the orchestra throughout the performance.  […]

[…]   This was a very fine performance indeed. Jac van Steen’s conception of Mahler’s Sixth was a gripping one and it was marvellously realised by the CBSO, which was on trenchant form. This was surely one of the peaks in Birmingham’s excellent Mahler cycle.”

Gergiev Conducts Mahler 7

Gergiev Conducts Mahler 7

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Fri 25 Mar 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev conductor

Mahler Symphony No 7    78’

The combination of Valery Gergiev, the London Symphony Orchestra and Mahler have wowed audiences and had critics reaching for superlatives. ‘Raw energy and white hot climaxes’ is how The Guardian described their revelatory performances. Tonight Gergiev turns his attention to the Seventh Symphony: an epic journey from darkness to overwhelming joyous affirmation, taking in two eerie and fantastical night-music movements along the way.

6.15pm Pre-concert talk. Composer John Joubert discusses the music of Mahler with Lyndon Jenkins

Part of The Birmingham Mahler Cycle

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


…   “Despite its vast orchestral demands, this is a chamber music-textured composition, and its demanding solo contributions were beautifully delivered, not least by the violin and viola principals.

Balances were instinctively judged, as were tempi. Gergiev wrought magic here.”

Rating * * * * *

Telling Tales

Thursday 24 March 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Michael Seal  conductor
Peter Donohoe  piano

Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel 16′ Listen
requires Real Player
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2 22”
Dvořák: The Water Goblin 20”
Janácek: Taras Bulba 25′

Once upon a time… four composers set out to tell a story. Richard
Strauss told the tale of a famous prankster, in some of his cheekiest and
most playful music. Antonín Dvorák turned to Czech folklore, to spin a
spine-chilling fairy-tale complete with storms, goblins and an underwater
wedding. Leos Janácek splashed great buckets of dazzling orchestral
colour all over one of the most savage episodes in Russian history. And
Franz Liszt… well, rumour had it that he was in league with Satan
anyway! Peter Donohoe brings his trademark keyboard devilry to Liszt’s
outrageous Second Concerto. For this evening of orchestral music at its
most extravagantly entertaining, CBSO Assistant Conductor Michael
Seal is your storyteller… so, if you’re sitting comfortably, we’ll begin!

Peter Donahoe’s Encore -‘Les jeux d’eaux a la Villa d’Este’, from Années de Pèlerinage Book 3 by Liszt

Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:


…   “Seal truly captured the haunting eerie tale of Dvorak’s Water Goblin ably abetted by finely-tuned woodwind teamwork, vivid brass and well-balanced top quality string playing.

More death in Taras Bulba with splendid battle scenes and magnificent brass.

Typical high pitched exciting timpani writing and intermittent tubular bells from composer Janácek added to the whole, as did lovely violin solos from Zoë Beyers.”    …

Pappano Conducts Mahler 1

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Sat 19 Mar 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome
Antonio Pappano conductor
Boris Berezovsky piano

Verdi Aida Sinfonia 12’
Liszt Piano Concerto No 1 20’
Mahler Symphony No 1 53’

Finmeccanica is the main sponsor of Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome.

Encores – Berezovsky with orchestra – Liszt Piano Concerto No 1 finale

Orchestra – Rossini, Puccini,

One of Italy’s most celebrated orchestras contributes the First Symphony to Birmingham’s Mahler Cycle under the inspiring baton of its Music Director Antonio Pappano (also renowned as Music Director of the Royal Opera House). Joyous and optimistic, opening with an evocation of dawn, it closes with a roof-raising finale. And, to open the concert, there is a rarity: the orchestral Sinfonia that Verdi made from his ever-popular Aida – music that is in the very blood of these players.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, explains why he has recommended tonight’s concert:
“Who better than the fiercely talented Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia to tease the sunshine out of these exciting masterpieces? And who better, too, to bring the passion to Liszt’s mighty First Piano Concerto than the fiery Russian virtuoso Boris Berezovsky?”

‘Anyone who still believes that the words “Italian orchestra” and “technical precision” do not belong in the same sentence should have heard the performance of Guillaume Tell. Santa Cecilia Orchestra is fleet and wonderfully together, with crunch, buoyancy, a keen sense of collective phrasing and its own very distinctive sound.’ Financial Times

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:


“There was much to admire in this Italian orchestra’s performance of Mahler’s First Symphony, especially the final blazing peroration.

The horns and brass section stood up to play the thunderous final bars: not as a piece of crude showmanship to get the audience cheering, although it succeeded in doing that, but in strict adherence to the composer’s wishes.

It was an indication of conductor Antonio Pappano’s unfailing attention to detail.

He ensured that we heard genuine pianissimos and triple fortes.”   …..

Review by Christopher Thomas, MusicWeb:


…   “It’s a quote that could equally be applied to Anglo-Italian Antonio Pappano, whose magnificently colourful account of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in the second half of this concert drew an inspired response from the orchestra and brought a proportion of the audience to its feet in Symphony Hall.
  Pappano’s mere presence in front of the orchestra seemed to ignite its Italian passion, drawing a sound that was uniquely theirs as its bloom and hues of burnished gold called to mind the Roman sun that has been an ever present part of the orchestra’s existence since its inception in 1885.    […]

[…] Berezovsky plays with an almost complete absence of gestural histrionics, his body rarely moving as he powered his way with magnificent weight and purpose through the outer movements. Yet as a result the stark contrast of the Quasi Adagio proved to be all the more impressive, with the pianist’s sensitivity and nuance of colour and shade marking his playing out as a shining example of textural control and contrast.

Pappano’s “Titan” cleansed the soul like a breath of fresh alpine air; invigorating, bitter-sweet, joyous and ultimately life affirming, the beauty of the sound Pappano drew from his forces was a thing of wonder, directed with understated yet always compelling gestures in the third movement and clear, intensely focused precision and communicative clarity in the stormy Finale. ”   …

 Review for same programme, different venue, by Edward Seckerson, Independent:


…   “Those strings sang the second subject of the finale like a bel canto aria and I liked Pappano’s volatile way with the big tempo contrasts. It was bold, big-hearted, a little rash, thoroughly Mahlerian.”

Review for same programme, different venue, by Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource:


…   “Thus the dawning and distance (trumpets ideally far-away) that breathes Mahler 1 into life were palpably atmospheric, the listener drawn in to a performance that was deliciously buoyant, delicately traced, shimmering, unforced in climaxes (but with no lack of heft) and earthy, bucolic and macabre as required – full marks for having a solo double bass at the beginning of the third movement (the use of tutti basses, a fairly recent Mahlerian tweak, now discredited). The finale erupted as it should, but was always generated from within, the slower music then teased by Pappano and played ravishingly by the strings (violins ideally antiphonal), but no mere interludes.”   …

Nordic Odyssey


Thursday 10 March 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Michael Seal  conductor
Laurence Jackson  violin

Sibelius: The Oceanides 10′
Nielsen: Violin Concert 35′
Sørensen: Exit Music (UK Premiere) 13′
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 31′ Listen
requires Real Player

A glowing sunrise, a flight of swans, the endless stillness of the great
northern forests…different listeners have heard many things in
Sibelius’s Fifth. But you don’t have to see any images at all to be
overwhelmed by the freshness, the beauty and the elemental power of
this majestic 20th century symphony. It’s the climax of a concert that
positively surges with the forces of nature, from Sibelius’s luminous
Mediterranean seascape, through Nielsen’s wonderfully original violin
concerto (a splendid showcase for CBSO leader Laurence Jackson)
and a freshly-minted classic by one of Denmark’s most accessible
contemporary masters. Conductor Ilan Volkov has gripped CBSO
audiences in Mahler and Shostakovich; expect passionately committed
performances of this supremely original music.

We regret to announce that Ilan Volkov, who was due to conduct this concert, has withdrawn due to illness. We are very grateful to Michael Seal, CBSO Associate Conductor, who has agreed to conduct the concert at short notice. There is no change to the advertised programme. www.cbso.co.uk

Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:


…   “Here we have a consummate soloist, always giving his all with exquisite tone, immaculate intonation and breathtaking imagination.”  […]

[…]  Finally to round off an epic evening a no-holds-barred performance of Sibelius’ Symphony No 5, beginning with pristine intonation from winds, then onto shimmering immaculate unison strings in the scherzo. From buzzing violas, faultless pizzicatos and hardly audible CBSO pianissimos – wonderful in Symphony Hall –to the devastating heart-pounding climax after the triumphant key change in the finale. This was a performance to remember.”

Rating * * * * *

Bell and Isserlis Play Brahms

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Sat 5 Mar 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Joshua Bell  violin
Steven Isserlis  cello

Haydn Symphony No 13 20’
Mendelssohn Symphony No 4, Italian 28’
Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello 32’

Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis join forces in the radiant lyricism of Brahms’s Double Concerto. In addition Joshua Bell directs Mendelssohn’s exuberant Italian Symphony, and Steven Isserlis conducts Haydn’s Symphony No 13 – a delightful exercise in youthful high spirits.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:
“A musical tour de force with two celebrated soloists who are also accomplished at conducting and directing. The Brahms Double Concerto should be a treat to behold.” www.thsh.co.uk

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:


…   “It was a pity he faced the orchestra for three movements, as it made his own playing redundant; but his full-frontal rendition of the Adagio’s meltingly lovely cello solo more than compensated.

In some ways this was the high spot of the evening. The Andante of Brahms’s Concerto for Violin and Cello (with conductor Ian Brown in charge) came a close second and was beautifully shaped. Both soloists brought passionate energy to the other movements, even in those passages where Brahms’s inspiration seems to have deserted him.”    …

CBSO, Andris Nelsons, Richard Strauss CD

R. Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie

Strauss, Richard –

Eine Alpensinfonie, Op.64 and Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils

To be released 28th March 2011, though some copies available from THe SHop at Symphony Hall, now!

Buy online: http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Orfeo/C833111A


Review by Geoffrey Norris, Telegraph:


“From the dark opening to the sunlit blazes on the mountaintop, Nelsons’s approach to Strauss’s Alpine Symphony is sharply defined, the textures malleable yet tightly controlled and the music animated with passion. The CBSO plays gloriously both in the symphony and in the sultriness and wild excess of Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils.” Rating: * * * *

Dancing in the Streets

Tuesday 1 March 2011 at 7.30pm

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

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Carlos Kalmar  conductor
Steven Osborne  piano

Adams: The Chairman Dances 12′
Bernstein: West Side Story – Symphonic Dances 23′
Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain 23′
Gershwin: An American in Paris 17′

From Gershwin tapping through the streets of jazz-age Paris, to John
Adams imagining Mao Zedong and Madame Mao in a show-stopping
foxtrot – there’s no denying that American composers have got rhythm!
South American-born conductor Carlos Kalmar knows all about that,
and tonight he leads the CBSO on a high-kicking celebration of the
American way of dance. Expect some serious Latin flair in Bernstein’s
West Side Story dances, the smokiest of blues in An American in
Paris, and – at the heart of the programme – something completely
different. The superb British pianist Steven Osborne should bring just
the right mixture of poetry and panache to Falla’s enchanted,
shimmering Nights in the Gardens of Spain begun in 1911. www.cbso.co.uk 

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


“Anyone who says they “don’t like 20th-century music” should have been at Tuesday’s CBSO concert, from which they would have emerged smiling in acquiescence at its sheer approachability.

This was a programme to die for, beginning with a tautly driven account of John Adams’ The Chairman Dances under the decisive baton of Carlos Kalmar.”   …


Review for this programme at Bridgewater Hall, by Michael Cookson, MusicWeb: