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.”   …

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