Ravel in Spain

Tuesday 7 June 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Anna Stephany mezzo
Bonaventura Bottone tenor
Jeffrey Stewart tenor
Andrew Shore bass
Johannes Weisser baritone

Ravel: L’heure espagnole (sung in French with English surtitles) 45′
Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole 15′
Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte 6′ Listen
requires Real Player
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso 7′
Ravel: Boléro 14′

The mule-driver, the clockmaker, his wife and her lover. Give them an hour, throw them together in a roomful of clocks, and… well, over to Maurice Ravel! L’heure espagnole is the result; a deliriously seductive French farce, drenched with Spanish passion and glittering with wit. Andris Nelsons has always loved it – and if you caught his concert performances of La Bohème, you’ll know that he just needs to raise his baton to transform Symphony Hall into a great opera house. But that’s just the first half of our all-Ravel, all-Spanish spectacular. “He’s mad!” declared one of Boléro’s first listeners – but these days, it’s the audience that goes crazy for those blazing colours and unstoppable rhythms. www.cbso.co.uk

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


…     “But the icing on these bonnes-bouches was Ravel’s Bolero, beginning with a tiny pianissimo from a snare-drummer, and building through layers of orchestral choreography. This is a piece-and-a-half, and Nelsons and his willing players did it the justice it deserves.”     …

Rating: * * * *

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:


…     “Throughout, one had the feeling of an intense emotional heat just under Ravel’s beautifully lacquered surfaces – especially at the ending of the last movement, when just for a moment the expressionist frenzy of La Valse could be glimpsed.

At moments like this, Ravel’s expressive world seemed as weighty as anyone’s; but it took a performance as urgent and engaged as this one to reveal it.”

Review by Geoff Read, SeenAndHeard:


…     “The final piece, Boléro, is not one of my favourite compositions. But it’s one thing to hear it on CD; hearing it ‘live’ in a good venue like the Birmingham Symphony Hall, presented the work in a new light. With so many opportunities for instrumental spotlighting it must be a popular piece among orchestral players. Ravel regarded it as his masterpiece ‘a piece for orchestra without music’, picking out the insistency of its simple theme and orchestrating it to an extent few composers have equalled. Nelsons and the CBSO were literally and figuratively up to speed with it. The maestro’s dynamic control that began at pp with snare drum, plucked cellos and violas, climaxing as loud as possible with the entire orchestra over thirty-six staves, was consummate. Whilst the whole orchestra warranted praise, some of the parts that grabbed me were: the solo flute of Marie-Christine Zupancic that announced the theme; the discordant strumming of Johnston and Séline Saout on harps; the heightening of tension from the syncopated high bassoon of Tuls; the colours produced by the E flat clarinet of Joanna Patton and the oboe d’amore of Katie Bennington; the jazzy style of Edward Jones on trombone; the entry of the violin sections ably led by Zoë Beyers and their double-stopping.”     …


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