The Planets

Wednesday 15 February 2012 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Edward Gardner conductor
Sarah Fox soprano
Pamela Helen Stephen mezzo
Kostas Smoriginas bass
CBSO Chorus

Dukas: La Péri 19′
Szymanowski: Stabat Mater 23′ Listen on Spotify
Holst: The Planets 55′ Listen on Spotify

Strange new worlds… Holst’s Planets Suite isn’t just famous for great tunes like Jupiter and Mars; it’s a musical odyssey to infinity and beyond, filled with sounds of jaw-dropping strangeness and beauty. It’ll be a dazzling showcase for the CBSO’s superb young principal guest conductor Edward Gardner – and he’ll be our guide on two more fantastic journeys: Szymanowski’s ravishing Stabat Mater written in the 1920s, and the sensuous oriental dreamscape of Dukas’s La Péri, part of our celebration of the year 1912.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…    “Gardner’s accounts of all three works were startlingly vivid, and every section of the CBSO played superbly for him. His account of La Péri, complete with the rather incongruous opening fanfare that some conductors omit, was the biggest treat, its textures glitteringly iridescent, its climaxes overwhelming. The Syzmanowski was held slightly in check and emerged as refined rather than robust, though the clarity of the soloists – soprano Sarah Fox, mezzo Pamela Helen Stephen and bass-baritone Kostas Smoriginas – was obviously one of the benefits of Gardner’s care for every texture and line. The CBSO Chorus even managed to get some of the words of the Polish text across.

There was a brisk directness about The Planets, too, as if Gardner were intent on demonstrating how fundamentally un-English Holst’s score really is.”     …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Then, for the ensuing “poeme danse” the orchestra came up trumps with sinuous, writhing woodwind, strings voluptuously yearning and fluttering (the violins crowning the wonderful main theme with the most glorious rendering of its countermelody I have ever heard), percussion colourful and teasing.

The ending is quietly magical, as is that of Szymanowski’s ‘Stabat Mater’, a work whose medievalism actually imparts a timeless quality, and whose clearly-defined musical units make it cohere like a mosaic.

Gardner, such an enthusiast for Polish music, brought his natural operatic flair to this account, presiding over penetrating yet thoughtful contributions from vocal soloists Sarah Fox, Pamela Helen Stephen and Kostas Smoriginas, and relishing the legendary expertise of the CBSO Chorus, not only in the often Mussorgkyan and Stravinskyan choral textures, but also in their impeccable Polish delivery.”     …

Conductor Edward Gardner delights in the energy of the CBSO – Click here for Birmingham Post Article by Christopher Morley

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