Wagner’s Ring: Die Walküre

Wagner’s Ring: Die Walküre

Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12

Part of Symphony Hall 21st Anniversary Festival… more events…

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12… more events…

Saturday 30 June

Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall logo
 

Opera North
Alwyn Mellor Sieglinde
Annalena Persson Brunnhilde
Erik Nelson Werner Siegmund
Béla Perencz Wotan
Katarina Karnéus Fricka
Clive Bayley Hunding
Katherine Broderick Helmwige
Meeta Raval Ortlinde
Miriam Murphy Gerhilde
Jennifer Johnston Waltraute
Madeleine Shaw Siegrune
Catherine Hopper Rossweisse
Antonia Sotgiu Grimgerde
Emma Carrington Schwertleite
Richard Farnes conductor
Dame Anne Evans artistic consultant
Peter Mumford concert staging and lighting/projection design

Erik Nelson Werner replaces Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts in the role of Siegmund.

Wagner Die Walküre  

This concert has a running time of c. 5 hours 30 minutes including two intervals:

Act 1: 66’

Interval 30’

Act 2: 94’

Interval 60’

Act 3: 73’

Opera North is joined by an outstanding international cast for the second instalment of their four-year Ring cycle. In Die Walküre the focus shifts from the politics of the gods to human passion. As the epic saga unfolds, we meet the ill-fated children of the gods, discover the magical sword that will forever shape their destiny, and encounter the fearsome Valkyries whose legendary ride has never sounded more exciting than here in its original context.

Concert performance sung in German with English surtitles. Please note surtitles may not be visible from every seat. Symphony Hall is a large hall and surtitles can be harder to read from the Grand Tier. To be sure of best visibility, book seats in centre stalls, centre circle or centre upper circle or check with box office before booking.

One of a series of Wagner’s greatest operas, performed in the space of 6 months as part of Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary Festival.
The Royal Opera: Die Meistersinger – Wednesday 11 January
Tristan und Isolde – Saturday 3 March
Good Friday: Gergiev conducts Parsifal – Friday 6 April

www.thsh.co.uk

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Blog post by RestrictedView, Recitative:

Click here for full review

…     “That Wotan was quite a revelation. Hungarian bass-baritone Béla Perencz had a large, resonant voice and bags of dramatic oomph to lavish on the role. His anger in Act 3 was as formidable as his farewell was touching. Katarina Karnéus started out seeming slightly underpowered as Wotan’s hectoring but entirely reasonable wife, Fricka. However, by the time of her hymn she was launching a fearless attack on him, relishing the drama of the confrontation, and thoroughly enjoying her triumph over Brünnhilde. Clive Bayley had the equal measure of Hunding’s bluster and danger, using a voice of quite astonishing size to project it to the furthest reaches of Symphony Hall (and had a door been left open probably most of the West Midlands). Siegmund was Erik Nelson Werner and it was a joy to have the lead principals completed by so strong a performance.”     …

 

Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

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…     “Wagner’s music was confidently handled by the Orchestra of Opera North and conducted by Richard Farnes.

And all of the singers rose to the challenge. Annalena Persson made a very human Brunnhilde, the Valkyrie who loses her divinity after understanding love for the first time and disobeying her father. We saw her defiant and then humble as she tried to appeal to the better nature of her father Wotan (Bela Perencz) but also very gentle and caring when she entered the world of mortals.”     …

 

Blog review by BH, Larkreviews:

Click here for full review

…     “The second instalment of Opera North’s semi-staged Ring Cycle came to Birmingham to a rapturous ovation. It was well deserved. In over half a century of Walküre performances, I can’t recall a line up of Valkyries as effective as that which hit us at the start of Act 3. Not only were the individual singers exemplary, but their combined strength, within the Symphony Hall acoustic, was thrilling in a way that is rarely true of the opera house.”     …

 

Reviews for performances elsewhere…

Review by Tim Ashley, Guardian (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Ron Simpson, WhatsOnStage (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Graham Rickson, TheArtsDesk (for performance at Leeds Town Hall)

Click here for full review

Review by Sarah S Scott, ChronicleLive (for performance at Sage Gateshead)

Click here for full review

Summer Serenade

28 June 2012 at 2.15pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Laurence Jackson violin/director
Christopher Yates viola

Elgar: Serenade for Strings 12′
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola 30′
Barber: Adagio 7′ Listen on Spotify
Dvořák: Serenade for Strings 27′

Some music just says “summer”. Elgar and Dvorák both loved the countryside, and in their lovely Serenades for Strings, you can practically smell the blossom and hear the bees. The CBSO’s leader Laurence Jackson takes his colleagues through the kind of music that musicians love to play – and plays one of the solo parts in Mozart’s magnificent Sinfonia Concertante. And as for Barber’s Adagio – well, there’s a good reason why it features in so many “Relaxing Classics” albums. Enjoy!

 

Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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“This afternoon sees Chris Yates, co-principal viola with the CBSO, join forces with the orchestra’s concertmaster, Laurence Jackson, for a performance of one of Mozart’s greatest works (and therefore obviously one of the greatest works ever written), the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, K364.  […]

[…]    ““Now, what can I say about Andris’s time so far? It’s like a combination of his two predecessors for me. Flair, burning passion, exquisite intensity coupled with accuracy, hopefully. An unbeatable and almost unbearable sensory satisfaction. Could we ask for more?” “

London 2012 Festival Opening Concert

Thursday 21 June 2012 at 7.30pm

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

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Edward Gardner conductor
Samuel West narrator
CBSO Chorus
CBSO Youth Chorus
CBSO Children’s Chorus

Michael Seal associate conductor

Harvey: Weltethos (UK premiere) 90′

London FestivalThe world’s greatest music – made in Birmingham. On the opening night of the London 2012 Festival, we’re thrilled to present the latest masterpiece from Jonathan Harvey, one of the world’s greatest living composers, who was born in Sutton Coldfield. An epic choral work, Weltethos is inspired by the shared spiritual heritage of humanity and founded on texts from six of the world’s greatest religions: Confucianism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Expansive, visionary and awe-inspiringly beautiful, it’s a perfect way to kick off the nationwide celebrations in the summer of 2012. Join us to welcome the world and hear sounds like you’ve never heard before.

Click here to find out more about composer Jonathan Harvey and his music.  www.cbso.co.uk

Jonathan Harvey The British composer talks about his latest work Weltethos, which is based on texts from six of the world’s largest religions: Confucianism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.”

~ The Weekend StrandClick here to listen (from 14:10)

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Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full article

…     “The event here in Symphony Hall is the UK premiere of ‘Weltethos’ by the world-renowned Sutton Coldfield-born composer Jonathan Harvey, and which is a vast meditation on world peace. Principal guest conductor Edward Gardner directs the CBSO and 250 massed voices of the CBSO Chorus, Children’s and Youth Choruses, assisted by associate conductor Michael Seal; the actor Samuel West provides narration.”        …

Review by Diane Parkes, BehindtheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “The work is very tightly structured with each movement highlighting a different faith, looking at a theme, some background and quotes from the faith’s Holy Scriptures before returning to the central message – that only through peace can our children have a future in this world.

Each section in turn features a spoken part, delivered with perfect timing and gravity by actor Sam West, orchestral music which aims to reflect music linked to each tradition and choral pieces. These in turn are broken down into pieces sung by the CBSO’s Chorus, Youth Chorus and Children’s Chorus.”      …

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     There are some striking moments, especially when the words become indistinguishable and Harvey allows his mastery as a composer of electronic sounds to carry over into his manipulation of orchestra and choral textures, coloured by a huge range of percussion and the unmistakable tang of a cimbalom. The performances were exemplary, with superb choral singing in writing that ranges from whispered Sprechgesang, to fiercely dissonant clusters and close-packed tonal triads. It was a shame such a magnificent effort had to be squandered on so problematic a piece.”

Review by Anthony Tommasini, New York Times:

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…     “There is nothing vague or sentimental about the music in this sinewy, often frenetic and complex score, structured in six parts. The first section, “Humanity,” which explores Confucian thinking, begins with an orchestral prelude. Eerie sustained tones on the organ and pungent, soft cluster chords provide a backdrop to repetitive rhythms and twittering riffs for the large battery of percussion instruments. A speaker (here the actor Samuel West) then delivers Mr. Küng’s narrative about Confucius while the orchestra responds with restless bursts, piercing harmonies and grumbling ostinatos.

The chorus, as if contemplating what has just been said, whispers phrases back. When the chorus breaks into full-throated singing of a quotation from Confucius (“A man without humanity, what use to him is music?”), the orchestra swells with skittish counterpoint and pummeling percussion. This section ends with voices of children (the orchestra’s combined youth and children’s choruses) singing, “We have a future.” ”     …

Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard:

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…     “Weltethos is an ambitious work in every sense. The forces required are vast. The score calls for a speaker, large SATB choir, a children’s choir and a huge orchestra including an extravagantly large percussion section. Indeed, I can’t recall seeing so many percussion instruments assembled on stage, even for performances of some of Messiaen’s most grandiloquently-scored orchestral works. This massive ensemble, and the metrical and other complexities of the score, required two conductors working independently of each other, though the second conductor (Michael Seal) was not continuously involved. When both conductors were active it appeared that they were usually beating completely different tempi and directing separate elements of the ensemble.”     …

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

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…     “At the end, everything was gathered into a radiant affirmation over a deep pedal note. Here Harvey’s music seemed wiser than Küng’s text, its gentle tentativeness implying that the unity of world religions is a Utopian vision, which can’t be realised on this earth.”    

Review by Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource:

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…       “The performance itself was a tour de force of focus and commitment. In his informative and entertaining pre-concert talk, chorus master Simon Halsey pointed out that the various chorus-ensembles had spent six months rehearsing music conceived with professional singers in mind – which explained the frequently soloistic nature of the writing (up to 80 individual parts in some instances) and the difficulties (by no means insurmountable, as this performance confirmed) in projecting this over and against an orchestra which features some 10 percussionists in a virtually continuous role extensive even by the standards of this composer. No doubt there were failings and approximations, but what came across most forcefully was the intensity of the choral response – abetted by a no-less-impressive input from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner (who, as was confirmed by his recent account of The Dream of Gerontius, is wholly at ease with large-scale choral works), along with a typically thoughtful and eloquent showing by Samuel West.”     …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Never mind; the performance itself was stunning, Gardner and his movingly empathetic assistant conductor Michael Seal drawing an account of huge commitment, despite the paucity of reward for most involved.

The enthusiastic and so well-coached CBSO Youth Chorus and Children’s Chorus had the best of something well to get their teeth into, mantras about children’s hopes for the future.”     …

Sir Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic

Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12

Saturday 16th  June 2012

Symphony Hall

Vienna Philharmonic
Sir Simon Rattle conductor

Brahms Symphony No 3 33’
Webern Six Pieces for Orchestra 13’
Schumann Symphony No 3, Rhenish 32’
 

21 years since he conducted the opening concerts of Symphony Hall, Sir Simon Rattle returns at the helm of one of the world’s very greatest orchestras.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, recommends tonight’s concert: “Now this really is a wonderful programme. Just add Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic, and you’ll be in for one of the finest concert experiences of the season – anywhere.”     www.thsh.co.uk

Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “For the Schumann there was some reduction in the size of the strings – one desk less in each section. The first movement was played –and conducted – with energy, brio and good cheer; I loved the way the horns rang out heroically. At times the music fairly bounded along. In the past it was alleged by some that Schumann was a composer whose orchestral scoring was too thick; there was no evidence of that in this performance. The second movement had a nice outdoor feel to it; what I might call “cultivated rusticity”. It was clear that Rattle was thoroughly enjoying the music. He shaped the third movement beautifully and the VPO played it with great sensitivity. The fourth movement, inspired by Schumann’s visit to Cologne Cathedral was sonorous and noble and then, after this solemnity, Rattle figuratively took us out into the sunshine with a reading of the finale that radiated well-being and optimism.”     …

Review by Rohann Shotton, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Robert Schumann’s Rhenish symphony, third in publication but final in composition, is primarily a product of the Romantic era, but with frequent backward glances in its moments of crisp, Classical-style scoring. Its five movements were inspired by a visit to Cologne and the Rhine, though there is poignancy in this: slowly losing his mind, the composer attempted suicide by throwing himself into the river in 1854. The Rhenish, though, shows no signs of such strife. Rattle charged the grand first movement boldly and briskly, backed by some vigorous horn playing. The ‘Vienna horns’ used by this orchestra are reputably better suited to legato playing than conventional instruments and the section were in fine form this evening, warm and spacious in the first two movements and powering towards the symphony’s boisterous conclusion later on.”     …

 

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Some of Rattle’s shadings verged on the expressionistic, a trait there a-plenty in Webern’s Six Orchestral Pieces. These elliptical miniatures reward concentration upon every detail, every one of which was deftly pointed here, yet within an overall arching line. The standard orchestra was augmented by a huge influx of percussion kit. Extragavant regarding transportation costs? Perhaps; but the added-value of what we heard was immeasurable. So, finally, to Schumann’s ‘Rhenish’ Symphony (though catalogued as his third, in fact his final), its leaping, joyous soundscapes so vividly realised here. Horns are all-important to German Romantic-period music, and the VPO ones rose wonderfully to the challenge.”     …
***** 

 

Review by Colin Anderson, for same programme at Barbican Centre:

Click here for full review

Symphony Hall 21st Anniversary Concert

Tuesday 12 June 2012 at 7.30pm

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

Symphony Hall

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Simon Halsey conductor*
Christine Rice mezzo-soprano
Bryn Terfel bass-baritone
CBSO Chorus

Glinka: Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila 5′
Elgar: The Music Makers Op.69* 38′
Bizet: Les Toréadors from Carmen 4′
Donizetti: Udite, udite, o rustici from L’elisir d’amore 7′
Hazell: Folk songs from the British Isles 10′
Puccini: Te Deum from Tosca 5′
Ravel: Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloé 16′

Symphony Hall has been called one of the wonders of the musical world. Tonight, we toast its coming of age in the company of three more: Andris Nelsons, Simon Halsey, and the one and only Bryn Terfel. Halsey conducts the CBSO and its Chorus in the final, deeply personal masterpiece that Elgar wrote for Birmingham, before Terfel and Nelsons take the platform for a selection of arias, specially chosen to showcase Symphony Hall’s world-beating acoustic. Need we say more? A night to remember – make sure you’re there.

21st Annniversary Symphony HallThese concerts are promoted by THSH as part of the Birmingham International Concert Season / Symphony Hall 21st Anniversary Festival. A special seating plan and different discounts apply. Please check when booking by phone / in person. The concerts are not available as part of a Symphonic Selection Concert Package but can be booked in addition at the same time. www.thsh.co.uk

BBC Midlands Today film re Symphony Hall 21 – Click here

ITV Central film re Symphony Hall 21 – Click here

Video Wall Symphony Hall 21st Anniversary Concert – Click here

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Birmingham Symphony Hall Celebrates 21st Birthday”, by Jon Griffin, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full article

Birmingham concert venue Symphony Hall has celebrated its 21st birthday – after hosting 7,500 events attended by ten million people.

A concert featuring the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus marked Tuesday’s milestone as part of a seven month-long series of anniversary celebrations.

An array of top artists also paid tribute to the city centre venue, which was opened by the Queen on June 12, 1991.

Andris Nelsons and Simon Halsey conducted Tuesday night’s anniversary show featuring baritone Bryn Terfel and mezzo-soprano Christine Rice.”      …

 

“Simon Rattle’s Greatest Achievement”, by Norman Lebrecht:

Click here for full post

“Twenty-one years ago last night, Birmingham got its first dedicated concert hall and Britain its best. Symphony Hall was an acoustic revelation, a marvel of transparency and flexibility, as well as a space that felt infinitely warm and welcoming. It was, at the time, the most exciting modern hall in Europe and it remains one of the three or four most pleasing.”     …

“Birmingham Symphony Hall Celebrates  21 Years”, by Catherine Vonledebur, Birmingham Mail:

Click here for full article

…     “Officially opened by The Queen on June 12, 1991, the 2,262 seat Symphony Hall has held more than 7,500 events and attracted over 10 million visitors.

Since then, thousands of legendary artists have graced its stage from Bruce Springsteen to Yehudi Menuhin, Liza Minnelli to Grace Jones, Ravi Shankar to Morrissey, as well as some of the world’s greatest classical soloists and orchestras. Andrew believes it is the most important 20th Century building in Birmingham and helps make the city worth living in.”     …

 

 “Hall’s Milestone is Music to the Ears”, by Chris Willmott

Click here for full article

…     “The milestone was marked with a special evening concert on Tuesday and Wednesday from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Andris Nelsons and Simon Halsey, and featuring baritone Bryn Terfel and mezzo-soprano Christine Rice.

The performances included Elgar’s The Music Makers and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe suite.”     …
 

 

*****

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

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…      “Nelsons top and tailed the evening with orchestral showpieces, beginning with a blisteringly fast run through the overture to Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila, in which not a note was out of place. He ended with a wonderfully poised account of Ravel’s second Daphnis et Chloé Suite, exactly capturing its mixture of hazy sensuousness and brutal brilliance.

Nelsons also marshalled support for the concert’s star turn – Bryn Terfel at his most relaxed.”     …

Review by Jerald Smith, Express and Star:

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…    “This anniversary celebration provided a dazzling display of talent, most notably from Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel who showed how a gifted performer can work an audience.

He began with a swaggering version of the Toreador Song form Bizet’s Carmen and followed with Udite, Udite, O Rustica from Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore which extracted the maximum amount of humour from the aria.”     …

Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “Finally, Nelsons and his orchestra came into their own with the Second Suite from Daphnis et Chloé – another timely selection since this piece was played at the inaugural concert in Symphony Hall in April 1991 and, moreover, the Ballets Russes première was given on 8 June 1912. This was, quite simply, the performance of the evening. ‘Dawn’ was superb. The shimmering start was magically balanced by Nelsons. We heard chattering birds depicted by the CBSO woodwind section and voluptuous washes of orchestral colour, everything expertly controlled by the players and from the rostrum. When it came, the Daybreak was overwhelming, the CBSO Chorus showing why you can only do this music full justice in a performance that includes the choral parts. Nelsons held back the release of this climax in a masterly fashion to enhance its impact. The central ‘Pantomime’ was dominated by the superlative flute playing of Marie-Christine Zupancic, but if her virtuosity stood out due to the prominence of the flute part it was complemented by that of many of her colleagues in a dexterous and subtle performance of this ravishing but technically demanding music. The concluding ‘Danse Genérale’ was thrilling. Nelsons galvanised his players – and singers – into a virtuoso account of Ravel’s tumultuous, hedonistic music. In a few days time one of Nelson’s predecessors, Sir Simon Rattle, brings the Vienna Philharmonic to Symphony Hall. On this showing – which we know is far from untypical – the CBSO has little to fear from any comparisons.”     …

Review by Rian Evans, ClassicalSource:

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…     “The Ravel was the outstanding performance. Nelsons realised everything that is sensuous and lushly expansive in the score, while bringing an exquisite poise to the subtleties of Ravel’s orchestral palette and a lilting insouciance to the dance elements. The CBSO came into its own. Conductors and soloists were presented with bouquets, so metaphorical ones now to the flute section: to Marie-Christine Zupancic for her stunning solo, Andrew Lane for his piccolo playing, CBSO stalwart Colin Lilley for his alto flute solo, and not forgetting Elizabeth May. That their lines emerged with such vibrancy should also be a tribute to that Symphony Hall acoustic.”

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…    If Symphony Hall doesn’t have its music makers, then who has? And ‘Music Makers’ was the main work in the CBSO’s first concert in the newly-refurbished Town Hall, elderly sister to the blushing young Symphony Hall.

Simon Halsey conducted, drawing from his world-class CBSO Chorus diction of consummate clarity and well-weighted tonal balance, and, often concentrating on the orchestra (the Chorus had already been well-trained beyond concern), revealing wonderful detail and securing flowing, often surprisingly swift, and appropriate tempi.

Christine Rice was the mezzo soloist, her tones warm and compassionate, her lower registers conveying rocklike solidity, her emotional involvement total.”     …

 

Review by Katherine Dixson, Bachtrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The second half began with the audience exploding into applause once a certain larger-than-life Welshman set foot on – no, took possession of – the stage. Bryn Terfel’s programme was perfectly judged, with fun, laughter, flirtatiousness, intrigue, menace and drama, as well as a sense of place with a sequence of British folk songs. The power of his voice and command of the music was a given, but what I hadn’t bargained for was the sheer force of his personality. His rapport with the audience was phenomenal, with eye contact, gesture and overwhelming warmth. Clearly, he enjoyed working with the other performers, and a lovely detail at the end of the Toreador’s Song was his saluting the men’s chorus by the flick of an imaginary matador’s cape. Bryn and Andris struck up quite a partnership in the aria ‘Udite, udite’ from L’elisir d’amore. ‘Dr Dulcamara’ brought on an innocuous bottle of beer which he playfully discarded near the conductor’s feet, only to bring out a fearsome brew from his back pocket. With apparently effortless ease the tongue-twisting catalogue of ailments was dispatched, upon which the serious bottle was cracked open and downed in one, Andris watching intently (thirstily?) and directing the orchestra to sustain the note until the last drop . A pantomime drunken high five between soloist and conductor added to the general glee. ”     …

The Spirit of Defiance

Thursday 7 June 2012 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Baiba Skride violin

Gubaidulina: Violin Concerto (Offertorium) 40′ Listen on Spotify
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 52′

We regret that, due to ill-health, the pre-concert talk scheduled for 6.15pm has been cancelled.

The Soviet censors called it an “optimistic tragedy”. Shostakovich simply called it his Tenth Symphony. Dark, impassioned, packed with secret messages and featuring a terrifying musical portrait of Stalin himself, Shostakovich’s Tenth is one of the most powerful of all twentieth-century symphonies. Andris Nelsons’s first Birmingham performance of this modern masterpiece will be keenly awaited -and the young Latvian violinist Baiba Skride is fast becoming a Birmingham favourite too. Sofia Gubaidulina’s Bach-inspired Concerto, written in defiance of Soviet oppression, makes a wonderfully apt prelude to Shostakovich’s epic drama.

Find out what our musicians love about this music – watch music director Andris Nelsons and associate conductor Michael Seal discussing Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10.

To listen to some of the music in this concert, and explore the rest of the season, using our Spotify playlists, click here.

Post-concert chat – c9.45pm
Stay late for a post-concert conversation with Andris Nelsons and Stephen Maddock.

Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Written originally for Gidon Kremer in 1980 it was fascinating to realise that tonight’s young Latvian soloist, Baiba Skride, was playing a 1734 Stradivarius on loan from Kremer. A brave lady to tackle such an intricate, taxing work with total confidence and breath-taking composure. Un-fazed by demanding cadenzas, swooping portamenti,exacting double-stopping, almost inaudible harmonics, relief came at last with exquisitely gentle long velvety phrases. Tolling bells eventually lulled the imagination with symbolic gestures towards orthodox faith, firmly discounting Russian dictatorship.

Andris Nelsons was obviously in his element conducting his first Birmingham performance of the Shostakovitch Symphony No 10: a significant showpiece subtly reflecting the uncertainty and fears prevalent at the time.”     …

***** 

Review by David Hard, Birmingham Post (for Saturdays’ concert which included the Shostakovich 10)

Click here for full review

…         Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10 (first heard on Thursday) went beyond exciting to become a stunning, overwhelming experience. Apart from the quality of the playing – awesomely sonorous and peppered with brilliant solos (a frequent Shostakovich metaphor for the conflict between individual and state) – Nelsons showed complete understanding of the work’s emotional agenda.

Often intense and disturbing, especially in the long opening Moderato (which Nelson took nearly 25 minutes to unfold) and coruscating militaristic second movement, it was all so powerfully shaped, paced and thrillingly executed that, when the finale’s moment of triumph eventually came, we felt both drained and gloriously uplifted.”

*****