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.”



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