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.”

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:

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…     “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


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