Opening Concert: Mahler’s Resurrection

Saturday 15 September 2012 at 7.00pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0603

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Sarah Fox soprano
Mihoko Fujimura mezzo-soprano
CBSO Chorus

Strauss: Metamorphosen 26′
Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) 77′ Listen on Spotify

Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony starts with a funeral march, and finishes with the end of the world itself. And if that sounds like a spectacular opening to our season, just wait till you hear Andris Nelsons, a super-size CBSO and the massed voices of the CBSO Chorus committing body and soul to some of the most thrilling, heart-lifting music ever composed. Richard Strauss’s impassioned wartime masterpiece makes Mahler’s vision shine even more brightly. After this summer’s residency at the prestigious Lucerne Festival, this is sure to be a momentous opening to the CBSO season.

Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard:

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…      “Amid much distinguished and eloquent playing the sinuous contributions of leader Laurence Jackson regularly stood out. Nelsons kept the music moving forward with good purpose so that warmth of phrasing never slipped over into sentimentality. As the piece progressed he built the tension incrementally until the music achieved a final climax of great ardour before sinking back to a hushed yet intense conclusion. Nelsons and the CBSO are making a series of recordings of the orchestral music of Strauss and I hope they’ll include Metamorphosen.     […]

[…]     Nelsons unleashed the vast finale most excitingly and then proceeded to direct a splendidly theatrical, gripping account of this huge symphonic fresco. The offstage recesses of Symphony Hall are ideal for the offstage brass contributions and these came across to excellent effect here. It seemed to me that Nelson’s pacing of the finale was ideal, both in terms of individual episodes and the overall structure. The main allegro episode found the CBSO playing as if their lives depended on it; this was real edge-of-the seat stuff and it led to a climax immediately before the groβe Appell that was truly cataclysmic. The groβe Appell itself is a moment of pure musical theatre and it was splendidly realised here; the offstage brass calls – the Last Trump – echoed with a proper sense of awe and Marie-Christine Zupancic’s flute provided the nightingale’s last flickerings of earthly life.”     …

Review by Rohan Shotton, BachTrack:

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…     “The intensity seemed to grow with every phase early on, each one meticulously sculpted. The balance between entwining solo lines and ensemble playing was perfect, each player giving the impression of knowing the score closely enough to recognise where the next solo line would appear from and when to lock into tight togetherness.”     […]

[…]     Another thunderous outburst announced the fifth movement, and the ensuing gentle introduction to the Resurrection Hymn’s perfect fifth motif and ascending five-note scale was treated with magical reverence. As in the opening movement, Nelsons’ fine command of architecture shaped a coherent path to the conclusion, past jubilant fanfare outbursts and earthquake rumbles from the percussion section. A particularly pleasing moment came when the offstage trumpets played from high up on both sides of the hall, giving a curious sense of cathedral-like space. The entry of the seated chorus was beautifully sung, and soprano Sarah Fox’s voice emerged gently from the choral sound with excellent control. Nelsons pushed onward to the final climactic proclamation of resurrection with much lunging and leaping. When it arrived, one could almost feel the wind from the vast forces, with chorus, organ and offstage brass at full pelt. It was a monumental, shattering conclusion to a magnificent performance, leaving grown men dabbing at their eyes amid the cheers.”     *****

Review by Diane Parkes, BehindtheArras:

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…     “And half measures will not do – the symphony calls for exact attention to detail, real passion for music and sweeping volume levels which range from the light and playful waltz to the thundering finale.

There was little doubt that under the baton of CBSO music director Andris Nelsons, CBSO mastered this masterpiece. The minutes raced by so that when the finale arrived it was almost a surprise the time had passed so quickly.

The CBSO Chorus was equally at home with the piece from the gentle susurrations calling for eternal life to the victorious climax of resurrection.”     …



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “And at the end, a standing ovation, and the players’ heartwarming refusal to steal any of their beloved conductor’s thunder. Applause from a packed audience and all performers was all directed at this one man, whose genuine enthusiasm, unflashy brilliance and boundless musicality continues to reinforce the consolidation of the CBSO as a major force on the world stage.”

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