Wednesday 14 November 2012 at 7.30pm
Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0603
Jac van Steen conductor
Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra (1909 original version) 16′ Listen on Spotify
Mahler: Symphony No. 7 84′
Mahler called it his “song of the night”, and it’s true: the Seventh is a Mahler symphony like no other. It begins in a boat on an Alpine lake and ends with trumpets aloft in blazing, roof-raising celebration – but along the way there are distant bugles, moonlit serenades and spinechilling horror. It’s fantastic, and it’ll sound like a dream under the baton of renowned guest conductor Jac van Steen – who opens the concert with a revolutionary masterpiece premiered in 1912 by Mahler’s most devoted fan. With an oversize orchestra and a kaleidoscope of colours and textures, Schoenberg looks decisively towards a brave new musical world – and sheds fresh light on Mahler’s own futuristic vision. www.cbso.co.uk
Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:
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… “The mood of the symphony changes decisively and positively in Nachtmusik II, a warm and affectionate piece. Here Mahler reinforces his vast orchestra with mandolin and guitar. These instruments were carefully positioned on the platform so that their contributions were audible. There was great refinement in the CBSO’s playing, not least from leader, Laurence Jackson. Fired by this new mood of positivity the finale erupts in bright C major. This movement has often been criticised and there’s no doubt that it can seem weak and/or ramshackle. Jac van Steen’s solution was a simple but effective one: he really went for it, galvanising the orchestra into playing that had huge energy and high spirits. The movement is, by turns, delicate and tumultuous and both sides of the music were superbly delivered in a vibrant sharply etched performance.
With the CBSO on top form and an expert conductor at the helm I enjoyed this performance of Mahler’s Seventh greatly and got more from it than has been the case on most occasions that I’ve heard the work. The CBSO seemed to relish Mr van Steen’s work on their podium: I hope it won’t be long before he’s invited back to Birmingham.” …
Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
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“The CBSO have a wonderful ritual whenever their beloved music director Andris Nelsons conducts them. At the end of a concert they refuse to stand at his exhortation, remaining instead firmly in their seats as they applaud him with warmth, gratitude and affection.
Last Wednesday Dutch conductor Jac van Steen was granted a similar accolade from the players at the end of a remarkable programme of early 20th-century music featuring a huge orchestra. Listeners to the live BBC Radio-3 broadcast will have missed this touching visual but will certainly have enjoyed what they heard. Thanks to the Rattle days the CBSO have Mahler’s Seventh Symphony (certainly his most difficult to bring off) firmly under their fingers, and this performance was yet another marvellous one to add to the list.” …