Cosmic Dances

Thursday 28 March 2013 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Diego Matheuz  conductor

Johannes Moser  electric cello

Moncayo: Huapango  8′

Chapela: Magnetar (CBSO co-commission: European premiere) 25′

Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (highlights) 50′

Johannes Moser

They  call it “El Sistema”: the Latin American phenomenon that’s got the whole world  of classical music dancing with excitement. Tonight, we welcome one of its most  brilliant graduates, Diego Matheuz, for an evening of vibrant, toe-tapping energy,  including a riotous Mexican dance-off, and the European premiere of an astonishing  new showpiece by the Mexican composer Enrico Chapela – for electric cello! Powerful,  dramatic, and heart-breakingly passionate, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet should make just as many sparks fly.   www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “Matheuz’s debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony also introduced an unfamiliar Latin American composer, with the European premiere of the Mexican Enrico Chapela‘s Magnetar, a concerto for electric cello first performed in 2011 in Los Angeles. It was tailor-made for Johannes Moser, who was the stylish soloist with the CBSO, with the composer seated next to him controlling the balance and myriad effects that can be obtained from the skeletal instrument. Though the piece was inspired by astrophysics – magnetars are a form of neutron star, the most intensely magnetic objects in the universe – it turns out to be an easily digestible, straightforward three-movement work, a mix of woozy lyrical lines and driving figuration, given a slightly exotic edge by the electronics.”     …

 

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Review by John Gough, Birmingham Post:

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…     “There were many influences at work here yet everything was successfully  integrated into a satisfying three movement structure with an enormous range of  textures, balanced between orchestra and soloist, and allowing for all sorts of  novel timbres and effects. Lyrical moments sat next to rock riffs, episodes of  cool jazz met Dr Who type sound effects, yet everything convinced us that the  work was an effective whole. The Herculean soloist Johannes Moser, played with  panache and musicality, while the composer, discreetly seated behind him on the  platform, operated the sound altering electronics. An intriguing and imaginative  work.”     …
*****

 

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Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “Conducted by the 28-year-old Diego Matheuz, a graduate of the El Sistema school of music, the programme was packed full of energy.

Beginning with Huapango by Mexican composer Jose Pablo Moncayo it threw us straight into Spanish mode. The piece is short but lively, inspired by Mexican dance songs and full of rhythm which encourages you to toe-tap before heading for a Tequila or two and then braving the dance floor.

In many ways the star of the evening was the European premiere of Enrico Chapela’s Magnetar. Inspired by massive magnetic fields in outer space, the piece aims to be cosmic in scope.”     …

 

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Beethoven and Bruckner

Beethoven Piano Concerto No 4

Andsnes and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

Part of Three Great European Orchestras… more events…

Part of The Birmingham Beethoven Cycle… more events…

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2012/13… more events…

Tuesday 26th March

Symphony Hall

Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

Herbert Blomstedt conductor

Leif Ove Andsnes piano

Beethoven   Piano Concerto No 4 35’
Bruckner   Symphony No 4, Romantic 64’

Leif Ove Andsnes’ encore – Chopin – Waltz in A Flat, Op.34, No 1

Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester

The Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester is a ‘youth orchestra’ like none other: it comprises the crème de la crème of young European musicians at the outset of their careers, and it is a finishing school and feeder for Europe’s very best orchestras. With the great Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven’s most poetic piano concerto alongside the visionary grandeur of Bruckner’s lofty ‘Romantic’ Symphony, conducted by Herbert Blomstedt, this will be a very special concert indeed.

… a thoroughbred among youth orchestras… the ensemble balances the mature skill of professionals with the urgency that comes only from young musicians. New Statesman, 2011

… the most comprehensively fulfilling Prom of the entire batch I have attended… a five-star winner from beginning to end… the whole performance was riveting… What a pure joy it was, an inspired evening and one to cherish. Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph 2011.   www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “This was followed by Bruckner’s Symphony No 4 which gave the young performers every opportunity to flex their musical muscles. The ‘Romantic’ symphony is challenging for any orchestra but the GMJO played it with apparent ease. Conductor Herbert Blomstedt ensured the piece was mastered with a level of maturity well beyond their years.

And the sheer enthusiasm for the piece also shone through ensuring a glowing response from the audience.”     …

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Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “As for the playing, it was consistently fine. The track record of this orchestra is that many of its alumni go on to play in Europe’s leading orchestras and on this evidence it’s easy to see why. The brass playing was notable firstly for its consistent splendour but secondly – and just as importantly – for the fact that the brass never overplayed their hand so as to dominate the textures more than Bruckner intended: these players may be young but they’re anything but immature – and they’ve been expertly coached. The horns are crucial in this symphony and the section – and its principal – played with distinction. Above all, however, it was the string section that, time and again, caught the ear. There was a satisfying depth of tone but the sound was never so rich as to be corpulent.”     …

 

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Where does all the freshness go? So many professional  orchestras (Birmingham being a notable exception) and freelance scratch pick-up  outfits seem to have lost the gift of communicating joy in music-making. 

It’s left to youth orchestras to remind us just how  precious a gift this is: it’s not a job, it’s a portal to wonderment.

And wow, didn’t the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester radiate  such life-enhancement on Tuesday.

It’s not so long ago that the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove  Andsnes was himself a young buck. Now he distils a wisdom in performance which  spread to the whole orchestra in a deeply poetic account of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.”     …

*****

The Birminghan Beethoven Cycle: Symphonies 6 and 7

Wednesday 20 March 2013 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor

Laurence Jackson  violin

Beethoven: Romance No. 1 7′ Listen on Spotify

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral) 40′ Listen on Spotify

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7  36′ Listen on Spotify

From spring-fresh opening to serene finish, there’s no experience in music more life-affirming than Beethoven’s lovely Pastoral Symphony. And there’s none more gloriously, exuberantly, physical than his unstoppable Seventh. Andris Nelsons’ journey through Beethoven’s symphonies reaches two of the most enduringly popular masterpieces in all music; an evening of happiness and deep feeling, with – at its heart – a gentle showcase for one of Birmingham’s bestloved artists, the CBSO’s very own Laurence Jackson.

This concert is sold out. The CBSO and Andris Nelsons perform Beethoven’s Symphonies  Nos 8 & 9 (Choral) on 27 & 29 June, or enjoy an Italian-inspired programme including Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony with Andris Nelsons on 8 & 9 May.

A fresh look at Beethoven’s Symphonies – Andris Nelsons & the CBSO Part of The Birmingham Beethoven Cycle, click here to see the full Cycle guide.

Sponsored by BarclaysThe  Birmingham Beethoven Cycle is being supported by Barclays and through the generosity  of Miss Brant, a lifelong supporter of the CBSO who died recently.

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Review by Rohan Shotton, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Andris Nelsons continued his Beethoven cycle with deeply personal and thrilling accounts of the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies to a sold-out Symphony Hall. […]

[…]      The third and fourth movements gave hints of the aggression which would later be found in the Seventh. The rural dance of the third was brisk and vigorous. Doubled up for the evening, the horns in particular skipped along boisterously, though principal Elspeth Dutch’s solos showed a beautifully legato tone. This gave way to a brutal storm, high drama which was vividly reminiscent of the same orchestra’s Flying Dutchman performance four days ago. Nelsons handled the transition to the finale with consummate care, easing into it with sublime gentleness. His micro-pauses and subtleties of phrasing were carried off with full commitment from all and with smiles passing around the string section. It was still forward-looking and full-bodied for the most part, and came to a close with glowing warmth.”

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “This was a reading where rhythmic propulsion was coloured by  brilliantly-shaded dynamics, where phrases were given a sweep which gave the  music a life of its own, where individual contributions were never listen-to-me  obtrusive but slotted into the life-enhancing texture of music where words are  inadequate.

Joyous, yes, but with a slow movement which caught the breath.

And Nelsons, sometimes not even hectoring with a beat, probed so naturally  and instinctively to the heart of this wondrous work.”

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Review by Fiona Maddocks, Observer:

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“Another Beethoven cycle? Not for Andris Nelsons. This is his first. He and his City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra reached the Sixth and Seventh symphonies this week, with one concert left to go. After the breathless, bacchanalian frenzy which brought No 7 to a close and many in the capacity audience to their feet, it was clear something remarkable had taken place. I had to remind myself that “wow” is not yet acceptable in the critical lexicon except on Twitter.

Time and again the Latvian maestro urged the orchestra to their feet. Repeatedly they refused to budge, banging on their stands, stamping on the floor. You might think that he, not they, had made the phenomenal sounds we had just heard. In the end Nelsons wiped his brow and looked bemused, as if to acknowledge that, yes, perhaps after all he played some part in the alchemy. He took his bow, waving his hands like wings as if trying to embrace his entire orchestra.”     …

The Flying Dutchman

Saturday 16 March 2013 at 7.00pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor

Jennifer Wilson  Senta

Jane Henschel  Mary

Arnold Bezuyen  Erik

Nicky Spence  Steersman

James Rutherford  Dutchman

Alastair Miles  Daland

CBSO Chorus 

Wagner: The Flying Dutchman 135′

In the teeth of the storm, a sea captain shakes his fist at the devil – and is cursed to roam the seas until doomsday. Only love can save him, but in a small Norwegian village, a young girl has started to dream of a pale stranger… The Flying Dutchman was Wagner’s breakthrough hit, and with its infectiously hummable tunes, it’s the ideal Wagner opera for first-timers. But with Andris Nelsons giving his all to the composer he loves more than any other, in his 200th anniversary year this spectacular concert performance should be unmissable for the aficionados, too.

There will be one interval of 20 minutes between acts one and two.     www.cbso.co.uk

Review by Rohan Shotton, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Another key part in the opera’s more dramatic moments was the excellent CBSO Chorus. Their close support of the soloists’ material was frequently apparent. They remained seated when echoing the Dutchman during his first appearance, creating a wonderfully ethereal pianissimo, and the ladies’ expression of hope that the Dutchman find his woman was quietly angelic. Acts II and III both open with rousing choruses; the second begins with the ladies’ “Spinning Chorus”, which was given light and crisp treatment, somehow evoking the spinning wheels very effectively. The third act opens with another light-hearted single-gender chorus, this time the sailors’ drinking song, which was vigorous and full of testosterone, setting audience feet tapping and knees bouncing. The subsequent call for the Dutch to awake and join their celebrations carried tremendous power.       […]

[…]     Andris Nelsons directed a very polished performance from the CBSO, with particularly good playing from the horns and timpani. The offstage horns, placed antiphonally, high in the hall, worked well with the opening male chorus, and the orchestral accompaniment was unobtrusive but solid all evening. Their warm, reconciliatory tone in the final pages was followed by a beautiful moment’s silence before a prolonged ovation for an excellent performance.”

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Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

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…    ” Alastair Miles was a very fine Daland, his bass voice flexible and resonant, making credible the old seafarer’s mix of compassion and more manipulative qualities. Arnold Bezuyen‘s Erik may have been spurned, but he need not shout. Nicky Spence‘s Steersman was vocally impressive, if too obvious in his acting. But it was Nelsons’ closing orchestral sequence, symbolising the redemptive quality of love, with its gloriously voiced last chord, that etched itself deep in the memory.”

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Review by Fiona Maddocks, Observer:

Click here for full review

...     “In a red-letter week, Nelsons and the CBSO also gave a concert performance of The Flying Dutchman with a top cast and sensational playing. Nelsons has frequently confessed his cradle devotion to Wagner the music that first inspired him as a child – memorably demonstrated in Birmingham performances of Lohengrin and Tristan. Given the current flock of aerial Dutchmen – with new stagings last month in Belfast, next in Scotland – this is not the place to dwell on the story. The artistry of singers and players is what counts. The six-strong cast was dominated by James Rutherford in the title role, anguished yet almost aloof and noble in his agony as the seafarer who can never find rest.”     …

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Review by Geoff Brown, The Times £££

Click here for full review

Tuned In: Elgar’s Enigma

Thursday 7 March 2013 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Michael Seal  conductor

Paul Rissmann  presenter

An introduction to Elgar’s In the South 20’

Elgar: In the South 20’

interval

An introduction to Elgar’s Enigma Variations 20’

Elgar: Enigma Variations 32’

 

Elgar didn’t call them the “Enigma” variations for nothing! In this special Tuned In concert, renowned presenter Paul Rissmann shares Elgar’s affectionate portraits of his friends and helps you attempt to crack the intriguing Enigma of one of the best-loved pieces in all British music, as well as whisking you off on the composer’s sunny Mediterranean jaunt.

He’ll guide you through the stories behind the music using a whole host of images, and unlock the musical building blocks that Elgar uses to create his caricatures – all assisted live on stage by conductor Michael Seal and the whole Orchestra. What better way to set the scene for a full performance of these gloriously enjoyable and very British masterpieces?

www.cbso.co.uk

Il Trittico

Saturday 2nd March 2013

Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico

Puccini’s trio of operas inspired by the work of Dante

Birmingham Conservatoire

Michael Seal – Conductor

Director – Michael Barry

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Il Tabarro –

Michele’s barge on the Seine in Paris

Cast

Michele – Wesley Biggs

Luigi – Bo Zhang

Tinca – Christopher Griksaitis

Talpa – Hedd Owen Griffiths

Giorgetta – Amelia Burns

Frugola – Urzsula Bock

Song Vendor – Edward Harrisson

Lover – Tamara Peters

Lover – Robert Tilson

Stevedores – Charles Allison, James Rowland, Harvey Seale, Andrew Wilson, Joe Zainul

Midinettes – Kendal Bradshaw, Sarah Gallop, Heather Heighway, Alexandra Soiza

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Sour Angelica –

A convent

Cast

Suor Angelica – Elizabeth Ryder

Principezza – Ellie Edmonds

Abbess – Lucy Stabler

Monitor – Eleanor Hodkinson

Mistress of Novices – Victoria Adams

Genovieffa – Louise Martyn

Osmina – Jessica Friend

Dolcina – Rachel Crisp

Nursing Sister – Rosie Walker

1st Tourière – Yi Ling Chaing

2nd Tourière – Sarah Burke

Other nuns, lay sisters, novices, etc

Naomi Berry, Esther Beard, Davina Brownrigg, Helen Cooper, Antonia Gentile, Ellen Hunter, Rachel Jonas King, Alexandra Soiza, Daniella Varadi, Kirsty Williamson

Suor Angelica’s Child – Oscar Cawthorne

Virgin Mary – Chloe Keenan

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Gianni Schicchi –

The Palazzo of Buoso Donati in Florence

Cast

Gianni Schicchi – Matthew Durkan

Lauretta – Sophie Pullen

Zita – Claire Barnett-Jones

Rinuccio – Gyula Rab

Gherardo – Brock Roberts

Nella – Sarah Richards

Gherardino – Antonia Gentile

Betto – Tom Ping

Simone – Samuel Oram

Marco – Tom Considine

La Ciesca – Victoria Aindow

Spinelocchio – William Gee

Notario – George Stuart

Pinellino – Daniel Wyman

Guccio – Harvey Seale

Buoso – Andrew Wilson

Covers

Gianni Schicchi – Samuel Oram

Simone – William Gee

Marco – Andrew Wilson

 

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Review by Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “But the revelation tonight was Suor Angelica – usually viewed as the  problem piece of the three. With Elizabeth Ryder in the title role, it was  overwhelming. Her Senza mamma  was piercing in its controlled intensity, and her stand-off with the coolly  sadistic Principezza (powerfully characterised by Ellie Edmonds) became the  dramatic climax of the evening – lifted to a shattering level by the conducting  of Michael Seal.

Alert and urgent, masterfully paced, and with a  near-perfect balance between singers and orchestra, it was hard to believe that  this was Seal’s first ever full-length opera. An on-form student orchestra  responded with some really sumptuous playing.”

*****