Following last season’s hugely praised Town Hall concert, the remarkable Capuçon Brothers return by popular demand, this time with pianist Michel Dalberto. They’ve chosen music of graceful, transient beauty by Ravel and Fauré to frame Brahms’s Second Piano Trio, the latter warm, genial and full of musical wisdom. www.thsh.co.uk
6pm Free pre-concert recital for ticket holders. Winner of the THSH/Birmingham Conservatoire 2012 recital competition, pianist Magdalena Wajdzik plays Chopin, Ravel and Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata.
… “The technical glitter of the Ravel was delivered with just the right nonchalant precision, and the third-movement passacaglia’s ascetic aura was captured effectively in the only genuinely pianissimo piano playing of the evening.
Though less overtly virtuosic, Fauré’s late work (completed in 1923) is the more difficult of the two to bring off in performance, the master mélodiste tempering the lyricism of the first two movements with an eager, rhythmic finale that is never quite allowed off the leash.
A lifetime of making music together was evident in the Capuçons’ seamlessly matched melodic weight and faultless intonation – the opening Allegro ma non troppo, a miniature masterpiece of sinuous extended phrases and delicate harmonic shifts, receiving a particularly affectionate performance.” …
… folksy string quartet (inc Adam Romer from the CBSO dragged from audience)
Fischer and his remarkable orchestra are one of today’s most exciting musical partnerships. The Guardian spoke of ‘this extraordinary ensemble’s apparently limitless ability to take us by surprise’. Judge for yourself in Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra – a dazzlingly colourful showpiece – and Brahms’s stirring Fourth Symphony, resolute but mature and reflective.
For sheer blinding energy, nothing has come anywhere near the Budapest Festival Orchestra The Telegraph.
Oliver Condy, Editor of BBC Music Magazine, explains why he has recommended tonight’s concert:
Who better than an all-Hungarian team to capture the spirit of their compatriot Bartók’s attractive and audience-friendly Concerto for Orchestra? And with Brahms’s greatest symphony completing the programme, what’s not to like?www.thsh.co.uk
… “Formed only 30 years ago, the Budapest Festival Orchestra is now one of the top three in the world, according to Esquire magazine. If you would prefer to trust the judgment of a more specialist publication, Gramophone puts the BFO in the world’s top 10.” …
… “Both performances had the presence and clarity that are among the hallmarks of an outstanding orchestra. Fischer took the concerto briskly. With hardly a pause between the movements, and a marvellous, laconic casualness to the interlude-like second and fourth movements, he managed to make the whole work seem urgent yet not driven; efficient without becoming perfunctory. The BFO’s excellence is founded upon its large body of wonderfully disciplined strings, so the fugue at the heart of the last movement was launched on a marvellously sinewy violin line. As that finale drew to a close, it was startling to hear the detail – every voice precise – in the spectral slithering that provides the calm before the storm of the final climax.” …
… “Fischer took all the movements without pauses between, making the work feel much more like a coherent whole than I have considered it previously. Furthermore, his fluid beat and the refined playing gave this angular work many more smooth edges than I am used to hearing in it. The second movement, “Play of the Couples”, ushered in by the tapping of a snare-less side drum, could not have been much more playful. The bassoon couple, in particular, had riotous fun with their parts, raising more than a few smiles in both the orchestra and audience.
These players wore their virtuosity lightly. This was most evident in the famously vulgar Shostakovich “Leningrad” Symphony quotation (which may have nothing to do with that piece, of course) in the fourth movement. Except here it was played without forced vulgarity, more knowingly tongue-in-cheek, with Fischer almost dancing along to the gaudy tune.
The frantic fugal writing in the whirling finale was easily discernible by virtue of the levity in the string playing as well as their enlightened seating arrangement. By the time we reached the headlong rush to the coda, it was obvious that Fischer had meticulously prepared and paced all the preceding sections expertly. I doubt I will hear a more colourful, more finely judged and performed rendition of this piece for some time.” …
… “Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra was stunning, its rhythms and textures vibrantly detailed with a wonderful spatial identity and timbre and the musical lurches from one idea to another delivered with an almost insouciant sleight of hand – the Shostakovich-inspired raspberries in the ‘Intermezzo interrotto’ were especially delicious, as were the squeals of delight of the whirlwind Finale. After such a signature Hungarian work (albeit one composed for American audiences) Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 offered something totally different, and it was clear from the songlike grace of the opening that it would be an intensely lyrical interpretation.” …
Comedy or tragedy? Shostakovich, like Shakespeare, knew that great art can be both at once. Maybe that’s why his powerful Sixth Symphony swings from black despair to knockabout fun, and why his Hamlet film-score bristles with deadpan humour. Guest conductor Vassily Sinaisky knows this music inside-out – and he’ll bring all his signature verve to the out-and-out heroism of Beethoven’s Leonora overture. CBSO principal trumpet Alan Thomas is the soloist in an irresistible comic opera of a concerto by Mozart’s star pupil. www.cbso.co.uk
… “This stunningly well played concert of violent emotional contrasts was a triumphant display of the powers of concentration of both conductor and players.
After Shostakovich’s suite from his film music for Hamlet, CBSO trumpeter Alan Thomas brought a gleaming tone and a dancing lightness to Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, poetic in the slow movement and full of gleeful high spirits and agility in the irresistible finale.
The second half brought a dramatic change of tone with a blazing performance of Beethoven’s Leonora Overture no. 3, where the strings’ evocation of hope after oppression in the coda had an unquenchable excitement.
And so to the enigma of Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 6. Vassily Sinaisky is one of a great line of Russian conductors in this repertoire, and he gave us an intense and disturbing performance, part apocalypse and part circus.” …
Dvořák’s powerfully dramatic Seventh Symphony is preceded by Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto (completing this season’s cycle of piano concertos), played by celebrity guest Hélène Grimaud. Beethoven composed the piece as Napoleon’s guns thundered across Vienna; its nobility and grandeur never fail to carry audiences away.
Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:
The Czech Philharmonic orchestra gave some of their earliest concerts under Dvořák himself. His symphonies and music like Smetana’s From Bohemia’s Meadows and Forests are part of the orchestra’s great tradition, capturing the spirit of the Czech people and their folk music.
6.15pm Free pre-concert conversation with Lyndon Jenkins and Jiří Bělohlávek.
… ” “It is our goal to bring the fame of Czech music to the broadest audiences worldwide,” says Jiri, as he tell me about the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra’s ambassadorial activities. “Every year the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra spends quite a number of days on tours. As our orchestra plays an important role in the music life in Prague, we have to divide our activities among our subscription series, special projects, educative concerts, recording, and so on. Our policy is to reserve up to approximately 40 concerts per season for international touring,” he says.” …
… “Often eclipsed by the ever popular Ninth ‘New World’ Symphony, No 7 still remains a heart-warming and enjoyable piece of music.
It also demonstrates Dvorak’s talent for blending harmonies, for building on themes and forrevelling in a good tune. No 7 is full of life and vigour as it dances along, bouncing themes back and forth between strings, woodwind and brass, all working together towards its rousing finale.
It is clearly loved by the Czech Philharmonic and conductor Jiri Belohlavek who seemed to greet it like an old friend, quickly embracing its colour and tone and capturing its energy beautifully.” …
… “Matters improved in the lovely central Adagio with orchestra and soloist coming together as one. Grimaud displayed a real depth of feeling here and the seamless transition into the rollicking final Rondo was utterly convincing. This was taken at quite a lick and, despite the last degree of unanimity between soloist and orchestra being again absent, the concerto came to an agreeable conclusion.
The orchestra was back on home territory for Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony. The placement of the violas on the outside right of the orchestra meant that these highly vocal and sweet-sounding players were heard in all their glory throughout the symphony, not least in the opening of the piece. Bělohlávek’s interpretation was for the most part straightforward and quite hard driven. The climaxes in all the movements were tremendously exciting with horns and trumpets tastefully given their heads.”
… “This orchestra is intimately acquainted with the terrain, both musical and natural, and with Jiří Bělohlávek at the helm this traversal had depth and power.
It whetted my appetite for a complete performance of Smetana’s epic Má Vlast from this team. Having recently heard their 1992 recording of Dvorak’s seventh symphony it seems Bělohlávek’s interpretation hasn’t changed substantially in 20 years.
There’s no reason it should since it’s one that’s beautifully balanced between Dvorak’s desire to compose a more highly-structured Brahmsian symphony and his ineliminable Bohemian roots.
Unfortunately, Cédric Tiberghien has had to withdraw from this concert due to illness. We are very grateful to Kirill Gerstein who has agreed to take his place at short notice.
Serious fun. Brahms’s Second Concerto is one of the peaks of the piano repertoire, as big as a symphony and breathtakingly difficult. Yet from dreamy opening to sparkling finish, every note radiates pure sunshine – and soloist Kirill Gerstein knows exactly how to make it sing. It’s the joyous climax to a concert that begins with Max Reger’s wonderfully romantic musical paintings from 1913, and Schubert’s bubbly Third Symphony: personal favourites, dished up with love by the CBSO’s popular principal guest conductor. www.cbso.co.uk
… “Kirill Gerstein was the pianist (Gardner told me later how they had worked so successfully together in the recent past).
His grip over the solo writing’s complex harmonic and contrapuntal textures was superb, his sense of direction in phrasing convincing in its inevitability.
Gardner’s CBSO responded with proud, glowing tones, lovely string articulation (the conductor at times digging into the basses instead of milking the violins), and, of course, the famous solos: Elspeth Dutch’s horn an authoritative dawn command, Eduardo Vassallo’s cello throbbing, flowing, and so deservedly acknowledged by Gerstein at the end.”