Purcell’s King Arthur

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

Friday 31st May

Town Hall

New London Consort

Philip Pickett  conductor

Nicholas Le Prevost actor (Merlin)

Joanne Lunn Cupid

Faye Newton Siren

Anna Dennis Philidel

Penelope Appleyard Siren

Adriana Festeu Priestess

Tim Travers-Brown Spirit

Joseph Cornwell Comus

Andrew King Man

Nicholas Hurndall Smith Shepherd

Benjamin Bevan Grimbald

Michael George Cold Genius

Simon Grant Aeolus

Ace McCarron lighting designer

Please note
The role of Merlin, which was due to be played by Oliver Cotton, will now be played by Nicholas Le Prevost.

Purcell

  King Arthur

 

Celebrating the triumph of good over evil in Arthur’s enchanted island realm, Merlin the magician tells a gripping tale of love, battles and betrayal. Pagans sacrifice, warriors triumph, spirits enchant, nymphs and shepherds pipe and dance, the Cold Genius shivers, and naked sirens seduce – all to some of Purcell’s greatest music.

Oliver Condy, Editor of BBC Music Magazine, explains why he has recommended tonight’s concert:

No-one who saw the New London Consort’s stunning Fairy Queen in 2011 will want to miss their new version of one of Purcell’s most vibrant works. Performed by an A-list cast of singers and a colourful consort of baroque instruments, it’s sure to be an enchanting evening.

www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Verity Quaite, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Despite my reservations about the juxtaposition of the old with the new, the authentic instrumentation with the lighting, the performance by the New London Consort was exemplary and these talented musicians lived up to their reputation for artistry and virtuosity.  Anna Dennis’ depiction of the spirit Philidel was impressive, with her full and agile voice suiting the part well. Faye Newton and Penelope Appleyard’s voices as the Sirens sent to distract Arthur from his mission were well matched, and Appleyard, overpowered by Dennis in choruses, came into her own here. Unfortunately Adriana Festeu appeared to struggle in the lower register at times, while Joanne Lunn gave a consistently high calibre of performance. Similarly, countertenor Tim Travers Brown, tenor Andrew King and baritone Benjamin Bevan all executed their parts admirably.”     …

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Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

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…     “Merlin moved events rapidly on in Act III, relating the capture of Arthur’s blind betrothed Emmeline by former suitor and Saxon leader Oswald, before illustrating his magical powers by curing her blindness. Pickett had moved the Passacaglia to this point, believing it to be its rightful and original location; this took us mid-act to the interval. Cast as Cupid an animated Joanne Lunn got the second half off to a cracking start with her What Ho! thou genius of this isle to introduce a shivering Michael George as Cold Genius. I thought the choral singing of See, See, we assemble excelled here, music and voices the epitome of ‘quiv’ring with cold’. The strings superbly led by Penelope Spencer had a primary role in the subsequent Dance – a cold scene that warmed the cockles. The brief Act IV saw Le Provost tell Arthur to trust nothing he encounters in his quest to reclaim Emmeline from the enchanting wood. Newton and Appleyard as two Sirens generated an ethereal resonance to support the illusions that the king encountered, but naturally the good spirits overcame the bad.”     …

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Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The link man was actor Nicholas le Prevost, telling the story in disturbing modern vernacular; raising laughs and groans from the absorbed listeners however.

Ace McCarron’s interesting and imaginative lighting helped throughout from a flitting airy spirit single moving spot, to cool icy shadows. The stage management was most impressive, with smooth interchanges and movements from the soloists.

Four male soloists responded wonderfully to sparky tabor for a lively front of stage dance, after which soprano Joanne Lunn sang the familiar Fairest Isle with true commitment and lovely tone.”     …

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Nelsons Conducts Britten’s War Requiem

A BOY WAS BORN:

NELSONS CONDUCTS BRITTEN’S WAR REQUIEM

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Tuesday 28 May 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor

Erin Wall  soprano

Mark Padmore  tenor

Hanno Müller-Brachmann  baritone

CBSO Chorus  

CBSO Youth Chorus   CBSO Children’s Chorus  

Britten: War Requiem 88′ Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube

“My subject is War, and the pity of War.” Benjamin Britten composed his War   Requiem for the new Coventry Cathedral, but it’s become one of the defining   achievements of modern music, a timeless and profoundly moving exploration of   man’s inhumanity to man. The CBSO gave its world premiere: this music is in   our blood, and every performance is special to us. Be there as Andris Nelsons   and an international team of soloists bring this deeply personal masterpiece   to Symphony Hall before taking the work on tour.

Unfortunately, Kristine Opolais has withdrawn from the War Requiem performances. This is due to physical changes in her voice over the last months, following the birth of her first baby, which have affected her work with this repertoire.

We are grateful to Erin Wall for agreeing to take her place at short notice.

Read all about the 50th anniversary performance of the War Requiem in Coventry   Cathedral in May 2012 here.

Explore Birmingham’s celebrations of Britten’s centenary here.

www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

Click here for full review

…     “In fact the clarity of sight and sound was all to the good. They showed up the special virtues of the conductor, Andris Nelsons, who refused to approach the work with the reverence it sometimes receives from British conductors. He just wanted to make it as thrilling and immediate as possible.

The result was that passages which can sound like a somewhat dim echo of earlier Britten came up fresh and new. The word “revelatory” is overused in concert reviews, but here it’s exactly right. There were whole passages which I felt I was hearing for the first time, like the “Recordare” chorus, and the beautiful semi-chorus in the “Liber Scriptus”, touched off by the pearly innocence of soprano Erin Wall (and how touching she was in the “Lacrimosa”, cushioned by the voices of the CBSO chorus.) The CBSO Youth Chorus, coming from way up above in the gallery, were moving just because they were so crystal clear.”     … 5 out of 5 stars

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Review by Roger Jones, SeenandHeard:

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…     “The final section, Libera me, was a tremendous climax, both dramatically and emotionally. In the Tremens factus choirs and orchestra (especially the brass and percussion) burst into a horrific cacophany of sound which as good as plunged the audience into the middle of a battle. This was Verdi – but far more terrifying. Then came one of Wilfred Owen’s most striking and hatrrowing poems, Strange Meeting, in which the poet meets in death the man he has killed. It was sung with dignity and sincerity by Padmore followed by Müller-Brachmann who effortlessly imparted meaning to every word and note. The final Let us sleep now, repeated by the soloists, was enveloped in the embrace of In paradisum from the Youth Choir and eventually by the whole chorus.

Simon Halsey insists the CBSO Chorus is the best choir in the world, and although there must be other contenders for the title, they certainly turned in an excellent performance this evening – as did the CBSO and Andris Nelsons who is now confirmed as one of the brightest stars in the musical firmament. But I single out for particular praise the two male soloists. I have always been impressed by Mark Padmore’s musical sensitivity but his feeling for the words he sings with such clarity and meaning. But now he has a rival: Hanno Müller-Brachmann!”     …

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Blog Post by The Plashing Vole:

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…     “As to the CBSO’s performance – they and the conductor Andris Nelsons proved yet again why they’re one of the best ensembles in the world at the moment. This difficult, complex music wasn’t just performed technically well: the dynamics and the emotional effects were perfect. The children’s choir was disturbing and ethereal and the largely amateur CBSO Chorus wrung every ounce of suffering and desolation from their parts. For me, the test of a good choir isn’t power and volume: it’s the ability to maintain beauty, diction and control in the quietest passages. The Requiem demanded total control and the Chorus demonstrated once again just how amazing they are.

At the end of the 88 minutes, performed without an interval (thankfully), the audience was stunned into silence. I’ve never heard such a long, profound silence after the baton went down. I was moved to tears, both by the subject matter and the performance and I think others were too. Nelsons stood there, slumped, exhausted and spent, until finally he exchanged weary, emotional hugs with the singers – they’d been through the emotional wringer and the event transcended the usual very British reserve seen on platforms.”     …

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Blog Post by Rodney Bashford, WarRequiem.Blogspot:

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...     “Does the powerful impact of War Requiem reduce with so much repetition?

Not from the performer’s perspective and, judging by the audience reaction last night, not for those who may have encountered it before or those, perhaps,  coming to it for the first time. The atmosphere was ‘electric’, the performance (like Coventry Cathedral) equally highly charged and the stunned silence at the end almost as long as that in Coventry. Let’s see what Europe now make of it!

 
These are some of the comments from Tuesday night’s performance:
 
Chorus Member
 
The audience don’t see Andris Nelsons’ entreating eyes, now anguished, now seraphic; the semaphoring mouth; the fluttering, eloquent hands as he dispenses with the baton; the sheer depth of involvement in communicating his vision.
Cellist
 
The sheer emotional response of all concerned, tears even in the eyes of hard-boiled back-desk violins, and even more so from the vocal soloists. Mark Padmore, exuded both anger at the crass futility of war, and overwhelming guilt and regret as he and the German “enemy” he killed are reconciled in eternal sleep.
 
Audience
 
The CBSO and CBSO Chorus were wonderful last night. Truly breathtaking and wonderfully conducted by Nelsons (as usual)!”     …
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Review by Andrew H King, BachTrack:
Click here for full review
…     “Conductor Andris Nelsons commanded the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, CBSO Chorus and Youth Chorus, as well as three excellent soloists, in one of those performances that linger in the memory for days after the final notes are heard. The steady, ominous opening provided an excellent opportunity for the orchestra to display the tightness of ensemble, Britten’s unforgiving use of rhythm from the off being a premonition that the worst is yet to come. The chorus also immediately matched the orchestral skill, each brief, disintegrating phrase possessing an accurate and intense level of attention to detail – Britten indicates masses of colour throughout the work and each instruction was rigorously observed. The initial entrance of the Youth Chorus, accompanied by chamber organ high up in the gallery and representing something ethereally beautiful, further cemented the performance’s high standards with excellent diction and precise intonation.”     …

Trifonov Plays Tchaikovsky

23rd May 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Mario Venzago  conductor

Daniil Trifonov  piano

Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter) 26′

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 33′

Schumann: Symphony No. 4 29′ Watch on YouTube

Daniil Trifonov’s encore – Schumann / Liszt – Widmung

The Orchestra throws down the challenge; the piano strides forward; and on a great wave of melody, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto surges into life. The greatest of all Romantic piano concertos? One thing’s for sure: Tchaikovsky Competition winner Daniil Trifonov plays it like no-one on earth. We’re thrilled to welcome him to Birmingham, as the star of a concert that begins with Mozart’s ever-astonishing final symphony and ends with Schumann at his headlong, heartfelt best. Sheer emotion. www.cbso.co.uk

Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique

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

Part of Entertaining Erdington… more events…

Tuesday 21 May

Symphony Hall

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Neeme Järvi conductor

Boris Berezovsky piano

Arvo Pärt   Silhouette (Hommage à Gustave Eiffel) 7’
Grieg Piano Concerto 30’
Tchaikovsky   Symphony No 6, Pathétique 45’

Boris Berezovsky’s encore with orchestra – Grieg Piano concerto second movement

Orchestra’s encore – Arvo Pärt – Cantus In Memoriam of Benjamin Britten

The tragic Pathétique was written just months before its composer’s suicide. Neeme Järvi conducts this famous Swiss orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s final testament, preceded by Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Arvo Pärt’s coolly beautiful Silhouette, inspired by the Eiffel Tower’s visionary architect.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:

Go on and don’t let anything scare you; you’ve got what it takes – Liszt’s words of encouragement for the 26 year-old Grieg, having just played through a draft of the young Norwegian’s Piano Concerto. From that famous dramatic opening flourish to the energetic final movement, it’s easy to understand the enduring appeal of Grieg’s sole concerto.

www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “The main courses were wonderful. Boris Berezovsky’s solo  playing in the Grieg Piano Concerto was so well-integrated as to be almost  unnoticeable (and that is a huge compliment). His reading was questing,  searching, almost improvisatory, and Jarvi’s orchestra responded in kind. Neeme  Jarvi and l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are quite a team; I can think of at  least two other partnerships which had better get off their laurels.”

*****

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Review by Verity Quaite, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The arresting opening chords of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor signalled a change in mood, and began even before the applause welcoming soloist Boris Berezovsky to the stage ceased. Immediately captivating, the unassuming Berezovsky looks entirely natural at the piano and delivered an exceptional performance. Sensitive and flexible, Berezovsky flitted between the extravagant dramatism and dreamlike lyricism of the concerto with ease. Supported by an orchestra of responsive musicians, the rapport between soloist and orchestra was evident. A strong horn section and gifted principal flautist overshadowed the single hesitant entry by the orchestra, who, with the understated direction of Järvi, made this a very memorable performance.”     …

Variations on America

Wednesday 15 May 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Matthew Coorey  conductor

Roderick Williams  baritone

Ives: Variations on America 7′

Herrmann: Suite from Psycho 10′

Copland: Appalachian Spring – Suite 24′ Listen on Spotify

Adams: The Wound-Dresser 20′

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances (West Side Story) 23′ Listen on Spotify

Encore – Bernstein: Candide Overture

No country is as diverse as the USA – and that goes for its music too. But whether you’re walking Leonard Bernstein’s mean streets or deep in Aaron Copland’s green hills; whether you’re at the movies with Bernard Herrmann or searching a nation’s psyche with John Adams, you’re guaranteed sincere feelings, epic vistas and larger-than-life tunes. And, of course, fun – as conductor Matthew Coorey kicks off with Ives’s outrageous musical spoof of a tune that you might just recognise…

This concert coincides with the prestigious annual conference of the British American Business Council (BABC), taking place in Birmingham from 15–17 May 2013. www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

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…     “The programme also featured a rare concert hall outing for Bernard Herrmann’s “narrative for string orchestra” from his score for Psycho. It was a thrilling to hear this fine symphonic film score played by a world-class symphony orchestra, particularly as it was film music that first drew me into the world of classical music. The attentiveness, throughout the concert, of the schoolchildren present suggested that at least a few more young people will hopefully follow in my footsteps.

Coorey’s highly disciplined conducting style ensured a taut attack in Herrmann’s irresistibly angsty “opening titles” scene. The string players of the CBSO clearly relished the Stravinskian writing, with numerous bow hairs lost in attrition as the suite progressed. Perhaps most recognisable of all is the graphic murder scene featuring those iconic and terrifying violin glissandos, which, the excellent programme note suggested, were a reference to Norman Bates’ taxidermic avian collection.  […]

[…]  Roderick Williams was the unflinching baritone protagonist, looking the audience squarely in the eye as he sang with a beautiful, creamy tone. Though the orchestral writing is characteristic of Adams, with its pulsing ostinatos and the addition of a synthesiser to more standard orchestral forces, the vocal line reminded me at times of Britten, who would surely have approved of setting this sort of material to music. The mood of the music changed with each verse and particularly vivid orchestral outbursts accompanied key phrases. Alan Thomas on two types of trumpet provided tender solos and Beyers was, once again, a tirelessly sensitive violin soloist.”     …

*****

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Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Conductor Matthew Coorey’s reduced strings scared with  Hermann’s Psycho film music; impending doom mesmerising a rapt audience with  memorable hacking down-bows of screams and murder. “Violins did it!”

With Aaron Copland one is in a deepest Appalachian Spring.  Mysterious countryside, wide skies, gentle mountains. A story of lovers, country  folk, all encompassed by deliciously lop-sided rhythms, hymns, fiddlers and  square-dancers. Smiling pastoral music, not a gun in sight. All obviously  enjoyed by the players, fully entering into the spirit of the music.”     …

*****

Viva Italia!

Wednesday 8 May 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor

Strauss: Aus Italien 47′ Listen on Spotify

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 (Italian) 26′

Tchaikovsky: Capriccio Italien 16′

Roman holidays: when northern composers headed for Italy, it never took them long to go native. Felix Mendelssohn wrote a symphony that positively dances in the sunlight, and Tchaikovsky had barely left his hotel room before his head was fizzing with tunes. But the young Richard Strauss outdid them both with the joyous Aus Italien, a sunkissed, gloriously over-the-top celebration of Italy in all its exuberance. Andris Nelsons loves it; you’ll wonder why we don’t hear it more often! www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Never mind, the performance did all it could to convince, with gossamer upper  strings, a pungent undertow and well-characterised winds. Perhaps we will get  more used to the work when the Orfeo recording of this live performance is  released.

In the second half we relished two genuine masterpieces. The Mendelssohn was  instantly galvanising, typically elfin and lively, and the Tchaikovsky, after  the scariness of its opening (it terrified me as a two-year-old when I heard it  on Dad’s 78s), just burst with joyous interaction between the players — and  what a scintillating solo from trumpeter Jonathan Quirk.”

*****

 

CBSO 2013/14 Season

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

New season brochure online here

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“CBSO launches programme based on sound business sense”Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post: – Click here

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“CBSO unveils 2013 / 2014 concert season with acclaimed music director Andris Nelsons” Article by Gary Young, Birmingham Mail:- Click here

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“CBSO announces 2013 / 14 Birmingham Concert Season”Article, BirminghamPress:- Click here

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“The CBSO announce their 2013/14 season”Blog post by Tam Pollard, WheresRunnicles: – Click here

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“Birmingham, Land of OperaBlog post by Intermezzo: – Click here

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“New! CBSO 2013 / 14 Season : An Enticing Prospect” Article by John Quinn, SeenandHeard:- Click here