Carmen and Boléro

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Wednesday 16 October 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

 Alain Altinoglu  conductor

Nora Gubisch  soprano

Bizet: Carmen – Suite No. 2 20′

Ravel: Shéhérazade 17′ Listen on Spotify
Bizet: Symphony in C 31′

Ravel: Boléro 14′ Watch on YouTube

The  nights are lengthening in Birmingham – but with some composers, it’s always summer!  Bizet’s Carmen suite isn’t just a parade of some of the best tunes in all  opera; it’s practically Spain in a bottle – and his Symphony in C is pure sunshine.  Conductor Alain Altinoglu dishes it up with a truly Gallic joie de vivre, and  joins his wife Nora Gubisch for Ravel’s wickedly seductive songs. Talking of seduction…  well, Ravel’s Boléro says it better than any words!

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Wednesday  15 January

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, Thursday  6 March

Pictures at an Exhibition, Thursday  29 May



Review by Verity Quaite, BachTrack:

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…     “Ravel’s Shéhérazade filled the remainder of the first half, bringing an effective contrast to the earlier piece. Inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite of the same name, Ravel’s Shéhérazade comprises settings of three poems by Tristan Klingsor. Capturing a mystic, orientalist sense of the East, Ravel’s orchestration subtly underpins the vocal line, always supporting and never overshadowing. The CBSO carried off their role of accompanists perfectly, never overpowering mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch and instead really allowing her to shine.  A supremely confident and expressive performer, the chemistry between Gubisch and the orchestra seemed just right, perhaps in part due to the chemistry and understanding between Gubisch and her husband, conductor Altinoglu.

Bizet’s Symphony in C followed the interval, bringing the programme a delightful symmetry. Though technically fine, as with the Carmen Suite No.2 the orchestra seemed to take a while to warm up. As the performance progressed, it did become far more involving and captivating. Ravel’s Boléro got off to a very hesitant start with a tentative entry on the snare drum. This was recovered, however, with each soloist’s entry bringing strength to the piece and thanks to Altinoglu’s tireless energy. The oboist, bassoonist and in particular saxophonist added a seductive flare and gave the piece some personality. By the entry of the timpani, Altinoglu had won the orchestra and audience round and the performance really stepped up a notch. It culminated in what can only be described in a cacophony of sound – an exuberant and fitting end to the concert.

This was an occasion where the orchestra really appeared to be enjoying themselves and the difference in made to my own enjoyment of the concert was vast. Each musician was rapt and every single member of the orchestra poured all their concentration and effort into the finale.”     …



Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Not so here: this punctilious Frenchman came up with several surprises, including a nicely manicured by-the-book reading of Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 2 which, although displaying more patina than passion, allowed for some rewarding solo opportunities from leader Laurence Jackson and principal trumpet Jonathan Holland.

And Altinoglu’s support for his wife, mezzo Nora Gubisch, in Ravel’s Shéhérazade was quite exemplary, matching her warm, sculpted tone and clear articulation with an attention to instrumental detail that fully complemented the work’s sensuousness.”     …