Wednesday 15th January 2014 at 7.30pm
Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600
Andris Nelsons conductor
Erin Wall soprano
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (highlights) 50′
Love never dies. Richard Strauss’s career went off like a rocket with Don Juan, and you can almost smell the testosterone. A lifetime later, Strauss gazed into the sunset and heard his Four Last Songs; ardour turned to serenity, in music of transcendent beauty. As for Romeo and Juliet… let’s just say that there’s a lot more to Prokofiev’s romantic ballet score than the theme from The Apprentice. Andris Nelsons will give it his all.
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CBSO Youth Orchestra, Sunday 23rd February
Der Rosenkavalier, Saturday 24th May
Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
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… “And the CBSO under Andris Nelsons responded wholeheartedly and movingly. Tuttis were sumptuous and well-weighted, and instrumental solos touched the heart; Elspeth Dutch’s horn-playing really hit the spot, but I know she won’t mind giving place to the solos of prince among concertmasters Laurence Jackson, his violin trembling on the edge of the other-world.
Nelsons had begun with some Richard Strauss right at the opposite end of the composer’s life, when he was a rising young buck taking the world by storm: the tone-poem Don Juan, whose coruscating opening notes were the first Nelsons ever conducted with the CBSO, and which launched such an ineffable relationship between them.
Double-basses were here ranged across the back, having swapped places with the percussion, and the twang of their pizzicatos was arresting. At the other end of the dynamic scale, the various interludes were gloriously dreamy, and throughout Nelsons’ gestures inspired not only his players, but also us in the audience, drawing our attention to relevant lines. We are going to miss him, and in a way are doing so already.” …
Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:
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… “Tonight’s performance opened with great panache, the music thrusting, urgent and colourful. The first love scene was expansive and ripe, expressively moulded by Nelsons. During the quicker music, which is, effectively, the development section of the piece, Nelsons got the orchestra to play with dash and brilliance – though they seemed to need little encouragement; the players were fully engaged in this interpretation. A lovely oboe solo from Steven Hudson was a highlight of the second love section; Nelsons shaped this whole section with almost extravagant attention to detail. The music sounded properly opulent and heroic towards the end but the quiet conclusion of the work was marvellously achieved. The performance as a whole was splendidly played, including many excellent solo contributions: the evening had got off to a tremendous start. […]
[…] This was a most impressive performance by Erin Wall. In Frühling she offered ardent singing, her long phrases soaring over the mellow orchestral sound. Here, as elsewhere, it was perfectly possible to follow the words she was singing without recourse to the texts printed in the programme; that’s no mean achievement for a high voice faced with tessitura that is often demanding and a vocal line that can be florid. Singing September Miss Wall span a lovely line, her tone rich but not overdone. I appreciated especially the wonderful half-tone with which she delivered the last phrases of the song before Elspeth Dutch’s golden-toned horn solo took the music on seamlessly to its mellow close. Beim Schlafengehen benefitted from radiant playing by Laurence Jackson in the glorious violin solo. When Miss Wall resumed singing after this solo the moving words ‘Und die Seele unbewacht/Will in freien Flügen Schweben’ soared memorably and ecstatically. Some conductors play the opening of Im Abendrot quite urgently, pushing the music forward. I can understand why but I prefer to hear the music taken expansively – yet not indulgently – and that is just how Andris Nelsons took it. You could see him visibly feeling each phrase the orchestra played. Erin Wall sang with great expression, phrasing generously. For much of the time her singing was soft and rapt yet such was the dynamic control exerted by Nelsons and his players that every note she sang was completely audible. The long orchestral postlude glowed beautifully, bringing to a deeply satisfying conclusion a moving performance of this song which clearly transfixed the audience. I hope very much that Andris Nelsons will include the Four Last Songs in his series of Strauss recordings with the CBSO; if he does I hope he will invite Erin Wall to be his soloist.” …
Review by Hilary Finch, Times:
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