Mozart’s Gran Partita

MOZART’S GRAN PARTITA

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Wednesday 26 February 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Karl-Heinz Steffens  conductor

Guy Braunstein  violin

Mozart: Gran Partita (Serenade for 13 wind instruments, K.361) 49′

Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto 34′ Listen on Spotify
Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements 20′

Guy Braunstein’s encore – Kreisler – Schön Rosmarin

In   the film Amadeus, when Mozart’s arch-rival Salieri hears his Gran Partita,   he thinks he’s hearing the voice of God. Tonight, Karl-Heinz Steffens – a former   principal clarinettist of the Berlin Philharmonic itself – leads the CBSO’s   wind players to heaven. That’s just for starters, in a concert that features   a performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, and Stravinsky’s punchy wartime symphony; music of chrome   and steel, from the streets of LA. Pure sonic indulgence.

We are sorry to announce that Renaud Capucon has had to withdraw from this concert due to ill health. We are very grateful to Guy Braunstein for taking his place at short notice.

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, Thursday   8th May

Haydn and Mozart, Wednesday   14th May

Summer Serenade, Thursday   5th June

http://www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

“Built like a bricklayer and with a pugnacious playing manner to match, Guy Braunstein isn’t graceful – but his playing revealed the soul of a poet.

A late replacement for the ill Renaud Capuçon, who was to have played Glazunov, Braunstein’s performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto won many admirers; it eschewed outward glamour but got to the heart of the work.

In the canzonetta slow movement his violin line weaved magically together with the oboe and clarinet. His encore, Fritz Kreisler’s Schön Rosmarin was witty and slyly humorous.

The prominence of Tchaikovsky’s sensuous wind writing was no coincidence – conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens was formerly the Berlin Philharmonic’s principal clarinet.”     …

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Gala Opening Concert

Gala opening concert of the Anglo-Russian Year of Cultural Exchange 2014

Saturday 22nd February

Symphony Hall

Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio

Vladimir Fedoseyev conductor

Vadim Repin violin

Borodin Polovtsian Dances
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
Elgar Enigma Variations

Orchestra’s encore – Elgar – Pomp and Circumstance No 1

For this extraordinary Gala opening concert of the Anglo-Russian Year of Cultural Exchange 2014, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio’s charismatic artistic director and chief conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev conducts a rich programme of works by Russian and English composers, one of only two performances in the UK.

Universally acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest violinists, Vadim Repin performs Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with sheer virtuosic brilliance in a programme which also features Borodin’s spirited Polovstian Dances, Vaughan Williams’ haunting Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Elgar’s enduringly popular Enigma Variations.

Make no mistake: the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra makes a glorious sound – rich, sophisticated, with a burnished patina built up over decades playing together. The Scotsman

http://www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Gareth Ceredig, Birmingham Post:

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…     “The obligatory Russian fireworks arrived with a pacey Polovtsian Dances and an uncharacteristically frenetic Vadim Repin in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, but one would never have guessed from the intermittently scrappy rendition of Elgar’s Enigma Variations that this orchestra and conductor had performed the piece together only a week earlier in Moscow.

For all the strangeness and sloppiness, this ensemble is worth hearing for the quality of the string sound alone. It’s enormously resonant, underpinned by eight excellent basses, and one was grateful for the moments in the Borodin and Vaughan Williams in which Fedoseyev gave it time to bloom fully.”

Mozart and Elgar

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Thursday 20 February 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Edward Gardner  conductor

Steven Osborne  piano

Mozart: The Magic Flute – Overture 7′

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor K491 31′

Elgar: Symphony No. 1 52′ Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube

Steven Osborne’s encore – Beethoven – Bagatelle

At  the premiere of Elgar’s First Symphony in 1908, the audience rose to its feet  and simply yelled with excitement. So prepare yourself for raw emotion, desperate  beauty, and of course, one of the greatest tunes ever written by an Englishman.  The CBSO has a special relationship with Elgar; today, Edward Gardner writes a  new chapter. Mozart’s darkest piano concerto makes a wonderfully apt prelude,  played by the incomparable Steven Osborne. www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post: (for matinee of same programme)

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“I have heard countless performances of Elgar’s First Symphony over nearly half a century, with conductors including Boult, Elder, and that great Elgar advocate Sakari Oramo. But none of those could match what a packed Symphony Hall heard on Wednesday afternoon from Gardner and his willing orchestra.

Here was structural cogency and expressive communication; dark soul-searching and pastoral escapism; passing detail melded by Gardner into a wonderful arch of musical line. In other words, an account which thrust to the heart of this complex music and revealed every aspect of its message.

The orchestral sound leapt at us, basses ranged across the back underpinning all of Elgar’s textures, and building an almost organ-like sonority for the big tune on its first airing.”     …

*****

Mendelssohn in Birmingham: Hymn of Praise

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Thursday 13th February 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Edward Gardner  conductor

Sophie Bevan  soprano

Mary Bevan  soprano

Benjamin Hulett  tenor

CBSO Chorus  

CBSO Youth Chorus  

Mendelssohn: Overture, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage 13′

Mendelssohn: Two Motets, Op. 39 12′

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 2 (Hymn of Praise) 65′ Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube

Felix Mendelssohn was   one of the greatest natural talents in the history of music. So when he challenged   Beethoven at his own game… well hear for yourself! Hymn of Praise is   Mendelssohn’s very own Choral Symphony. Birmingham audiences of 1840 adored   it – and you will too, as Edward Gardner, the massed CBSO choruses and three   first-rate soloists bring our Mendelssohn cycle to Symphony Hall. Two delightful   rediscoveries complete a really joyous evening of music.

We are sorry to announce that Robert Murray has had to withdraw from this  concert due to ill health. We are very grateful to Benjamin Hulett for taking   his place at short notice. Read about Benjamin here.

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Der Rosenkavalier, Saturday   24th May

Strauss and Shakespeare, Wednesday   18th June

Mozart’s C minor Mass, Thursday   26th June

www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

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…     “The CBSO chorus’s considerable numbers risked being a little too resonant, but the sound was glorious; their contrapuntal lines were cleanly articulated, and they coped well with Gardner’s lively tempi. Seamlessly moving from one number into the next also helped things flow as never before. Tenor Benjamin Hulett and sopranos Sophie and Mary Bevan all projected the English words with intelligent, expressively shaped phrasing, and, in Gardner’s authoritative hands, new life was breathed into a work that suddenly seemed wrongly neglected.

By way of preface, Gardner had brought a similar airiness to Mendelssohn’s overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, its opening stillness wonderfully controlled. The fresh, bright girls’ voices of the CBSO Youth Chorus sang his Two Motets, Op 39, with elan and two solo sopranos emerging in the Tulerunt Dominum to show great promise. An uplifting evening.”

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Review by Roderic Dunnett, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

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…    “There are extraordinary things in the three-movement instrumental opening to the symphony: so interesting one might almost think, had the work remained unfinished, it might still have merited attention like Schubert’s 8th, and still had its distinctive Lutheran hue. Gardner kept it all measured; bits that might have run away higgledy-piggledy never did so. The Allegretto ‘un poco agitato’, an all but Tchaikovskian waltz, should sound wonderful on disc; it did here, rendered all the more impressive in that Gardner periodically ceased to beat at all, teasingly letting his players play. The ensuing adagio was all the more impressive for managing to infiltrate the CBSO’s sensitive contrabassoon player, Margaret Cookhorn, into it without scarcely being heard at all.

Congenial though two significant solos from soprano Sophie Bevan were, I found her timbre in the finale edgy, perhaps not her best, compared with her finer-honed sister Mary Bevan (who sang the lower line of the duet ‘I waited for the Lord’, where they matched each other to perfection, with fine horn obbligato). The most satisfying soloist – standing in for the originally designated Robert Murray – was tenor Benjamin Hulett, always endowed with a particularly beautiful sound, but now with a meaningful dramatic edge honed by four years with the Hamburg Opera. Hulett’s virtual dramatic scena, ‘The sorrows of death’, was in its way a triumph; but then so was his nobly delivered preceding recitative; and his start, with Gardner, to ‘My song shall always’ – perilous at the best of times – was a case of perfect mutual osmosis.

The CBSO chorus vociferously witnessed the night departing (surely a Victorian and Edwardian hit chorus, even though the – then – City of Birmingham Orchestra perplexingly never assayed it in full till the Second World War); but the choral plum was the late extended hymn Nun Danket (here ‘Let all men praise the Lord’), sung a cappella with pleasing finesse and a wonderful feel for dynamics instilled by a batonless Gardner – an assured choral director not least. Additional credit to Julian Wilkins’s CBSO Youth Chorus, who with their trainer at the organ served up two rare Mendelssohn Latin motets, in which their part singing was confident, their distinctive sound at the start and end firm and nicely forthright, and whose soloists – one semichoral quartet, and – above all a-  tantalising duet in ‘Tulerunt Dominum’, effortlessly filling the huge hall, were all but fabulous.”

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Review by Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource:

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…     “Whatever else, Edward Gardner’s was a reading that admitted of little false opulence and absolutely no sentimentality. Although comparisons with Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony were made right at the outset, Mendelssohn’s designation of his work as a ‘symphony-cantata’ leaves little doubt as to his intentions. The first three movements have an essentially introductory purpose – the initial bars setting out the imposing trombone theme which returns across the work and provides a ‘motto’ for all that is to come, followed by an Allegro where Gardner was particularly felicitous during the transition from the hectic development to the easeful re-emergence of the second theme. In the Allegretto, typically Mendelssohn in its synthesis of scherzo and intermezzo, he rightly brought out the shifting unease implied by its ‘un poco agitato’ qualification – and with the Adagio a song-without-words whose ‘religioso’ marking was never an excuse for indulgence. The arrival of the choral ‘finale’ was the more arresting through Gardner’s refusal to overdo the rhetoric in one of the composer’s most striking transitions.

The main problem henceforth is to prevent the vocal numbers from seeming arbitrary in their follow-through. That this did not happen here was owing to the swift though not inflexible tempos Gardner favoured, as well as a subtly changing expressive emphasis so that constituent sections cohered into a balanced and cumulative whole. He was aided by mellifluous singing from Sophie Bevan – her limpid tone complemented by the darker timbre of Mary Bevan in their poignant duet and an eloquent showing from Benjamin Hulett (replacing Robert Murray at short notice) in the ‘Watchman’ aria that was one of Mendelssohn’s inspired additions in 1841. The CBSO Chorus was assuredly not lacking impact in the energetic settings, while the chorale “Let all men praise the Lord” avoided stolidity through its unforced pacing and luminous accompaniment. Redolent of Handel while anticipating Brahms, the final fugue was vividly rendered – with the climactic return of the initial theme making for a decisive apotheosis. Whether or not a masterpiece, Hymn of Praise remains a work to reckon with.”     …

Singalong with the CBSO: Carmina Burana

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Sunday 9 February 2014 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

David Lawrence conductor

(Simon Halsey  conductor)

Katie Trethewey  soprano

Jeremy Budd  tenor

Alexander Robin Baker  bass

CBSO Chorus  

CBSO Children’s Chorus  

Ever   wondered what it’s like to sing live at Symphony Hall with the full CBSO? Now’s   your chance to find out, in this one-off performance from scratch of Carl Orff’s   uproarious Carmina Burana – 60 outrageously tuneful minutes of life,   lust and monks behaving badly! And whether you’re a choral society veteran or   have only ever sung it in the shower, you’re welcome to rehearse and perform   it today, under the CBSO’s world-famous chorus director Simon Halsey.

Information for singers: rehearsals start at 1.30pm; further details will be   sent with singer tickets. Scores: we will be using the Schott edition. To hire   a score with Simon Halsey’s rehearsal markings, please purchase the all-inclusive   Singer & Score Hire ticket when booking. NB If you’re not bringing your own   score, pre-booking of score hire via this ticket is essential. Pre-booked scores   can be collected on the day from 12.30pm by showing your score ticket. www.cbso.co.uk

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Belshazzar’s Feast, Saturday   26th April

Der Rosenkavalier, Saturday   24th May

Bluebeard’s Castle, Wednesday   2nd July

Handel’s Theodora

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2013/14

Thursday 6th February, 6:30pm

Town Hall

The English Concert

Harry Bicket conductor

Rosemary Joshua Theodora

Sarah Connolly Irene

Tim Mead Didymus

Kurt Streit Septimus

Neal Davies Valens

Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street, New York

Handel Theodora 160’

This concert has a running time of c 3 1⁄4 hours with two intervals of 20 and 15 minutes.

Handel rated Theodora more highly than the Messiah, and some say that this heartfelt tragedy of ancient Rome was his favourite of all his oratorios. For Harry Bicket and The English Concert it’s a neglected masterpiece, and with a quality cast that includes Sarah Connolly and Rosemary Joshua plus a fine American chamber choir, this should be a compelling sequel to last season’s critically-acclaimed performance of Radamisto.

Sung in English with English surtitles.

www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Roderic Dunnett, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “But before any of these bracing leads, a hugely well-deserved mention for the chorus,  the American-based Choir of Trinity Wall Street (this Theodora has already toured the States from West Coast to East, winding up in New York at the Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall. See Stan Metzger’s review ).

One noticed something quite remarkable about their early choruses: a phenomenal attentiveness, which made their rhythmic sense as alive as anything in the performance; and a harmonising of timbre (across girls and men but in fact embracing both), which so far from restricting, only underwrote their unanimity of delivery. Then later, brilliant characterisation in the almost clodhopping descending patterns of the lusty Roman Venus- (and Flora-) worshippers – while swapping demeanour effortlessly for the serene Christian choir conclusion – and a capacity for small bits of coloratura, or virtual coloratura, than sometimes capped even the principals.     […]

[…]  No surprise that Sarah Connolly was absolutely wonderful in the soubrette role of Irene – but for a reason. Her first aria, and indeed much of her input, was sung so peaceably and serenely.  ‘As with my steps the morn’ grew from pianissimo to piano, and her reprise was more like quadruple and triple piano. The effect was utterly mesmerising. Connolly, uniquely, has the artistry to effect portamento (‘bane of virtue’), a device she never overuses but which brings maximum affect when she does. Every time she sang was a masterclass; ‘Thou art the light, the life, the way’ was quite sensational; her start to Act III is as moving as Britten’s Lucretia.      […]

[…] But the nicest surprise of all lay in another singer. This was the countertenor Tim Mead, as Theodora’s lover and fellow-Christian Didymus, who in Act 3 pays, like her, with his life. I heard Mead some years back and was underwhelmed: a diffident voice and thin stage presence. Now  he dominates, the sound is forceful, confident, often thrilling – the presence attractive and engaging. The tone and timbre are immensely alluring. There is a precision that goes with the assurance. His coloratura was second to none. ‘To thee, thou glorious son of worth’, where he is matched in duet by Theodora as they both brace for the worst, is lovely enough: ‘Streams of pleasure’, the Act 3 equivalent, even more so. But ‘Kind heaven, if virtue be thy care’ at the end of Act I, with attractively skedaddling violins, was an aria of breathtaking beauty, the clarity and precision at this moment when he determined, if necessary, to die matched by some delightful light decoration at the da capo: pure enchantment; Didymus’s big Act 2 aria, ‘Deeds of kindness to display’, was simply out of this world.”

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Review by BH /”Admin” Lark Reviews:

Click here for full review

“Cast from some of the finest Handelians available and given the vigour of Harry Bicket’s conducting, this presentation could not fail; and so it proved.

Rosemary Joshua was as limpid a heroine as one could wish, and her Didymus, Tim Mead, a florid counter-tenor who brought genuine emotion to his singing. Sarah Connolly has some of Handel’s most moving music for Irene’s passionate support and consolation, and matched the more rugged approach of Kurt Streit’s Septimus.

Jonathan Best was a late replacement as Valens and seemed a little uncomfortable at first, but soon settled. The choir of Trinity Wall Street were new to me in terms of live performance and brought bounce and enthusiasm in addition to splendid articulation.”     …

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Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

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…     “This Theodora, with Harry Bicket directing The English Concert from the keyboard, was ardent, stylish and eloquently performed – given the limitations of the material.

In the title role Rosemary Joshua’s sweet-toned lyric soprano was perfect for the spotless Christian virgin’s prayer Angels ever bright and fair, and was well complemented by Sarah Connolly’s rich well-focused mezzo-soprano as her friend Irene.

Handel wrote the role of Theodora’s lover the Roman soldier Didymus, a closet Christian convert, for a castrato and brilliantly exploited the voice’s ethereal qualities.

Countertenor Tim Mead floated some gorgeous high notes, gracefully caressing the words. Kurt Streit almost made the paper-thin Septimius into a credible character, vehemently railing against the “Dread fruits of Christian folly”.

Jonathan Best (a late replacement for indisposed Neal Davies) was gruff but reliable as Valens. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street was in fine voice, splendid both as bloodthirsty lustful pagans and pious Christians.”

Ultimate Vaughan Williams

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Wednesday 5th February 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andrew Manze  conductor

Laurence Jackson  violin

Vaughan Williams: Overture, The Wasps 9′

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis 15′

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Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending 14′

Vaughan Williams: Job, A Masque for Dancing 44′

“He  rises and begins to round / he drops the silver chain of sound…” When The Lark  Ascending takes wing, so do our spirits. But that’s just one side of the genius  of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Andrew Manze has a special connection with this most  English of composers; tonight he shares the rollicking fun of The Wasps,  the timeless passion of the Tallis Fantasia and, to top it all, Job: a blockbuster of a ballet score that’ll change the way you think about English  music. www.cbso.co.uk

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If you like this concert, you might also like:

Mozart and Elgar, Wednesday   19th February

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, Thursday   6th March

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

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…     “Manze has been working his way through the Vaughan Williams symphonies in his appearances with the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra – their concert  of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth was one of the highlights of the 2012 Proms. But the main work in this Birmingham concert was not a symphony but what some Vaughan Williams enthusiasts regard as his greatest orchestral achievementJob: A Masque for Dancing. This finely judged performance, marvellously spacious and unhurried, never remotely caricatured, certainly reinforced that view of its stature.

Before it came three of Vaughan Williams’s best-known earlier pieces, which had also underlined the virtues of Manze’s forthright, determinedly unsentimental approach. There was not a trace of schmaltz about the big tune in the Wasps overture, while the outlines of the Tallis Fantasia were firm edged, with no hints of wispy pastoralism.”     …

Available to listen again on iPlayer until 12th February.

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Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

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…     “The CBSO’s leader, Laurence Jackson was the soloist in the ineffably beautiful The Lark Ascending and he did a splendid job. He played with expert control and no little poetry though even the beauty of his playing couldn’t quite shame the coughers into silence. Andrew Manze accompanied him with all the care and understanding of a fellow violinist and once again his pacing of the music was admirable. The central folk-like section had a nice spring to it and Jackson’s singing tone was a consistent delight. At the end, as the lark spiralled upwards on one final flight of fancy into RVW’s imagined clear summer sky it was possible to forget for a few minutes the gales and rain lashing Birmingham and much of the rest of the UK even as the performance was taking place. I’m sure Laurence Jackson appreciated the sensitive support from his CBSO colleagues; at the end his performance was warmly received – and rightly so.

 Job – A Masque for Dancing was composed between 1927 and 1930. It’s significant that RVW, with his deep appreciation of English cultural heritage, called it a ‘masque’ and not a ‘ballet’; into it he wove several old dance forms such as the Sarabande, the Pavane and the Galliard. The score is compelling on several counts. For one thing the thematic material is memorable – especially such episodes as ‘Sarabande of the Sons of God’, one of RVW’s great, broad tunes. In addition Job demonstrates the composer’s complete command of the resources of a modern symphony orchestra – and here his scoring is lavish, including a large percussion section, two harps, organ and an important saxophone part. Furthermore, it comes from a crucial period in his development. The visionary Sancta Civitas (1925) was just behind him and the Fourth Symphony (1934) and Dona nobis pacem (1936) lay not far in the future. One can hear echoes – or pre-echoes – of all these scores and much else besides in Job which, it seems to me, is a key work in Vaughan Williams’ output.

 This evening’s performance was excellent in every respect. There was a great deal of subtle and sensitive playing to admire, including the persuasive shaping of the Introduction and the Epilogue and the silky strings during ‘Job’s Dream’ (Scene IV). Among many fine solo contributions there was an eloquent oboe solo in the ‘Minuet of Job’s sons and daughters’ (Scene III). The scoring in this episode is marvellously delicate and transparent, recalling Ravel in its pastel colourings; Manze and his players delivered this passage extremely well. A highlight of the entire performance was ‘Elihu’s dance of youth and beauty’ (Scene VII). Restored to his leader’s chair, Laurence Jackson gave a superb account of the radiant violin solo. Here RVW revisits, some 16 years on, the clear blue skies of The Lark Ascending. The relationship between The Lark and this solo was emphasised by the unique opportunity to hear both in such close proximity and played by the same violinist.

 While there is a great deal of beautiful music in Job there are also many passages of great power and even brazen force, the latter chiefly associated with the character of Satan. The moment when, after Job’s patience has snapped under the weight of his trials and he curses God, there is a dread glimpse of Satan sitting on God’s throne (Scene 6) occasions a cataclysmic climax.  The cursing of God was anguished and powerful in this performance but the vision of Satan was overwhelming. Here the organ made a telling impact, pedal reeds deployed, I think, to ram home the point. At the start of this scene RVW’s use of an oily saxophone to represent Job’s comforters is a masterstroke. I think it was bass clarinettist Mark O’Brien who doubled on the saxophone at this point and his wheedling, penetrating playing was just right.”     …

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Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

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…     “The CBSO leader Laurence Jackson’s interpretation had a quality once considered quintessentially English – the ability to convey deep emotion through understatement.

His heart was in the music not worn on the sleeve. Jackson’s lark was as lyrical and rhapsodic as one could wish and its chaste beauty was perfectly at home in the work’s dreamy summer landscape.

To begin this all-Vaughan Williams evening Andrew Manze conducted a Wasps overture which fairly fizzed along straight from its opening buzz but with a slow central section lovingly shaped and cultivated rather than left as a patch of generalized pastoral.

The CBSO’s strings excelled in the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis: the interplay between the two string orchestras and quartet section clearly delineated and eloquently articulated.”     …

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Review by Ben Norris, UoB Blogfest:

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…    “This concert was part of the CBSO:2020 series, which – as the famous orchestra approaches its centenary in six years’ time – features works composed in the decade leading up to their inaugural concert in September 1920. The Lark Ascending, written in 1914 (initially for violin and piano) and arguably Vaughan Williams’s best known work, therefore formed the centrepiece of the evening. And here, unlike in Fantasia…, that desire for otherness is satisfied absolutely. At the moment, say, where the beautiful solo violin might take a phrase too many, the oboe emerges, pure and defiant. It was in this piece, and the final one, where we heard the CBSO, under Manze’s skilful guidance, at their most dexterous and antiphonally fluent. Laurence Jackson was the soloist, and he did an admirable job with a notoriously delicate part, occasionally sounding hollow or airy, but commendably never dispassionate.

The concert concluded with Job – A Masque for Dancing, which Michael Kennedy (in his excellent programme notes) calls ‘a synthesis of various elements in his [RVW’s] musical personality,’ and it was thus perfectly positioned at the end of the programme. By far the most dramatic and ambitious of the evening’s pieces, Job takes the listener on a journey too nuanced to describe in this short review, but one through which the CBSO led us expertly. Jackson – with the other excellent soloists – found full voice here, making his violin sing sweetly with the nostalgic themes of a composer whose place in the hearts of the British concert-going public appears deservedly secure.”