Saturday 29th November 2014 at 7.00pm
Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600
Schumann: Piano Concerto 31′ Watch on YouTube
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 (Haas) 68′
Listen on Spotify
Stephen Hough’s encore – Schumann: Träumerei
Imagine a symphony played by an angel. That’s how Anton Bruckner first dreamed of the blissful opening melody of his Seventh Symphony – and when you hear it, you’ll understand why: this is music that scales sublime heights and heartrending depths. For Andris Nelsons, it’s a labour of love; so he begins by teaming up with the incomparable Stephen Hough in Schumann’s ever-fresh love-poem of a Piano Concerto.
Review by Ken Ward, BachTrack:
Click here for full review
… “It had been prepared by a series of woodwind solos, the woodwind also on excellent form, which were enhanced by the decision to fully open the hall’s reverberant chambers for the Bruckner, the slight echo amplifying the characteristic timbre of each instrument, clarinets, oboe and flute. Nelsons, already beating a very moderate Allegro, had slowed down significantly to allow this passage its full eloquence.
For the first time with this symphony Bruckner makes use of a quartet of Wagner tubas, and it’s always splendid to see the players assemble on stage with these large instruments of glistening gold. They have the reputation of being a little troublesome to play, but the Birmingham musicians were faultless and glorious to hear. Their big moment is after the Adagio climax where they play a dirge in memory of Wagner himself, who had died whilst Bruckner was composing the symphony, a dirge capped with a blazing outcry from the horns – all of this magnificently accomplished. And they have repeated chorales to embellish the progress of the finale, and these were again beautifully done.
Altogether it was performance with many such highlights, mostly passages where the sheer beauty of the sound and excellence of the playing gripped one’s attention. […]
[…] Stephen Hough’s performance of the Schumann Piano Concerto in the first half had been filled with intelligence and vitality, a display of absolute mastery. The balance of piano and orchestra, and the interplay between soloist and members of the orchestra – especially the excellent clarinet playing of Oliver Janes – was a delight to hear. After the meditative Intermezzo, the exuberant finale broke through with refined high-spirits, presenting a bright and joyful spectacle.
Hough closed the first half with a nicely executed Träumerei from Schumann’s Kinderscenen. Nelsons closed the concert with a little speech in which he thanked the audience for coming, wished them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and said that he was really glad that so many people came to listen to Bruckner: “sometimes people are afraid, but actually, as you see, it is absolutely magic and absolutely amazing, particularly with this orchestra”.”