Russian Classics

ThumbnailRelax and Revitalise

Wednesday 12th November 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Gustavo Gimeno  conductor
Simon Trpceski  piano

Tchaikovsky: Overture: Romeo and Juliet 21′
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 28′
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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 (Little Russian) 33′
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No composer puts on a show quite like Tchaikovsky – whether it’s the world’s most famous love theme in his Romeo and Juliet overture, or the high-kicking, vodka-fuelled festivities that close his shamelessly tuneful “Little Russian” Symphony. In his CBSO debut, the energetic young Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno should get the pulse racing – and joins Birmingham favourite Simon Trpceski in Prokofiev’s best-loved piano concerto.

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Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “He made a favourable impression here right from the moment that he came onto the platform, shook hands with the orchestra’s leader, Laurence Jackson and then kissed the hand of his first desk colleague, Zoë Byers. It was a courtly gesture that seemed quite unaffected and which raised a smile in the orchestra.  His beat is expressive yet clear and his left hand conveys meaning too. It seemed to me that all his gestures were relevant and not extravagant and he appeared to have a good rapport with the orchestra, which played very well for him. He clearly relished the opportunities to unleash the power of the orchestra in this acoustic – though never in an excessive or vulgar way – yet there was also much dexterous, refined and neat playing to admire also. And how refreshing it was to see a young conductor pay the orchestra the compliment of dressing, like the gentlemen of the CBSO, in white tie and tails rather than in one of the loose-fitting jackets that seem to be all the rage these days.

The Macedonian pianist, Simon Trpčeski joined the orchestra for Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. In the past I’ve greatly admired his work as a concerto soloist in Rachmaninov (review ~ review) and he appeared equally at home in Prokofiev. David Gutman’s useful programme note quoted a perceptive observation by Hugh Ottaway that this concerto ‘accommodates nearly all the Prokofievs we have ever known’. Composed between 1911 and 1921 it contains passages of steely virtuosity and also fine examples of the composer’s lyrical gifts, especially the sweeping melody, so typical of Prokofiev, that we encounter in the finale.  The first movement, after a deceptively gentle start, soon becomes much more vigorous and the music often has a hard edge. Trpčeski despatched the often-formidable piano part with great élan. The second movement, like the second movement of the Second Symphony (1924-25), is a theme and variations. The variations are very wide-ranging in nature and I admired the way both Trpčeski and the orchestra under Gimeno’s direction, brought out the different facets of the music. There was much bravura brilliance in the finale but the aforementioned big melody was given its full value; it was worth waiting for. The ending was exuberant. I enjoyed and admired Trpčeski’s performance in equal measure – as, clearly, did the audience who responded very warmly – and it seemed to me that Gimeno and the CBSO offered him sterling support.”     …

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Between these two came Prokofiev’s Spring-like Piano Concerto no.3, Simon Trpceski the witty and affectionate soloist.

This is such a special work combining dewy freshness and sardonic cockiness, and Trpceski encompassed it all. His percussive playing was delicately poised, his open-eyed ruminations hinted at greater depths, and his amazing bravura did full justice to Prokofiev’s no-holds-barred conception (in some ways Trpceski surpasses what we hear from the composer himself on an ancient recording, but do try to get hold of that).”     …

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2 thoughts on “Russian Classics

  1. Derek Hunt says:

    I was impressed by Gustavo Gimeno. He was expressive and seemed to connect with the orchestra well. I would like to see more, what did you think? Regards, Derek

    • azuriteenigma says:

      Hi Derek,
      I was also impressed! Such elegant, graceful conducting, but also able to let loose and raise the temperature when necessary. Nice eye contact / connections to each section too. Hope the orchestra enjoyed working with him and then perhaps we’ll get to see him do further concerts with them….

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