Royal Danish Orchestra perform Nielsen

BICS 2015/16 – Royal Danish Orchestra perform Nielsen

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 Concert Package,

SoundBite, Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 and Opera highlights

Wednesday 16th September

Symphony Hall

Royal Danish Orchestra
Michael Boder conductor
Magdalena Anna Hoffman soprano

Per Nørgård Iris 12’
Schoenberg Erwartung Op 17 30’
Nielsen Symphony No 5 Op 50 34’

Royal Danish Orchestra’s encore – Nielsen – Maskarade – Overture


PLEASE NOTE: Petra Lang is now unable to perform Schönberg’s Erwartung for this event. She has been replaced at short notice by Magdalena Anna Hofmann Bookers will be contacted in due course. 5/8/15 ~ THSH

Carl Nielsen actually played in the Royal Danish Orchestra – so there’s no orchestra in the world with a longer tradition of performing his music.

In this anniversary year, RDO principal conductor Michael Boder brings arguably Nielsen’s finest symphony to Birmingham and opens with the ravishing Iris by Denmark’s pre-eminent living composer.

Praise for Magdalena Anna Hoffman performing Erwartung in April 2015 in Vienna

The monodrama revolving around the nocturnal wanderings of the Woman found its brightly shining voice in Magdalena Anna Hofmann…
Wiener Zeitung

Magdalena Anna Hofmann with her deliciously pleasing soprano voice..
Tiroler Tageszeitung

… Magdalena Anna Hofmann as The Woman with her sensual, majestic soprano voice, able to transmit every imaginable emotional impulse or outburst. Quite simply an experience!
Harald Lacina, Der Neue Merker

Review by Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “There was a similar intimacy to Schoenberg’s Erwärtung – notwithstanding the dark beauty and lustrous tone of Magdalena Anna Hofmann’s voice, and the controlled tension with which she unfolded Schoenberg’s great psychological drama. The RDO darted and shimmered around her to the manner born: this is where that opera pit experience pays dividends.

And then, at last, Boder let his band off the leash for a volcanic Nielsen Fifth Symphony. Lean, powerful strings, deliciously folksy woodwind and a positively malicious percussion section all came together in an interpretation conceived as one sweeping gesture. Boder let his players play, and the symphony’s desperate last-minute triumph can rarely have sounded so hard won – or so overwhelming. The encore – Nielsen’s Maskarade overture – had the audience yelling with excitement.”     …


Review by Richard Bratby, TheArtsDesk:

Click here for full review

…     “The piece is a natural for an opera orchestra, of course, and Boder and the RDO darted, shimmered and swirled under and around Hofmann’s dark, lustrous voice without a false step. Hofmann herself told Schoenberg and Pappenheim’s horror story with cool control; as the implications of the words flashed across her face, she never forced her tone or descended into melodrama – making her short, sudden bursts of vocal characterisation all the more powerful. A ghoulishly rolled “r” here, a low hint of a snarl there: this performance was both intensely beautiful and unsparingly honest. On the opera stage, it would have been devastating.

Unsparing honesty is very much Carl Nielsen’s line of business too; and with the Fifth Symphony we finally had a chance to hear Boder let his players off the leash. Woozy, overripe bassoons gasped out the opening theme; the percussion launched into their onslaught with raw malice, and the principal clarinettist peacocked shamelessly. No question, the RDO came across as an orchestra with character to spare. But the impression of a super-sized chamber group coalesced here into something more powerful.

No-one would say that the RDO strings have a luxurious sound, but their transparency and sonorous power whipped up a genuinely menacing storm in the first of the second movement’s great fugal episodes. Put simply, they sounded like they meant it. All this, while Boder maintained his undemonstrative beat: letting his players play, and trusting them to understand where he was taking them – in this case, through a symphonic struggle which found resolution only at the last possible moment: almost at the very last note. The stakes can rarely have felt higher, and there was a slightly hysterical, off-the-hook edge to the encore (an uproariously OTT Nielsen Maskarade overture). In an uncompromising programme, perhaps Boder and the RDO’s greatest achievement was making the 150-year old Carl Nielsen seem the most dangerous man in the room.”


Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

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With origins that can be traced back to the middle of the 15th century, the Royal Danish Orchestra can claim to be the world’s oldest orchestra. Nowadays it divides its time between concert hall and opera house, and in both those roles this year it has been marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Carl Nielsen, who was a second violinist in the orchestra for 16 years. A Nielsen symphony was inevitably part of the programme it brought to Birmingham – the Fifth, played under its principal conductor Michael Boder.

Anniversary years apart, we don’t hear Nielsen symphonies often enough in the UK to have a real sense of a performing tradition about them, and it was fascinating to hear the Fifth played by an orchestra for whom the work is core repertoire. Boder emphasised the music’s extremes rather less than some conductors – the side drum’s interventions towards the end of the first movement seemed less anarchic; the fugal writing of the second less manic – and the work nudged closer to the 19th-century symphonic mainstream than usual, and seemed a more natural development of Nielsen’s earlier Brahmsian style.”     …


Review by Alexander Campbell, ClassicalSource:

Click here for full review

“The Royal Danish Orchestra and its conductor Michael Boder presented this brilliantly planned programme of Schoenberg’s nervy monodrama Erwartung sandwiched by two works by Danish composers. With its eerie opening, including flutter-tongued woodwinds, Per Nørgård’s Iris set the tone perfectly, music that is initially unsettled until gradually developing a pulsing quality that ushers in other instruments, a prominent, rather elegiac clarinet flourish proving to be the core of the work. The volume increases until an aggressive burst from the brass and the music fades away in an unresolved way. With some fantastic playing, this thoroughly vivid performance suggested that Iris deserves to be heard more often.

Magdalena Anna Hofmann

Following on the theme of uncertainty, next was Schoenberg’s 30-minute extravaganza for soprano and orchestra, Erwartung (Expectation). Magdalena Anna Hofmann, singing from memory, revealed a strong and characterful voice with a rich middle register allied to a rather metallic top range, which suited the character’s fluctuating moods and transient thoughts of warmth, jealousy, anxiety, resolve and deep despair. Her performance was internalised allowing one to focus on the text (a shame there were no surtitles). Hofmann has excellent diction however – a real plus! Thanks to Boder’s sympathetic conducting, the orchestra provided washes of sound without overwhelming the singer. Erwartung is an unsettling piece and best experienced live – and here exerted its curious magic.”     …

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