Bruckner’s Ninth

Wednesday 13th April, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Mozart  Clarinet Concerto, 28′
  • Bruckner  Symphony No. 9, 59′

Bruckner’s Ninth has been called a “cathedral in sound” – and no question, it’s got majesty to spare. But that’s just the surface: this is nothing less than one man’s final struggle to find peace, told in music of shattering power and beauty. There’s more to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto than just gorgeous melodies, too – and if any soloist can get to its heart, it’s Michael Collins. Soul music, Austrian-style.

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Review by Richard Ely, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     Their cause was aided greatly in the Mozart by soloist Michael Collins‘ choice of the basset clarinet, for which the concerto was written, in preference to the smoother tones of the modern instrument. This gave the solo part an arresting edge which contrasted with the hushed orchestral accompaniment – reined back almost to a whisper during the Andante –and served equally well in the more extrovert outer movements: the gallop of the finale was especially piquant. Collins, genial and earthy next to Feddeck’s more ascetic presence on the podium, proved himself a stalwart advocate for the piece, as powerful when playing in concert with the orchestra as in his spotlit solo role.  This was a performance as alert and life-enhancing as anyone could wish for: the bear traps of blandness were sidestepped with agility.  […]

[…]     Along the way, much orchestral detail was revealed that too many performances overlook. Feddeck downplayed the bombast of the Scherzo, which became less the aural depiction of hell some interpreters like to make it and more of a long march over rough terrain, with a rest break (the trio) in the middle.  The contrasting music of the trio, with its disturbing and otherwise un-Brucknerian sensuality was vividly characterised by the strings in combination with the woodwind.  Although I’ve heard far weightier accounts of this movement, Feddeck’s approach worked through its combination of toughness and ethereality.  

The final Adagio showed conductor and orchestra at their finest. Most  impressive was the solo violins’ harrowing depiction of the ‘cry of anguish’ at the start of the movement. Aside from some scrappy ensemble between the horns and the Wagner tubas, the balance between the different sections was impeccable and there was an almost Viennese lilt to the strings. There was no sense of incompleteness in this performance as  Feddeck and his forces brought the piece home in a blaze of sound that shook Symphony Hall to tis foundations.  ”     …

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