Beethoven Week: The Choral Symphony

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Sunday 21st September 2014 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Annette Dasch  soprano
Lioba Braun  mezzo soprano
Ben Johnson  tenor
Vuyani Mlinde  bass
CBSO Chorus  

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 27′
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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (Choral) 67′
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Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is the summit of any Beethoven cycle – and some might say, the whole of classical music. But there’s a lifetime of experience to live through before we get to that final, transcendent Ode To Joy, and Beethoven’s explosive little Eighth Symphony launches a concert that’s sure to be one of the most talked-about events in Birmingham this year.

Supported by The Mailbox

If you like this concert, you might also like:
War and Peace, Thursday 6th November
Schubert’s Great, Wednesday 14th January 2015 & Saturday 17th January 2015
Brahms and Beethoven, Wednesday 25th March 2015 & Saturday 28th March 2015

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Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

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…     “Plaudits first to the glorious CBSO chorus, their discipline making Beethoven’s huge demands on them appear negligible: intonation and enunciation of Schiller’s words wereimpeccable, and the care given to the oft-repeated word‚ “brüder” underlining the aspiration to peaceful brotherhood had its own powerfully cumulative effect. The orchestra, too, was in optimum form: details precisely honed, while also sustaining the almost Wagnerian expansiveness that Nelsons brought to the phrasing. The Eighth Symphony, a world away from the lofty ideals of the Ninth, had carried the same balance of a dancing grace with dramatically explosive bursts of rhythmic energy.

But from the quietly arresting opening, it was the organic progress of the Ninth that held the attention, with the contemplative heart of the slow adagio allowing the choral finale to emerge as a logical conclusion to everything so far. South African Vuyani Mlinde who sang the stirring bass solo, joined with soloists Annette Dasch, Lioba Braun and Ben Johnson, to push the reluctant Nelsons on for a solo bow. Nothing to do with him, he tried to suggest, only the genius of Beethoven.”




Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

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…     “The cycle culminated in a magnificent ninth: a scherzo of relentless energy, a slow movement wafted in from a beatific realm, an orchestral recitative which really spoke and a well-integrated quartet of soloists in Annette Dasch, Lioba Braun, Ben Johnson and Vuyani Mlinde who were equal to Beethoven’s demands.

And of course there’s the tremendous 130-strong CBSO Chorus, under their associate conductor David Lawrence, their articulation and attack enhanced by having the score in their heads rather than their heads in the score.

If the CBSO is the crowning glory of Birmingham’s musical life then its Chorus is the jewel in that crown.

In Schiller’s Ode to Joy, the celebrants are described as “feuertrunken” (drunk on fire) and often the orchestra played like that – intoxicated by Beethoven’s music, soaring on a natural high which infected the audience with their enthusiasm and brought us all within the enchanted circle for the duration of each work. It was a privilege to be invited in.”