Australian Chamber Orchestra

and Steven Osborne

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2014/15 Concert Package,

SoundBite, Birmingham International Concert Season 2014/15, Orchestral Music and Piano Music

Sunday 5th October

Symphony Hall

Australian Chamber Orchestra
Richard Tognetti director/violin
Steven Osborne piano

Haydn Symphony No 83, La Poule 24’
Mozart Piano Concerto No 27 32’
Jonny Greenwood Water
Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence 35’

The Australian Chamber Orchestra is a byword for freshness and energy, and from Haydn’s explosive Parisian Symphony to Tchaikovsky’s sun-drenched postcard from Italy, this is a programme that plays to their strengths.

Richard Tognetti* directs a striking new work that Jonny Greenwood wrote especially for the ACO, and Steven Osborne finds new depths in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 27.



Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Steven Osborne never gets in the music’s way. He sits at the piano stool – but the composer is always in the driving seat. In Mozart’s piano concerto No 27, for example, the central movement’s sublime melody was wonderfully shaped without resorting to prettification or excessive rubato and was never slowed down from its specified larghetto. The cadenzas didn’t obtrude with seams showing, and the allegro finale absolutely sparkled supported by excellent work from the ACO.

Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir of Florence was originally for string sextet but while the ACO used triple those forces the gain in sonority didn’t mean a sacrifice in transparency. The adagio’s interplay between first violin and cello had the ardour of an operatic duet – marvellous! In Jonny Greenwood’s Water the composer played with the band on one of two tanpura, a fretless lute. There are tinkling piano ostinatos, a little eerie nachtmusik and some Psycho­-style abrasive strings – 17 minutes of movie music sans film.”




Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “The Radiohead guitarist had clearly drawn on their fluidity of movement for the piece that emerged. That movement was reflected, too, in the final title, Water, from Philip Larkin’s poem in The Whitsun Weddings. The effects of light bouncing off water created a distinct aura. Once again, strings were wrapped around pivotal instruments: two flutes and two Indian tanpura, the smaller of which was played by Greenwood himself, with Tognetti leaning in to deliver concertante violin lines. The tanpuras’ low, gently plucked droning gave the piece – in five interconnected sections – a constant deep resonance. Featuring amplified upright piano and keyboard, synthesising the sound of glockenspiel and celeste (nodding to the soundworld of Messiaen, yet without the use of ondes martenot), Greenwood’s soundscape was organic and persuasive. The rhythmic ostinati and the shimmering rise and cascade of scales, with rippling chromatic colour, created a more dynamic effect. Greenwood bowed as modestly as a novice; in fact, he is anything but.”     …

Australian Chamber Orchestra and Freddy Kempf

Sunday 27 November, 3pm

Birmingham Symphony Hall

Mozart Symphony No 29 28’
Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings 22’
Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings 28’
Mozart Symphony No 40 35’

Australian Chamber Orchestra
Richard Tognetti director, violin
Freddy Kempf piano
Tine Thing Helseth trumpet


The Australian Chamber Orchestra has been described by the Washington Post as having ‘the energy and vibe of a rock band with the ability of a crack classical chamber group.’ This afternoon they’ll shine a fresh light on much-loved music by Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

The Aussies are matched in youthful flair by the dream team for Shostakovich’s witty Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings: pianist Freddy Kempf and brilliant trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth.

‘Listening to the ACO is like taking a swig of a vitamin drink. Suddenly: pow! The music certainly feels stronger, muscled, hot from the gym… If that’s what Australia does for you, I’m also emigrating.’ The Times

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, recommends today’s concert: “If this is the first time you’ve encountered the ACO, the first thing you’ll notice is that, unlike other orchestras, their musicians stand when they perform which brings a real energy to their playing. The second thing is that music-making of this quality is an absolute joy to behold.”

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

…     “The Mozart alone merited the ticket price, but here also were Shostakovich’s early Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, and Mozart’s G minor Symphony. Freddy Kempf, the solo pianist in Shostakovich’s concerto, was burningly intense and focused, where sometimes a certain ironic distance would have helped in the outer movements. Trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth had a far less taxing role, but she executed it with relish.

Then, in Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, the orchestra proved it can do romantic pathos just as well as 18th-century wit.”     …

Article on Richard Tognetti, by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

…      “Russian music separated the symphonies. Larger string groups might produce more sumptuous weight of tone in Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, but not the finely painted inner detail the ACO managed, nor the exquisitely spun melodic thread through its slow movement, while in Shostakovich’s Concerto for piano and trumpet, with Freddy Kempf and Tine Thing Helseth as the soloists, they responded with playing of whiplash precision. Though it’s a concerto in which the trumpet is very much the junior partner, Helseth took every opportunity to show what a fine instrumentalist she is, even if there was something a bit bombastic about Kempf’s contribution; this is, after all, a work in which a touch of sardonic brittleness is entirely appropriate.”