Baiba Skride: Szymanowski

Thursday 4th February, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

 

Programme

  • Mendelssohn  A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Overture, 11′
  • Szymanowski  Violin Concerto No.1, 23′
  • Shostakovich  Symphony No. 10 , 52′

Baiba Skride’s encore – Bach – Sarabande from Partita 2 in D Minor

The Soviet authorities called Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony an “optimistic tragedy”. But we can hear it as one of the mightiest symphonies of the 20th century: huge, dark, and driven by blazing emotion. It’s all a long way from the moonlit enchantment of Mendelssohn’s Shakespearean overture – or Szymanowski’s gorgeous, shimmering First Violin Concerto, played tonight by this season’s artist in residence, the wonderful Baiba Skride.

CBSO+ 6.15pm Conservatoire Showcase Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Seal, performs Respighi’s majestic Pines of Rome and Mattei, a World Premiere by Conservatoire Composer Ryan Probert.

 

.

Review by Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…    ” He went on to sculpt Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony in big, sweeping gestures and a positively lurid palette of orchestral colours. True, it was alive with detail: Julian Roberts’s plangent bassoon solos, Rainer Gibbons’s oboe twisting palely in the gloom at the start of the finale, and pizzicato that ranged from fat and pungent to bitterly wry. But this was broad-brush Shostakovich, thrillingly physical and reeking of vodka and boot-leather. The ending drew cheers.      […]

[…]     Earlier, the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra gave a pre-concert performance under Michael Seal. Mattei , by Conservatoire composer Ryan Probert, created huge Technicolor sonorities (extra brass plus organ) from the slightest of musical ideas. Respighi’s Pines of Rome put the same forces to suitably roof-raising use; but it was the eloquence and sense of atmosphere in the quiet music (beautifully poised trumpet and clarinet solos, supported by ravishing string phrasing) that showed just what heights these students can attain under Seal’s direction. “

.

 

 

 

Baiba Skride: Tchaikovsky

Wednesday 16th December, 7.30pm

 

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Rimsky-Korsakov The Snow Maiden – Suite, 12′
  • Tchaikovsky  Violin Concerto, 34′
  • Sibelius  Symphony No. 1 , 38′

Baiba Skride’s encore – Erwin Schuloff –

Our artist in residence Baiba Skride has been compared to the legendary violinists of the past, and critics reach for words like “transcendent”, “mesmerising” and “unparalleled” to describe her playing. But here in Birmingham, we’ve long since taken this schoolfriend of Andris Nelsons to our hearts. In partnership with Andrew Litton, her performance of Tchaikovsky’s ever-popular Violin Concerto will make a gloriously sunny upbeat to Sibelius’s powerful First Symphony.

CBSO+ 6.15pm 15-16 Artist in Residence Baiba Skride talks to CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock.

 

Be Uplifted this Christmas!

Baiba Skride: Schumann

Thursday 5th November, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Wagner  Lohengrin – Prelude to Act 1, 10′
  • Schumann  Violin Concerto, 30′
  • Brahms  Symphony No. 1, 45′

Brahms’s first symphony begins with the pounding of a broken heart, and ends with the kind of melody that comes once in a lifetime. It’s a gripping way for rising star Omer Meir Wellber to make his Birmingham debut. First though, he raises the curtain with Wagner’s magical, mystical Prelude to Lohengrin, and introduces artist in residence Baiba Skride in the dark poetry of Schumann’s only Violin Concerto.

.

Support the CBSO

.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

“If anyone needed converting to Schumann’s enigmatic Violin Concerto, this was the performance to do it, with soloist Baibe Skride so persuasive in her advocacy.

This CBSO Artist in Residence made light of the work’s awesome technical difficulties, multiple-stopping despatched with ease, and instead drew all our attention to the music’s tortured poetry, written at a time when the composer was so poignantly close to insanity.

Her Stradivarius, on loan from another great champion of the work, Gidon Kremer, sang with a dark, wiry tone, confiding hushed intimacies and communicating as in chamber music with the CBSO’s pastel strings. Winds, too, made memorable contributions, not least horns in the finale, which, truth to tell, had begun heavily-footedly under Omer Meir Wellber’s generally empathetic direction. And Wellber should never again cross in front of the soloist to congratulate the concertmaster during the applause.”     …

.

Review by Richard Bratby, TheArtsDesk:

Click here for full review

…   “The Lohengrin Prelude had felt a little too much like an exercise in static, if sweet-toned, phrase-making – the long line was missing. But here it was, at the opening of Brahms’s First Symphony: back with a vengeance. If the impression so far had been of a meticulous, thoughtful conductor with a hyperactive podium style, from the first bars of the symphony it was clear that Wellber had some seriously large-scale musical ideas – and the power to realise them.

On the strength of this performance, Wellber conceives the symphony as one huge, single-movement span – from expansive opening right through to a finish which, judging from the savage splendour of his brass-torn final bars, it’s doubtful that he sees as any sort of resolution. The conflicts of the first movement lumbered angrily up from the bass line of the second, and this must have been one of the least relaxed performances imaginable of Brahms’s third movement intermezzo. The finale followed almost without a break: the drive and bite with which Wellber lashed into the string figuration of Brahms’s introduction – so often played purely for romantic atmosphere – felt like the tail-end of a development section that still had everything to fight for.

Throughout it all, Wellber unlocked the full, lustrous sonic depth of the CBSO string section – a rare achievement since Nelsons’s departure. If there remained something claustrophobic about his vision (and it was particularly frustrating to hear leader Laurence Jackson and principal horn Elspeth Dutch’s solos locked rigidly into tempo) it was unquestionably compelling. The audience responded with cheers, and the orchestra remained seated when Wellber gestured it to stand, handing all the credit to the young Israeli. It’s been an open secret in Birmingham for some weeks that there is already a clear front-runner for the CBSO’s music directorship. Last night, that contest got a lot more interesting.”

.

Review by Stephen Pritchard, The Observer:

Click here for full review

…     “Wellber plainly loves this piece. From the first bar he was a man possessed, mercilessly driving the bleak majesty of the pounding first movement and drawing some wonderfully incisive playing from the strings. Conducting without a score, he pounced on every nuance, highlighting the smallest detail in woodwind and brass, and always, always pushing onward that insistent, doom-laden rhythm.

He allowed the sun to break through briefly when the woodwind sang their warm chorale at the start of the third movement but there was much heart-searching to do before we finally reached the broad landscape of the “joy” theme, Brahms’s conscious tribute to Beethoven and a seizing of his laurels, taking the symphonic form in a new direction.

Wellber worked the orchestra intensely hard in this finale and they responded magnificently; I’ve not heard Brahms played as well as this in years. The CBSO is searching for a replacement for the revered Andris Nelsons. Wellber might just be their man.”

*****

.

Haydn in London

Thursday 7th May, 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Haydn Symphony No. 103 (Drumroll), 29′
  • Mozart Violin Concerto No.4 in D Major, 24′
  • Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, 26′
  • Haydn  Symphony No. 104 (London), 29′

No two great composers were ever closer than Mozart and Haydn, and there’s a smile in every bar of this delightfully entertaining concert. Two of the wittiest and warmest symphonies ever written frame lively concertos by Haydn’s best friend, and his biggest 20th century fan. Andris Nelsons’ schoolfriend Baiba Skride is the soloist. This is going to be fun: this spring, put a spring in your step!

.

Support the CBSO

.

Review by Sarah Probert, Birmingham Post: (for matinee of same programme)

Click here for full review

…     “The Mozart was neat and crystalline, Skride’s bow resourceful and articulate in communication, her dovetailing with the orchestra triumphant at the end of the first movement cadenza.

The Prokofiev brought piercing purity of intonation in an amazingly empathetic collaboration with the CBSO under Andris Nelsons (Skride’s old schoolmate).

The opening movement quite rightly emphasised the music’s folklore narrative, the andante was full of veiled fantasy launched by the whispering tones of the CBSO strings, and the finale was a louche dance of death, the pearly bass-drum obbligato grimly delivered by Andrew Herbert.

Skride’s performances came as the announcement was made that next season she is to be artist-in-residence with the CBSO.

Sadly there is no Andris Nelsons in that prospectus, and as his tenure as the orchestra’s music director comes to a close he seems on fire.

I have never seen him so relaxed and so balletic (even for him) on the podium.

He has developed a back-handed resource to his conducting, and has the confidence in his orchestra just to sweep across 180 degrees, knowing that they are with him every beat of the way. Will Boston ever experience such a sense of unity, I wonder?”     …

.

.

Mendelssohn in Birmingham: The Italian Symphony

19 October 2013 at 3.00pm

Town Hall, Birmingham 0121 345 0603

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Edward Gardner  conductor

Baiba Skride  violin

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 (Italian) 26′

Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto 27′

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 5 (Reformation) 30′

Unfortunately, Veronika Eberle has had to withdraw from this concert due to ill health. We are very grateful to Baiba Skride who has agreed to take her place at short notice.

Prodigy,  dreamer and master of melody – it’s no wonder that Felix Mendelssohn was Victorian  Britain’s favourite composer. And when the Italian Symphony bursts into  sparkling life, you’ll understand the reason, as Edward Gardner launches our Mendelssohn  Symphony Cycle in exuberant style. Baiba Skride is the soloist in Mendelssohn’s  Violin Concerto, performed today on the very spot where Mendelssohn conducted  some of his greatest works: Town Hall, Birmingham.

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Nelsons conducts Brahms’s Fourth, Wednesday 6th November

Mozart and Elgar, Thursday 20th February

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, Thursday 6th March

.

.

“Mendelssohn to Thrill Birmingham, like he used to” –

Click here for article by Christopher Morley (in conversation with Edward Gardner), Birmingham Post

.

.

Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The tarantella-inspired finale was taken attacca and was daringly swift. This movement is a reminder of Mendelssohn’s talent for motoric writing (marked by a repetitive beat that sounds mechanical), here proving no problem for the players in their dispatch of the dazzling, whirling triplets. I was struck, as on previous occasions, by the way in which Gardner generates excitement in symphonies: choosing an over-arching tempo that is just right for a movement with subtle, if any, deviations, ensuring that the architecture of the music is very much in evidence through careful balancing and then really injecting energy and drive into climactic moments.

Baiba Skride was the last minute replacement for indisposed violinist, Veronika Eberle. There was no sign of hasty preparation in this very fine performance. Skride’s sweet and cultured tone was ideally suited to the concerto’s blend of pathos and consolation. Her transitions into the sublime second subject and out of the cadenza were magical; the undulating spread chords of the latter blending perfectly into the orchestral reprise.

Once again, an ideally flowing tempo was found in the Andante second movement. Mendelssohn’s skilful orchestration here finds the soloist often minimally accompanied by lower string pizzicato chords, timpani strokes and solo woodwind lines interrupted by full orchestral surges, here given with no shortage of passion. After a sighing intermezzo, the playful finale was heralded by trumpet fanfares (players sporting suitably Germanic instruments). In contrast with the previous movements, this is music to make you smile. There were plenty of smiles from Skride, who wore her virtuosity lightly, and her accompanists. The lovely counter-melody as played by the cellos and horn in unison was just one example of Mendelssohn’s delights given a sublime performance.”     …

.

.

Review by Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource:

Click here for full review

…     “Numbering of Mendelssohn’s symphonies by no means reflects their order of composition, making the ‘Italian’ (1832) the Third rather than the Fourth. Surprising that this piece went unpublished in his lifetime – perhaps reflecting doubts over what can seem more an illustrative symphonic suite. In Gardner’s hands, the opening Allegro was finely propelled yet with the right emphasis on its suave second theme and some incisive string playing in the contrapuntal build-up at the start of the development: a pity he omitted the exposition repeat – as, with its lengthy transition back to the main theme, this is one of the few symphonic repeats that ought to be mandatory. The Andante brought its twin aspects of marching Pilgrims and capering counterpoint into purposeful accord, then its successor had a poise and elegance as befits this most deft of intermezzos (with evocative horn playing in the trio). Gardner rightly underlined rhythmic contrast between the finale’s saltarello and tarantella themes, while the surge to the A minor close could hardly have been more unequivocal.

Unlike most of his symphonies, Mendelssohn’s E minor Violin Concerto (1844) has never fallen out of favour. A work that takes its composer’s formal and expressive concerns to a virtual peak of perfection can too easily be taken for granted, making this account from Baiba Skride (replacing an indisposed Veronika Eberle) the more compelling. Her rapport with Gardner was evident from the outset, though it was in her fluid rendering of the first movement’s developmental cadenza that this performance really hit its stride: one maintained during a plaintively expressive Andante, which unfolded with an almost barcarolle-like gait in its outer sections and with no lack of pathos in its central section, then throughout a finale whose spirited progress evinced no trace of the blandness that so often mars this understatedly innovative music. Only a touch of edginess in the more bracing passagework prevented this reading from being among the finest, while Gardner’s adept accompaniment enabled one to savour the incidental detail and counter-melodies as brought out in the orchestral writing.”     …

.

.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “The opening programme paired the Fourth and Fifth symphonies. Gardner’s civilised account of the Fourth, the Italian, was a fine example of modern-orchestra Mendelssohn playing: deft and light-textured, with crisp articulation from the strings and woodwind that was well defined but never over-highlighted. But the Fifth, the Reformation, seemed much more interesting. It’s an earlier work, despite the numbering, composed in 1830 to mark the tercentenary of the founding of the Lutheran church, with beefed up scoring, a first movement punctuated by appearances of the Dresden Amen as otherworldly as any in Wagner’s Parsifal, and a finale based on a Bach chorale, the strangness of which Gardner made no attempt to disguise.”     …

.

.

Review by Roderic Dunnett, SeenandHeard. MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “Each of Gardner’s pacings served this cause well. The Italian’s opening had not just vernal bounce but rare restraint, authority. The Town Hall’s acoustic seems a little clipped; perhaps that too doesn’t help the upper strings. The Andante con moto with its lovely legato over light-stepped double basses (like bowed pizzicato) enchanted; it is a march that has Harold in Italy written all over it,  except that the Berlioz’s actually followed some two years later (in 1834).

The Reformation’s weighty opening movement reminds us of Mendelssohn’s mentors – just as Beethoven in the Italian, here Weber (Euryanthe, especially Lysiart’s double aria) and a symbiosis with his friend Schumann. Gardner has a wonderful way of effecting quite tricky link passages with minimal fuss. At four points in both Fourth and Fifth symphonies, they just happened. He anticipates – rehearsal has proved its worth – and they just do it. All bodes well for the recording.

The brass delivered with restraint, but not without the Reformation suggesting Lohengrin on the way (not just in their affecting Dresden Amen). The extended flute solo, some wonderfully articulated clarinet work, and the unexpected weight of Margaret Cookhorn’s admirable contra bassoon produced an exciting kaleidoscope of colour.

Add in the beauty and elegance of Skride and Gardner exploring the Violin Concerto, in which the slow passages of the first movement outshone even the eloquence of the Andante – sensationally linked by Greta Tuls’ serene, rather than forlorn, bassoon, and you can sense an evening of majesty, suspense and yes, even holiness. I felt lucky to be there.”

.

.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

“Last-minute replacements always add drama to events, and Saturday afternoon was no exception, when violinist Baiba Skride was jetted in from Latvia at the eleventh hour to join the CBSO in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

Skride is a huge favourite with both the orchestra and its audience, and the ovation she received at the end of a lovely, singing and elfin performance was huge and well-deserved.

Every phrase Skride delivered was pulsating, repetitions subtly differentiated, high notes smiling into the stratosphere, and, despite minimal rehearsal, conductor Edward Gardner and the CBSO breathed as one with her.

Mendelssohn himself, an almost-palpable presence in this Town Hall over whose earliest years he was so much an influence, would have loved this, the centrepiece of a concert opening a series of all five of his symphonies under Gardner’s baton, four of them in this sacred venue.”     …

*****

CBSO Benevolent Fund Concert

Thursday 13 December 2012 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0603

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Baiba Skride violin
Daniel Müller-Schott cello
Lars Vogt piano

Beethoven: Triple Concerto, Op.56 34′
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) 47′ Listen on Spotify

The Birmingham Beethoven Cycle: The Eroica

Two chords slam out, and music will never be the same again. Beethoven’s mighty Eroica Symphony changed the course of musical history – but it’s not just a gripping musical portrait of the Age of Revolution. It’s a profoundly moving human drama, and in this concert devoted to the CBSO Benevolent Fund*, expect Andris Nelsons to find every last drop of emotion. And three musical superstars come together to give Beethoven’s playful Triple Concerto the ride of its life!

The CBSO Benevolent Fund, registered friendly society 735F, exists to support CBSO players and staff, past and present, at times of ill-health or other hardship

www.cbso.co.uk

Sponsored by Barclays

.

Article about CBSO Benevolent Fund by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full article

.

Review by Rohan Shotton, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “I have never seen a group of players enjoy playing together so visibly as pianist Lars Vogt, violinist Baiba Skride and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott. Each would sway gently and lean towards the others for musical dialogue. Their clear rapport imbued the performance with an infectious sense of fun whilst achieving perfect coordination in their ensemble. Clearly they all wanted to be there: none of the soloists, conductor or orchestra took a fee for this concert in aid of the orchestra’s benevolent fund. Each displayed a palette of controlled pianissimo and exuberant bravado. Beethoven gives the cellist the dominant role, and Müller-Schott played beautifully. His handling of the second movement’s lyrical melody was magnificent, and Skride’s hushed violin accompaniment was a subtle icing.”     …

.

Review by Clive Peacock, Leamington Courier:

Click here for full review

…     “In recent months we have become familiar with Baiba Skride’s skills as a violinist. The cello performance by Daniel Müller-Schott was nothing short of astonishing and Lars Vogt’s piano contributions were an important element in maintaining the balance. The orchestra responded well to Nelsons’ demands for changes of pace and the overall togetherness produces, at times, a spine-chilling intensity. Baskets of flowers were duly presented to soloists in recognition of a truly memorable performance.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) is a milestone in the composer’s maturity. The work is full of creative energy, indeed, and with Nelsons in charge, the last movement was an outpouring of creative energy. Having recognised individual contributions by Marie-Christine Zupancic (flute) and Rainer Gibbons (oboe), Nelsons acknowledged the sustained, accurate responses of timpani player, Peter Hill.”     …

.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “It was the most revealing examination of his credentials as a Beethoven interpreter so far – the Eroica Symphony – and if Nelsons did not emerge totally triumphant from the test, his performance had more than enough moments of surging power and intensity to suggest that when it is fully achieved his reading will be one to reckon with.

At present it’s the outer movements, especially the first, that are the most impressive. The explosive power of the fabulously precise tutti chords in the opening exposition set the tone for a movement that seemed to be conceived in a single, giant breath, while the elements of the finale were all shaped towards the equally explosive outburst of energy in the closing coda.”     …

 

.

 

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Andris Nelsons and his willing orchestra gave us a lithe, well-weighted and totally appreciative account of this wonderful work. Horns (Beethoven augmented them for the first-ever expressive reason in a symphony – Haydn and Mozart’s examples of four horns were for technical expediency) were nobly magnificent, woodwinds were eloquent, and strings were deliciously responsive to Nelsons’ often baton-less beat.

This was so well paced, climaxes arriving inevitably and so judiciously. No wonder Nelsons clapped his players at the end, and, gods be praised, this performance has been captured by |Orfeo for future CD release.”

The Birmingham Beethoven Cycle: Symphonies 1 and 2

Wednesday 19 September 2012 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0603

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Baiba Skride violin

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 25′ Listen on Spotify
Beethoven: Violin Concerto 42′ Listen on Spotify
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 34′ Listen on Spotify

The symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven are the greatest journey any conductor and orchestra can take together. All of human experience is contained in these nine life-changing masterpieces. Here, Andris Nelsons and the CBSO begin that journey with the joyous First and Second Symphonies: the sound of a bold young genius stretching his wings, and ruffling a few feathers. Birmingham favourite Baiba Skride is the soloist in the glowing serenity of Beethoven’s ravishing Violin Concerto.

To see the full Birmingham Beethoven Cycle, go to www.birminghambeethoven.co.uk.

Sponsored by BarclaysThe Birmingham Beethoven Cycle is being supported by Barclays and through the generosity of Miss Brant, a lifelong supporter of the CBSO who died recently.     www.cbso.co.uk

Baiba Skride with the CBSO video clip here

.

.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “The Second Symphony ended the concert, and the performance had the authentic Nelsons hallmarks from the start – the tightly coiled energy powering every phrase, the carefully delineated detail, the effortless sense of an organic whole – enough to suggest that he will be more than ready to meet the bigger challenges to come later in the series. Between the two symphonies there was more Beethoven, with Nelsons’ fellow Latvian Baiba Skride as soloist in the Violin Concerto. If the performance lacked the excitement that Skride has brought to 20th-century works, its bittersweet mixture of exuberance and lyrical reflection seemed entirely right.”     …

 

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

Click here for full review

…     “At the end of the first movement of Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony, he made a chopping gesture for each emphatic chord, just as a child would if asked to imitate a conductor. He crouched down for the hushed passages, reached an imperious, trembling hand on high to fix a triumphant moment, and made great scooping gestures to mould a melody, as if he were sculpting it in clay.

It was riveting to behold, so much so it was actually hard to distinguish the sight of Nelsons from the sound of the music.”     …

 

Review by Anthony Arblaster, Independent:

Click here for full review

…     “If you vaguely supposed that the Beethovenian revolution only took off with the third symphony, the “Eroica”, this concert would have made you think again. It took in the first two symphonies, framing the later Violin Concerto. True, the First Symphony shows the powerful influence of Haydn, but there is plenty of the younger composer’s individuality in it, including his unique use of a drum roll in the slow movement, and a so-called minuet that is unmistakably a fully fledged, upward-rushing scherzo.”     …