Weller Conducts Strauss and Brahms

Thursday 30th October 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Walter Weller  conductor
Eduardo Vassallo  cello
Christopher Yates  viola

Strauss: Don Quixote 40′
Brahms: Symphony No. 1 45′
Listen on Spotify

We are very sorry to announce that Andris Nelsons has had to withdraw at very short notice from this week’s concerts, Nelsons conducts Strauss and Brahms, due to unforeseen personal circumstances. We are very grateful to Walter Weller who has agreed to take his place.

Battling windmills, flying horses and a very angry herd of sheep… Richard Strauss’s warm-hearted take on the tale of Don Quixote is one of music’s all-time comic masterpieces. Brahms’s First Symphony is made of sterner stuff – but it still tells an epic story of tragedy and hope, crowned by one of the noblest tunes ever written.

The annual Patrons’ Reception takes place afetr this concert. For information, contact Claire Watts on 0121 616 6533.

If you like this concert, you might also like:
Spirit of 1945, Wednesday 19th November
Brahms and Beethoven, Wednesday 25th March & Saturday 28th March
Schubert, Strauss and Dvorak, Thursday 11th June



Review by Peter Marks, Bachtrack:

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…     “The orchestra played handsomely for him and the opening of Strauss’ tone poem showed off many of their fine qualities: creamy, deft woodwind playing and sumptuous-toned strings. This was a measured opening, building slowly to the introduction’s dissonant climax at the moment when Don Quixote “loses his sanity after reading novels about knights, and decides to become a kinght-errant”. From this point in the music, Cervantes’ metamorphosed protagonist is represented by a solo cello.

Soloist, Eduardo Vassallo’s portrayal of Don Quixote was everything it should be: noble and earnest in character. Vassallo was soon joined on his journey by solo violist, Christopher Yates, taking on the character of Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s witless neighbour who agrees to be his squire along the way. Yates’ playing was very fine indeed and it seems a shame to me that the solo violist tends to remain tucked away in the tutti viola section while the cello soloist occupies the chair of a concerto soloist. There is no doubting, however, that the cellist has much the greater part to play in this piece. There was always a strong sense of collaboration between the two players, despite their geographical separation.

There were fine solos from leader Laurence Jackson and Rainer Gibbons, principal oboist, too.”     …



Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

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…     “The CBSO helpfully print in their programmes their performing history of some of the works they play and it was evident from the information about Don Quixote that they’ve quite often performed the work using their principals in the solo roles rather than importing a star cellist. Bravo for that: it’s what Strauss intended. So this evening we had the CBSO’s principal cellist and violist centre stage; indeed, I noted that the last time the orchestra played the work – in 2008 – Eduardo Vassallo and Christopher Yates were the soloists, as they were tonight. Both impressed me. Yates was the principal, though not sole, voice of Sancho Panza. His is not as prominent a role as that of the Don but his contributions were characterful, not least in Variation III, the ‘Conversation between the knight and his squire’.

 The cellist is much more to the fore, though often Strauss’s writing requires him to be more of a primus inter pares within the opulent orchestral textures.  Vassallo played very well indeed. I especially admired his eloquent ruminations in the fifth variation, ‘The knight’s vigil’, where he displayed lovely tone and fine feeling. In the finale Strauss portrays the final regretful musings of his hero, followed by his death. Here Vassalo played the quintessential Straussian melody at the start most expressively and as the work drew to its close he managed the Don’s demise excellently.

 If Vassallo and Yates garnered the main plaudits it should be said also that a good number of their CBSO colleagues grasped most effectively the opportunity for characterful solos and none more so than leader, Laurence Jackson.”     …

Summer Serenade

28 June 2012 at 2.15pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Laurence Jackson violin/director
Christopher Yates viola

Elgar: Serenade for Strings 12′
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola 30′
Barber: Adagio 7′ Listen on Spotify
Dvořák: Serenade for Strings 27′

Some music just says “summer”. Elgar and Dvorák both loved the countryside, and in their lovely Serenades for Strings, you can practically smell the blossom and hear the bees. The CBSO’s leader Laurence Jackson takes his colleagues through the kind of music that musicians love to play – and plays one of the solo parts in Mozart’s magnificent Sinfonia Concertante. And as for Barber’s Adagio – well, there’s a good reason why it features in so many “Relaxing Classics” albums. Enjoy!


Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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“This afternoon sees Chris Yates, co-principal viola with the CBSO, join forces with the orchestra’s concertmaster, Laurence Jackson, for a performance of one of Mozart’s greatest works (and therefore obviously one of the greatest works ever written), the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, K364.  […]

[…]    ““Now, what can I say about Andris’s time so far? It’s like a combination of his two predecessors for me. Flair, burning passion, exquisite intensity coupled with accuracy, hopefully. An unbeatable and almost unbearable sensory satisfaction. Could we ask for more?” “