Abrahamsen and Mahler

Thursday 28th April, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Debussy (orch. Abrahamsen)  Children’s Corner , 16′
  • Hans Abrahamsen  Left, alone (CBSO co-commission, UK premiere), 20′
  • Mahler  Symphony No. 4, 55′

Gustav Mahler never wrote anything happier than his Fourth Symphony. Jangling sleighbells, Mozart-like melodies, and a child’s vision of heaven… if it almost sounds too sweet, trust Ilan Volkov to find the black comedy beneath the playful surface. First, though, we’ve a charming new version of Debussy’s Children’s Corner – and the first UK performance of a new piano concerto, specially written for tonight’s soloist by the Danish sonic magician Hans Abrahamsen.

CBSO+ 6.15pm Hans Abrahamsen will be interviewed before his UK premiere by CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock.

CBSO Membership

BBC Radio 3 Live in Concert – Available here on iPlayer for thirty days

.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

“The CBSO has a proud history of premiering new work, and its latest offering proved an absolute triumph.

“Left, alone” is the apt title, both witty and sad, of Hans Abrahamsen’s Concerto for Piano Left Hand, a CBSO co-commission with orchestras in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, and was written in response to the composer’s weakness in his own right hand. Like the Ravel Left Hand concerto, it begins in the nether regions, but unlike the French work’s grumblings, here it flickers in paroxysms of rhythmic energy, ducking and diving in and out between varying orchestral textures.

Orchestral detail — including the grim presence of another piano — teems with activity, impeccably marshalled by Ilan Volkov’s baton, and throughout this 20-minute piece, the proportions of its six movements perfectly judged, the soloist (Alexandre Tharaud here) is a poignant presence of immense character and dignity.”     …

.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “Abrahamsen himself was born with restricted use of his right hand so that, as he says, he has always had a “a close relationship” with those piano works, like the Ravel concerto, composed for left hand alone. None of those pieces, though, deals with the challenge of writing such a work in the way that Left, Alone does so memorably. As the title suggests, it’s music of solitariness, in which the piano’s lonely melodic line (which only very rarely becomes chordal) weaves its way through the glittering and grumbling thickets of canons and cross rhythms that the orchestra creates, trying to establish its own identity. It regularly finds itself stranded, without support, and only in the last of the six short movements is there some kind of reconciliation between the two.

All this takes place in the special airy sound world that Abrahamsen has invented for himself, full of textures that can hang suspended in the orchestral stratosphere or plunge at any moment to the lowest depths that instruments can inhabit. Before the concerto, too, there was the chance to hear that world taken on in the work of another supreme musical colourist, as Volkov conducted Abrahamsen’s orchestration of Debussy’s Children’s Corner, which renders that suite of piano pieces into astonishing miniature tours de force, each one with its own carefully defined range of sonorities, that seem at the same time to belong to two very different musical worlds.”     …

.

Review by Richard Bratby, TheArtsDesk:

Click here for full review

…     Ilan Volkov conducted with pinpoint precision, and the CBSO supported Tharaud with playing of breathtaking transparency and refinement. Transfixingly beautiful and charged with unspoken emotion, Left, alone doesn’t so much end as cease to be audible. It deserves the same success as Abrahamsen’s Grawemeyer Award-winning song cycle let me tell you (due to be performed by the CBSO and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla at this summer’s Proms). For now, congratulations are due to the CBSO for co-commissioning a work that should by rights become a modern classic.

After the interval, Volkov deployed all his alertness and ear for texture in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. More than that: beginning with sleighbells in strict time, he made the cod-Mozart opening theme as graceful and springy as a ballet. From there on in, this was Mahler in inverted commas – all knowing irony and brisk, bold gestures. That gave the scherzo a hallucinatory quality, with long string slides offset by honking clarinets and tangy, low vibrato solos from leader Ioana Petcu-Colan. In the third movement Volkov held the cellos’ opening theme poised above its pizzicato bass like the slow movement of Schubert’s string quintet; later he unleashed huge sweeps of horn and violin sound with the same crisp beat. And then on came Sarah Tynan in full storytelling mode, gazing around the hall, glancing conspiratorially up at the audience and all the while colouring Mahler’s “child’s vision of heaven” with luminous warmth darkened by just a hint of boyishness.

Volkov and the CBSO supported Tynan with the same delicacy and care they’d brought to the concerto; and at the start of the concert, Abrahamsen’s orchestration of Debussy’s Children’s Corner. These arrangements were lovely, poignant things. Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum became a lush prelude, the tuba commented on Jimbo’s Lullaby and a lone castanet clicked comically and just a little sadly in the Serenade of the Doll. On paper, it looked like a throwaway opener. But by the time Left, alone had told its tale and Tynan’s wide eyed child was marvelling at her heavenly fruitbowl, it made perfect sense. Few conductors have more eclectic tastes than Volkov, and few plan their programmes with more intelligence and care. Under his direction, every part of this concert clicked perfectly into focus.”

.

Review by Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource:

Click here for full review

…     “Abrahamsen the arranger was in evidence at the start of this concert, his 2012 orchestration of Debussy’s Children’s Corner (1908) well-removed from the familiar one by André Caplet. In essence this comes down to texture, with Abrahamsen eschewing the picturesque in favour of something plangent and restrained, most evident in the heaving pathos of ‘Jimbo’s Lullaby’ or distanced eloquence of ‘The Little Shepherd’. Not that the high-jinks of ‘Golliwog’s Cakewalk’ was passed over, its capering humour rounded off this insinuating version and perceptive reading of it.

An unusually well-planned concert ended with Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (1900), once the most-often-heard of this cycle in the UK (the Birmingham orchestra giving only its second performance here in 1927) and whose blend of the sardonic and naivety was duly brought out by Volkov – not least in a first movement that found a secure formal trajectory without sacrificing charm or humour. If the deadpan irony of the Scherzo could have been greater (though leader Ioana Petcu-Colan handled its scordatura with aplomb), and the trios’ easy rapture was ideally caught.

Nor was there much to quibble over in a slow movement which, while avoiding the grandeur summoned by Rudolf Schwarz in a fondly remembered account with the CBSO over three decades ago, traced a convincing course across its developing variations through to a climax of celestial radiance and a coda of heartfelt repose. Sarah Tynan was affecting and never merely cloying in the Finale’s setting of ‘Das himmlische Leben’ – not least during those evanescent closing pages with their promise of benediction in some hereafter.”

.

Review by Robert Gainer, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “This impression was the exact opposite of that created by the first piece of the evening, Debussy’s Children’s Corner, which only goes to show how just how versatile Abrahamsen is as an orchestral arranger. Originally written for piano it was arranged for orchestra by André Caplet in 1911, and this is the version with which most of us are likely to be familiar. This arrangement by Abrahamsen was refreshing, much more subtle and sophisticated than Caplet’s, yet also more vivid. The famous final movement for example, The Golliwogg’s Cakewalk, was coherent as an orchestral piece in its own right rather than merely an orchestrated transcription of a piano rag. Unlike Left, alone, the whole six-movement suite had a continuously warm yet appropriately light and witty ambiance.

The second half of the concert was Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 in G major. Again a creditable performance by Maestro Volkov and the CBSO, though I did feel the first two movements were a little sterile. Yes, the strings were sumptuous and there was nothing I could fault in the conducting or playing, just that I was unmoved. It was all a little bit too safe. However, by the third movement I began to transcend my critical ear and lose myself in the beauty of Mahler’s blue sky vision, ascending heaven-bound. This is what Mahler wanted to achieve, and the CBSO delivered. Soprano soloist Sarah Tynan put in a perfectly measured invitation to the heavenly-realm and Volkov, once he finally had the hall in the grasp of his hand, did not let it slip. By the end I was entranced. “

.

Review by Rebecca Franks, The Times (££):

Click here for full review (££)

“I felt as if I had stepped out of time in this concert. Hans Abrahamsen’s new concerto, Left, alone, is weightless and otherworldly, as stark, soft, radiant and magical as fresh snow. Each movement seems to hang in the air. Even its composer, who took his bows after the flawless UK premiere with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the soloist Alexandre Tharaud and the conductor Ilan Volkov, had the air of a magician with access to unimagined realms.”     …

.

Blog post by “Doundou Tchil”, Classical-Iconoclast:

Click here for full blog

…     “Abrahamsen’s music listens, as a child listens, with purity and wonder.  It’s alert to the kind of quiet detail that gets missed in a world of white noise and bluster. A child doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. He or she can marvel, without precondition.  One of my friends hated Abrahamsen’s Schnee (2007) because it “feels like watching snow fall”, but for me that’s precisely what I love about Abrahamsen.  Buddhists believe that the path to wisdom lies in divesting oneself of Self and the need to control. Abrahamsen’s music examines sounds from different angles and, importantly, through silence, the antithesis of mental muzak 

In Abrahamnsen’s Left, Alone the concept “the sound of one hand clapping” is uniquely realized.   Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand was written for Paul Wittgenstein who lost his right hand in war.    Perhaps it carries the memory of a lost limb, as often happens to amputees. Abrahamsen’s piece feels, however, like an exploration of something entirely imagined. Left, Alone moves through a series of six vistas, dark rumblings on the lower keys to bright outbursts in the orchestra. Single notes on percussion blocks tempt the piano forth. At first the piano sounds tentative, as if exploring space. A surge of strings from the orchestra, then a long passage of semi-silence. In fact there are several, passages of semi-silence, each one different, so you have to pay attention. Eventually the piano finds its voice, stabbing exuberantly at the keys, the whole orchestra  animated in support. Having thus found itself, the piano can return to quietude. Single notes are played, repeatedly. A huge arc of sound from the orchestra, a frenzy of sparkling notes: piano, percussion, winds and strings together. The pace intensifies, bubbling along cheerfully.  Not having a right hand is not funny, but the protagonist triumphs, nonetheless. Alexandre Tharaud was the soloist.  Preceding Left, Alone was Abrahamsen’s orchestration of Debussy Childrens Corner. The connections are clear: six vignettes unified by playful imagination.”     …

.

 

 

Schumann’s Piano Concerto

Sunday 10th January, 2016, 3.00pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Debussy Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, 10′
  • Schumann Piano Concerto, 31′
  • Sibelius  Lemminkäinen Suite, 50′

Beatrice Rana’s encore – Schumann trans. Liszt – Widmung
.
We may be in the depths of winter, but these three romantic narratives by composers barely into their thirties should warm the hardest of hearts. Debussy’s faun and Sibelius’s hero are the stuff of legend, their unrequited love expressed in music that is by turns languid, passionate and thrilling. Schumann’s feelings for Clara were only too real, and had been strongly opposed by her father: but once they were finally married, he poured his feelings into this gorgeous concerto. To perform these three youthful masterpieces we are joined by two outstanding young artists: a superb pianist and a conductor who caused quite a stir on her UK debut with the CBSO last summer.
.
.
Has CBSO finally found its next Music Director,
article/ review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post :
Click here for full article
…     “So on the second Sunday in January Mirga reappeared, conducting a programme which put so many skills to the test: phrasing with a flexibility which allowed orchestral soloists to make telling contributions, collaborating with a young pianist in one of the world’s best-known concertos (and one not without its pitfalls), and making sense of the jagged structures and kaleidoscopic colours of a gritty large-scale work.She triumphed spectacularly, to huge audience acclaim (and it was a nice bonus to hear the measured clarity of her speaking voice as she informed us of a change in movement-order), and the players seemed highly enthused, too.It helps that she so obviously enjoys conducting, relishing the partnership she shares with her colleagues. It was charming to see her beaming and silently applauding the delivery of important solos, and to see her beaming with pleasure as every effect came off successfully.”      …
.
Review by Richard Bratby, ArtsDesk:
Click here for full review
…     “What Gražinytė-Tyla achieved, then, was all the more remarkable. Her ultra-precise beat and balletic podium manner have attracted unfavourable comment from people who fundamentally misunderstand how an orchestra responds to a conductor – or who simply can’t listen. That Gražinytė-Tyla has a distinctive vision – and the power to realise it – was obvious from the rapturous opening bars of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune in which she coaxed the strings to match both the colour and texture of Marie-Christine Zupancic’s daringly-soft opening flute solo, and went on to generate an unfolding sense of wonder in which even the rests felt like part of the phrasing: hanging, pregnant with expression, in a breathlessly quiet Symphony Hall.
Sibelius’s four Lemminkäinen Legends made good on the Debussy’s promise. Gražinytė-Tyla has a powerful sense of the single culminating point of a large-scale musical structure, and the idea that these four tone-poems add up to a thinly-disguised symphony has rarely felt so convincing, with Gražinytė-Tyla reversing the conventional order of the two central pieces so that Lemminkäinen in Tuonela became a slow, macabre scherzo, and the dying notes of The Swan of Tuonela served as a sort of prelude to the first drumbeats of Lemminkäinen’s Homecoming. Throughout, Gražinytė-Tyla drew out and relished each fantastical detail of Sibelius’s scoring: snare-drum rattling against a pianissimo rustle of violins, the gurgling woodwind laughter of the maidens of Saari, and the impressionistic blur of sound that introduced Rachael Pankhurst’s tender, improvisatory cor anglais solo in The Swan of Tuonela.
And yet the pacing remained taut, the cumulative build-up and release of energy overwhelming – and the players, leaning into their stands and exchanging discreet smiles, seemed energised.”     …
.Review by Hedy Mühleck, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “She allowed complete freedom in the  wide, soft opening flute lines of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune , and moulded the CBSO with elegant movements not unlike those of a dancer. She established an atmosphere of great calm without losing the sense of underlying excited tension and shimmering of heat.

23-year-old pianist Beatrice Rana completed the line-up and seemed ideal casting for Schumann’s only completed piano concerto that had been written for – and championed by – Schumann’s wife Clara. While the opening call to attention and the following lines were slightly blurred by a lot of pedal, her playing was remarkably unobtrusive, her movements minimal and modest, her phrasing clear. Supported by a softer orchestral tone with strong emotional focus, she floated through the first movement with only the briefest instance of rush when an immense distance on the keyboard just could not be travelled safely without use of a small rubato.

She brought out the sweeping upwards lines in the Allegro vivace with a round, full-bodied sound despite distinctly unpretentious playing. It drew all strength of stroke from her fingers and wrists, supported by the forearms; hardly ever did she use the full arm, let alone body for emphasis, gestures remained small, the wrists only lifting slightly to breathe. Minor ensemble issues where the melodic line appears in the orchestra and, in ornamented form, in the piano, were quickly caught and made for a stirring close, complemented by an equally wonderful encore, Liszt’s transcription of Schumann’s Widmung.”     …

.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is a 29-year-old Lithuanian, who is currently assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She conducted the CBSO for the first time last July, and made such an impression with the orchestra and the audience that she was invited back for this specially arranged concert.

It was easy to understand why she has gone down so well in Birmingham. Her platform style is certainly distinctive: Gražinytė-Tyla began with Debussy’s Prélude à l’Après-Midi d’un Faune, applying the dabs of orchestral colour with sharp stabs of her baton, and sculpting the larger shapes of the music with sweeping gestures. But for once such balletic poses really did communicate something wonderfully alive and detailed to the players, a performance with fresh, clear textures and an unswerving sense of shape.

In Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite, too, there was that same attention to every morsel of detail, and the same knack of moulding each of the four movements into a convincing dramatic shape, even in the opening Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of Saari, which can seem rather unruly. The last movement was built to a terrific climax, too, after she had favoured the alternative ordering for the middle two movements, with the Swan of Tuonela third in the sequence, though that hardly helps the narrative that underpins Sibelius’s scheme.”     …

.

Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “Ms Gražinytė-Tyla reversed the order of the middle two movements, as printed in the programme, so that we heard The Swan of Tuonela third. She may be quite slight of stature but there was no doubting her command in this performance of the Legends. In fact, though the preceding works had shown her in an impressive light I think it was in the Sibelius that she truly came into her own.    

There was conviction and colour aplenty in Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of Saari. The atmosphere of the piece was very well conveyed in an exciting and sometimes powerful performance.  Lemminkäinen in Tuonela is the most dramatic of the four pieces and Ms Gražinytė-Tyla established in the opening bars a high degree of tension which was never lost. I thought this was a gripping performance, especially during the last few minutes, and it seemed to me that both conductor and orchestra displayed a strong understanding of the composer’s sound world. The opening of The Swan of Tuonela was bleak and doleful; Rachel Pankhurst’s cor anglais solos were keening and expressive. The playing of everyone involved in this movement was concentrated and highly controlled. This was eloquent music-making. In Lemminkäinen’s Return his mother has found his slain body and restores him to life, enabling him to ride home in triumph. From the start this performance had terrific drive and energy. The CBSO’s playing was colourful and rhythmically strong, urged on by their highly animated young conductor. Lemminkäinen came home triumphantly.

This was a terrific concert containing three highly contrasted, expertly delivered performances. Musically, each performance was extremely satisfying. On this evidence Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is already a highly accomplished conductor who genuinely has something to say about the music she conducts. It seemed to me that the CBSO responded very positively to her. Who knows how the process of the selection of the CBSO’s new principal conductor will pan out? But whatever the outcome I hope we shall see much more of this exciting young conducting talent in Birmingham. 

 

 

 

Winners of the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition

BICS 2015/16 –

Valery Gergiev conducts the Winners of the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 Concert Package,
SoundBite, Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 and Competitions highlights

Wednesday 28th October

Symphony Hall

Mariinsky Orchestra
Valery Gergiev conductor
Lucas Debargue piano
Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar baritone
Clara-Jumi Kang violin
George Li piano
Yulia Matochkina mezzo soprano
Alexander Ramm cello

Debussy Prélude à l’après midi d’un faune 10’
Tchaikovsky Variations on a Roccoco Theme 18’
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor 28’
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 (2nd Movement)
Verdi Overture to La forza del Destino 8’
Tchaikovsky Joan’s aria from Maid of Orleans 7’
Tchaikovsky Yeletsky’s aria from Queen of Spades 6’
Liszt Piano Concerto No 1 in E flat major 19’

.

Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra are bywords for energy, passion and the kind of red-blooded, life-or-death commitment that only Russian artists can deliver. And in Tchaikovsky’s anniversary year, the Competition named after him is still probably the world’s most prestigious music contest.

XV International Tchaikovsky Competition winners
The six winners that will be performing were announced in July 2015 from each of the following categories: piano, violin, cello, male voice, female voice and are as follows:

Exclusive:The artist Norman Perryman, whose paintings of conductors and soloists (including Valery Gergiev) are displayed throughout Symphony Hall, has a new book, which is currently on sale at the Symphony Hall shop. Norman will be signing copies as well as prints from the shop before and after this concert. For more on this click here.

.

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

Click here for full review

…     “French pianist Lucas Debargue only managed 4th prize, but seized everyone’s attention at the competition, and his sensational performance here of Scarbo from Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit showed why. He portrayed the sinister apparitions of the magic dwarf Scarbo with a fevered intensity that made one’s skin prickle.

Just as impressive in a different way was Clara-Jumi Kang, a German violinist of Korean parentage. Like Debargue she won only 4th prize, a decision which seems even more mystifying in the light of her performance last night of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. To capture this work’s impetuous energy and undercurrent of sadness, all within a tone of relaxed seraphic grace is a feat very few violinists can manage, but she is certainly one of them.

To see the final rounds of this year’s Tchaikovsky Competition, visit tch15.medici.tv/en

Stephen Hough in Recital

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 Concert Package,
SoundBite, Piano Highlights and Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16

Monday 26th October, 2015

Symphony Hall

Stephen Hough piano

Schubert Sonata in A minor D784 22’
Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue 22’
Debussy Estampes 13’
Liszt Valse Oubliées Nos 1 and 2 3’ & 6’
Transcendental Etude No 11 (harmonies du soir) 10’
Transcendental Etude No 10 5’

.

Stephen Hough is a phenomenon: a pianist of astonishing technical skill with the ability to find profundity in even the flashiest of keyboard fireworks. Tonight he traces the darkness-to-light journeys of three great pianist-composers, and gives a recital that explores every side of his artistic personality: thinker, creator and consummate virtuoso.

Romantic Journeys

ThumbnailCBSO 2020Relax and Revitalise

Thursday 2nd October 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Ryan Wigglesworth  conductor/piano
Sarah Tynan  soprano

Sibelius: The Oceanides 10′
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9, K271 31′
Listen on Spotify

Wigglesworth: Augenlider 16′ Watch on YouTube

Debussy: La mer 23′
Listen on Spotify
Watch on YouTube

Mozart composed, directed and performed his own music. So does the remarkable young British musician Ryan Wigglesworth, and the 21-year old Mozart’s lively piano concerto is just one of the delightful waypoints on tonight’s musical voyage of discovery: a concert that begins on Sibelius’s sunlit Mediterranean and ends in Debussy’s storm-tossed English Channel – by way of Wigglesworth’s own, glittering homage to the Romantics.

If you like this concert, you might also like:
Mediterranean Classics, Wednesday 22nd October
The Planets: CBSO Youth Orchestra, Sunday 2nd November
Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Thursday 16th April, 2015 & Saturday 18th April, 2015

.

.

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “True, there were often times in his richly complex score (think Berg laced with Birtwistle) when even the impressive lung power of the excellent Sarah Tynan was overwhelmed; but in its quieter sections – the recitative-like Visionen against unison violins, and the closing moments of the final song – Wigglesworth’s approach to timbre and texture showed considerable imagination.

And this ear for instrumental detail made a vivid listening experience of the sea-themed works at the beginning and end of the programme. The Oceanides of Sibelius may have seemed a bit wait-and-see, but Debussy’s La Mer grabbed and held the attention throughout. Wigglesworth certainly pulled no punches to convey the visceral excitement of the storm-tossed finale, but it was the sparkling Jeux de vagues that provided the most polished, nuanced playing of the evening.”

The Organ Symphony

Thumbnail                  Raise the Roof

Thursday 30 January 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Kazuki Yamada  conductor

Francesco Piemontesi  piano

Stephen Farr  organ

Fauré: Pelleas and Melisande – Suite 19′

Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini 24′

Widor: Toccata 6′

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 (Organ) 35′

Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube

Francesco Piemontesi’s encore –  

Debussy – La Cathédrale engloutie

You   might have heard it in the film Babe, but trust us – when the Symphony   Hall organ crashes in at the end of Saint-Saëns’ mighty Organ Symphony   you won’t be thinking about talking pigs! It’s a long way from the gentle perfumes   of Fauré’s lovely Pelleas and Melisande suite – though when Kazuki Yamada   joins forces with the award-winning pianist Francesco Piemontesi in Rachmaninov’s   superromantic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, there’ll be fireworks   aplenty amidst the poetry.

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, Thursday   6th March

Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony, Wednesday   12th March

Andris and Håkan in Concert, Wednesday   28th May

.

.

Review by DPM, WeekendNotes:

Click here for full review

…     “And under the baton of conductor Kazuki Yamada, the Organ Symphony was confident and majestic, sweeping all before it.

Farr was also able to reveal his talents with Widor’s Toccata from his Organ Symphony No 5, a rich and colourful piece which really allows any organist the chance to revel in his, or her, skills.

When it comes to dexterity, pianist Francesco Piemontesi had it at his fingertips as he masterfully handled Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. One moment he was playing lightly with the orchestra, passing the musical baton back and forth, the next he was duelling with them, taking control of Rachmaninov’s delightful variations.

Beginning the programme was Fauré’s Pelleas and Melisande Suite in which the composer takes us on a journey through the doomed romance of the famous lovers.

Yamada had an easy rapport with the CBSO, clearly comfortable with all of the pieces of music and enjoying the experience of working with the orchestra. And the performance met with rapturous applause from a packed Symphony Hall.”

.

.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review  (disagree with almost entire review – rare!)

…     “CBSO woodwind soloists can never fail to be eloquent, nor the strings (even if reduced by one desk each) deep-toned and agile, but the total effect was disappointing.

Similarly workmanlike was Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, another of the CBSO’s calling-cards. Yamada’s opening was crisp, he ensured a smooth flow throughout the sequence of variations, and he secured a warm empathy between the elegant orchestra and the well-weighted pianism of soloist Francesco Piemontesi.”     …

.

.

Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “In this performance, conducted by Kazuki Yamada, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was so enthusiastic it risked drowning out the actual organ – which is no mean feat.

At the hands of Stephen Farr, the organ just about won out, but it was a hard-pitched battle. As the orchestra reached its triumphant conclusion even the audience felt a little exhausted by the energy.

Farr did have his moment in the sun with Widor’s Toccata from his Organ Symphony No 5, a rich and colourful piece which really allows any organist the chance to revel in his, or her, skills.

When it comes to dexterity, pianist Francesco Piemontesi had it at his fingertips as he masterfully handled Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. One moment he was playing lightly with the orchestra, passing the musical baton back and forth, the next he was duelling with them, taking control of Rachmaninov’s delightful variations.”     …

CBSO Youth Orchestra

  • Thumbnail           Discover

Sunday 3 November 2013 at 3.30pm

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

CBSO Youth Orchestra

Ilan Volkov   conductor

Allison Bell  soprano

Debussy: La Mer 23′ Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube
Messiaen: Poèmes pour Mi 27′

Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 31′

Sibelius’s   Fifth Symphony was inspired by a flight of swans. Debussy was drunk on the beauty   of the sea. And the young Messiaen put all his love for his new wife into nine   blissful songs. Gorgeous colours and big, big emotions: exactly what the CBSO   Youth Orchestra does best. So join Ilan Volkov and our superb young players   and share the joy of discovery, as together they bring this glorious music vibrantly   to life.  www.cbso.co.uk

If you like this concert, you might also like:

The Organ Symphony, Thursday 30th January 2014

CBSO Youth Orchestra, Sunday 23rd February 2014

Andris and Håkan in Concert, Wednesday 28th May 2014

.

.

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “A singer without Allison Bell’s power and projection might have been overwhelmed by so much orchestral posturing (which Volkov admittedly did little to minimise), but this remarkable soprano coped with everything thrown at her, grabbing every opportunity for expressive display and, notably in the Alleluias of the first song, rejoicing in the sheer voluptuousness of the music.

After such hot stuff the exposed scoring of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5 left the players with little room to hide. Volkov’s cogently paced reading, though, was very persuasive, even if some individual contributions lacked added value. The finale in particular had a compelling sense of progression – and those wonderful hammer blows were perfectly executed.”