The Organ Symphony

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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

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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.”

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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.”     …

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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.”     …

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Capuçon Brothers play Fauré, Brahms, Ravel

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2012/13… more events…

Part of Entertaining Erdington… more events…

Monday 29th April

Town Hall, 7:30pm

Renaud Capuçon violin

Gautier Capuçon cello

Michel Dalberto  piano

  Fauré   Piano Trio in D minor 22’
Brahms   Piano Trio No 2 in C 32’
Ravel   Piano Trio in A minor 28’

Following last season’s hugely praised Town Hall concert, the remarkable Capuçon Brothers return by popular demand, this time with pianist Michel Dalberto. They’ve chosen music of graceful, transient beauty by Ravel and Fauré to frame Brahms’s Second Piano Trio, the latter warm, genial and full of musical wisdom.   www.thsh.co.uk

6pm Free pre-concert recital for ticket holders. Winner of the THSH/Birmingham Conservatoire 2012 recital competition, pianist Magdalena Wajdzik plays Chopin, Ravel and Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata.

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Review by Gareth Ceredig, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The technical glitter of the Ravel was delivered with just the right  nonchalant precision, and the third-movement passacaglia’s ascetic aura was  captured effectively in the only genuinely pianissimo piano playing of the  evening.

 Though less overtly virtuosic, Fauré’s late work (completed in 1923) is the  more difficult of the two to bring off in performance, the master mélodiste  tempering the lyricism of the first two movements with an eager, rhythmic finale  that is never quite allowed off the leash.

A lifetime of making music together was evident in the Capuçons’ seamlessly  matched melodic weight and faultless intonation – the opening Allegro ma non  troppo, a miniature masterpiece of sinuous extended phrases and delicate  harmonic shifts, receiving a particularly affectionate performance.”     …

Ex Cathedra: The Face of Humanity

Sunday 17 February 2013 at 4.00pm

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

 

Jeffrey Skidmore conductor
David Briggs organ
Grace Davidson soprano
Greg Skidmore baritone
Ex Cathedra
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Poulenc: Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani 19′
Poulenc: Figure Humaine 21′
Fauré: Requiem 38′ Listen on Spotify

“I wanted to write something different,” said Gabriel Fauré, and his Requiem is exactly that. There’s no terror or rage here: just music of deep peace, tender humanity, and – in the lovely Pie Jesu – transcendent beauty. Birmingham’s world-famous chamber choir joins the CBSO for this very special performance, and marks the 50th anniversary of Poulenc’s death with two very different masterpieces: the powerful Figure Humaine, written in occupied France, and the roof-raising drama of Poulenc’s flamboyant Organ Concerto. www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “The two soloists sang with the choir – a pleasingly collegiate touch – and stepped forward to the front of the choir but behind the orchestra for their solos. Though they were thus positioned further back than one might have expected neither seemed to have the slightest difficulty in projecting their solos. Greg Skidmore has a good, firm baritone which he used to excellent effect in both his solos. Grace Davidson gave a beguiling account of the famous ‘Pie Jesu’. Her tone was warm and pure and her gently beseeching delivery was just right. The choir sang with great finesse and control. Line was always paramount, it seemed, and the diction was excellent throughout. The orchestral playing demonstrated consistent refinement and from my seat in the stalls it appeared that the balance between orchestra and singers was expertly judged. Jeffrey Skidmore’s tempi were always well judged and I appreciated above all the sense of flow that he imparted to the music. The sopranos of Ex Cathedra brought the performance to a perfect conclusion, singing their serene line in the ‘In Paradisum’ with radiant purity. This set the seal on a very fine and thoughtful performance.”

 

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Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “All 16 acoustic doors were wide open for Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, the organ console being within the orchestra rather than using the main organ loft far above the musicians. Even so, there was a shock as David Briggs’ first unleashed blast filled the massive space.

Conductor Jeffrey Skidmore sensitively controlled balance between soloist and orchestra. ‘On the fringe of religious music’ packed with differing textures: unstoppable energy, quasi jollity, shimmering showers of notes but including heart-stopping Poulenc poignancy.”     …

Duruflé’s Requiem

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Wednesday 22 February 2012 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Simon Halsey conductor
Karen Cargill mezzo-soprano
Benedict Nelson baritone
Robert Johnston harp
CBSO Youth Chorus

Ravel: Introduction and Allegro 11′
Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine 5′
Satie (orch. Debussy): Gymnopédie No. 1 3′
Franck: Panis Angelicus 4′ Listen on Spotify
Satie (orch. Debussy): Gymnopédie No. 3 3′
Fauré: Pavane Op.50 6′
Debussy: Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane 9′
Duruflé: Requiem 41′ Listen on Spotify

Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem – written to console the living – is drenched in pastel colours and haunting melodies. If you like Fauré’s Requiem, we think you’ll fall in love with Duruflé’s exquisite homage. It’s the loveliest blossom in a perfumed bouquet of French miniatures: from the delicate grace of Fauré and Satie, to the sensuous beauty of Debussy and Ravel, this is an evening to savour.   www.cbso.co.uk

To listen to some of the music in this concert, and explore the rest of the season, using our Spotify playlists, click here.

 

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Duruflé’s ‘Requiem’ was a challenging choice for these young singers, but one they rose to and accomplished with considerable aplomb. In fact, hearing this lovely work sung with such tonal openness and clarity of utterance made it sound almost newly minted.

It was certainly not a typical ‘youth choir’ performance, but an often beautiful one – the Agnus Dei, Domine Jesu Christe (Benedict Nelson the fine baritone soloist) and ascending-to-heaven In Paradisum were particularly memorable – with, in the Sanctus and ‘Dies illa, dies irae,’ moments of thrilling drama. And mezzo Karen Cargill (with cellist Ulrich Heinen) gave us a Pie Jesu as gorgeous and sensual as a love duet.”     …