Elgar’s Cello Concerto

with Bergen Philharmonic and Edward Gardner

Tuesday 17th January, 2017 – 7:30pm


Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Edward Gardnerconductor
Truls Mørkcello


GriegPeer Gynt Suite No 1
ElgarCello Concerto
WaltonSymphony No 1


Truls Mørk’s encore – Bach –

Bergen Philharmonic’s encores – Elgar – Nimrod, and Grieg – March of the Trolls


A great Norwegian orchestra meets great British music, as Edward Gardner conducts Grieg, Walton, and Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Truls Mørk is the soloist, and his take on Elgar’s hugely popular concerto is both fresh and deeply thoughtful. Gardner, meanwhile, became Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in 2015. Together, they’ve got a real chemistry – so whether in Walton’s explosive First Symphony or Peer Gynt (by Bergen’s hometown hero Edvard Grieg), expect some serious energy tonight.

6:15pm: Pre-concert conversation with Edward Gardner. This conversation will be signed by a British Sign Language interpreter.

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Performs Mahler Symphony No. 5

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

Saturday 12th March, 2016

Symphony Hall

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko conductor
Simon Trpčeski piano

6:15pm Pre-concert conversation with Vasily Petrenko.
This conversation will be signed by a British Sign Language interpreter

Grieg Lyric Suite Op 54 17’
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2 33’
Mahler Symphony No 5 72’

Simon Trpceski’s encore  with cellist Louisa Tuck – Rachmaninov – Vocalise

Oslo Philharmonic’s encore – Schubert – Moment Musical no. 3 in F Minor (for strings)


Long acclaimed as Scandinavia’s finest orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra has found a fresh energy under its dynamic new music director Vasily Petrenko. In Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, Petrenko and the Oslo Phil will make a compelling pairing; in Rachmaninov, meanwhile, Petrenko and pianist Simon Trpc˘ eski have already been hailed by critics as a ‘dream team’!


Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…    The concerto was Rachmaninov Two, the soloist the much-loved Simon Trpceski (…)playing with a confident rubato and empathy with his collaborators. This was a joint triumph for pianist and orchestra (full-throated strings, eloquent woodwind), Trpceski bringing warmth as well as glitter to rippling passage-work, and always a freshly-minted response to this well-worn work.

Applause from a packed auditorium came in huge waves, rewarded with a lovely encore, Trpceski modestly accompanying cello principal Louisa Tuck in Rachmaninov’s poignant little Vocalise.

Petrenko drew a tight, compact sound from the OPO for Mahler’s mighty Fifth Symphony. Strings dug deep, and the brass soloists (horn, trumpet, trombone), so important throughout this work laden with symbolic imagery, were a constantly commanding presence.”     …




Benjamin Grosvenor: Grieg

  • Thursday 25th February, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra


  • Elgar  Falstaff , 35′
  • Grieg  Piano Concerto , 30′
  • Brahms  Symphony No. 3, 37′

Benjamin Grosvenor’s encore – Dohnányi – Capriccio Op.28 No.6
Benjamin Grosvenor’s playing has been called “a kind of miracle”, and last time he performed with the CBSO, this 23-year old British pianist held Symphony Hall spellbound. You’ve probably heard Grieg’s Piano Concerto before – but never quite like this! It’s the glowing heart of a concert that begins with Elgar’s colourful portrait of Shakespeare’s fat knight and ends in the romantic sunset of Brahms’s ardent Third Symphony..


Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “The young British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor joined the orchestra for Grieg’s Piano Concerto. It’s easy to understand the work’s enduring popularity, not least because the thematic material is so memorable. I realised that it had been some time since I heard the work and I was glad of that because the work came up very freshly here. That said, I think it would have sounded fresh anyway; such was the nature of this performance. I’ve seem Jac van Steen conduct on several occasions in the past and one of many things that has impressed me is the clarity of his direction. Prior to this evening, however, I don’t recall that I’ve seen him conduct a concerto but that clarity was much in evidence and I’m sure it helped tremendously in shaping a keen and responsive account of the orchestral accompaniment.

Grosvenor himself was very impressive. In the first movement he proved himself well equipped for the bravura passages but I was even more taken with the poetry in his playing. The cadenza offered an excellent illustration of both facets. He began it with reflective musing and then gradually increased the power of his playing so that there was a sense of the heroic as the cadenza reached its climax. The lovely slow movement began with gorgeous string playing; the sound was velvety and deep. Grosvenor was delicate and pensive in the early pages of the movement and then later invested the music with plenty of romantic expression. There was fine energy in the dancing music with which the finale opens. Later that tune was gorgeously introduced by principal flute, Marie-Christine Zupancic, her tone making the music sound like a draught of clear spring water. When his turn with the tune arrived Grosvenor relished it, yet there was no self-indulgence to his playing. After a return to the energetic material the apotheosis of the Big Tune had suitable grandeur but was not overblown either by Grosvenor or his conductor.

Following this excellent performance I noticed that it was not just the audience who showed their appreciation: Jac van Steen and the CBSO applauded Grosvenor with genuine enthusiasm. He gave us short, dexterous encore”     …


Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Especially welcome was the inclusion of Elgar’s symphonic study, Falstaff. Elgar was an admirer of Richard Strauss’ works, his tone poems in particular. When I hear Falstaff I can’t help but think of the similarities between the antics of Falstaff and Don Quixote from Strauss’ eponymous tone poem. In both works the protagonist is mostly represented on the cello and this is surely no coincidence. Elgar’s Falstaff is the more serious portly knight from Shakespeare’s Henry IV rather than the comical character featured in the The Merry Wives of Windsor. Though the composer denied overt programmatic content, the music is structured around various episodes featuring Sir John Falstaff and his companion, Prince Hal – heir to the throne.

Jac van Steen wasted no time in establishing Falstaff’s character in musical terms with a confident, swaggering start. It was a joy to see a conductor so very much at home with this orchestra and an orchestra so much at home in this repertoire. Various members of the orchestra excelled in bringing the cowardly knight to life, from a particularly throaty contrabassoon to rude-sounding horns. Later, in the Boar’s Head episode it wasn’t hard to imagine drunken goings on with cantankerous solos from the principal cellist and bassoonist. Van Steen paced the piece excitingly throughout, yet he still found time to appreciate these delicious details in the score.

Grieg’s Piano Concerto is so well known as a concert hall favourite and showpiece that it helps to be reminded what a rich and substantial piece of music it is. Benjamin Grosvenor dispatched those famous opening chords in a serious yet unpretentious manner that was to characterise his interpretation of the piece. After a buoyant orchestral introduction, Grosvenor was off like a rocket. This first movement was always mobile, never rhetorical in his hands. He is an especially attentive musician, always taking care to listen to players accompanying him in the orchestra.”     …



Summer Serenade

ThumbnailRelax and Revitalise

Thursday 5th June 2014 at 2.15pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Laurence Jackson  director / violin

Grieg: Holberg Suite 20′
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 24′
Dvořák: Nocturne in B major 9′
Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings 29′
Listen on Spotify
Watch on YouTube

Once upon a time, serenades were played in the open air. This afternoon, you’ll almost feel the summer sunshine as the CBSO’s leader Laurence Jackson becomes first amongst equals in some of the loveliest music ever penned for a pocket-sized orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s endless melodies and Grieg’s mock-baroque revels frame the teenage Mozart’s most perfect violin concerto; timeless elegance, gentle humour, and tune after tune after tune. All you have to do is relax!

If you like this concert, you might also like:
Bluebeard’s Castle, Wednesday 2nd July



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The Serenade had been preceded by the swaying textures of Dvorak’s tiny, little-known Nocturne, and the programme had begun with Grieg’s endearing Holberg Suite, making us immediately aware of this ensemble’s capacity to deliver, clarity, transparency (I heard here marvels in Grieg’s deployment of the string orchestra I’d never noticed before) and a huge range of sonorities and dynamics.

All of this had been performed with the players standing. They only became seated, plus a neat little wind section, when Laurence Jackson took centre stage as soloist/director of Mozart’s G major Violin Concerto. His reading was urbane but never limp-wristed, his endearing diffidence of manner put spotlight on his perfection of tone and intonation, and the relaxed ease of his bowing.

And natural, unflashy body-language testified to immense trust in his attentive colleagues. There were smiles all round throughout this lovely concert.”


CBSO Benevolent Fund Concert

Wednesday 11 September 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Alexander Vedernikov  conductor

Elisabeth Leonskaja  piano

Glinka: Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila 5′

Grieg: Piano Concerto 30′

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 45′

Elisabeth Leonskaja’s encore – Chopin Nocturne – Op.27 No.2

The horns blast out a savage fanfare; the trumpets scream in reply… Hold tight, because this is Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and you’re about to witness one of the most inspired composers of all time wrestling with his demons in music of overwhelming rawness and passion. It’s thrilling and, as the former music director of the Bolshoi, conductor Alexander Vedernikov has this music pounding through his veins. First, though, in this concert in aid of the CBSO Benevolent Fund*, he joins another living Russian legend, pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, for the altogether gentler pleasures of Grieg’s irresistibly tuneful piano concerto. Great music, for a great cause.

*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. http://www.cbso.co.uk



**Great music for a great cause!**


*** Angie’s Story: CBSO Benevolent Fund – click here ***



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Grieg’s Piano Concerto suffers by its popularity and accessibility to soloists of the third and fourth order. Here instead we relished the remarkable Elisabeth Leonskaja, her steely, well-wrought pianism poised and taut, accents crisply turned, her chording judiciously weighted and balanced, and virtuosity never obtruding itself. This was a reading mixing gesture and intimacy, and what a success it was in this collaboration with Vedernikov’s willing orchestra (flautist Marie-Christine Zupancic delivering evocative solos).

Encores are generally anathema to me, but in this instance Chopin’s D-flat Nocturne was perfect, allowing us to hang onto Leonskaja’s artistry just a little longer.”     …


Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique

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

Part of Entertaining Erdington… more events…

Tuesday 21 May

Symphony Hall

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Neeme Järvi conductor

Boris Berezovsky piano

Arvo Pärt   Silhouette (Hommage à Gustave Eiffel) 7’
Grieg Piano Concerto 30’
Tchaikovsky   Symphony No 6, Pathétique 45’

Boris Berezovsky’s encore with orchestra – Grieg Piano concerto second movement

Orchestra’s encore – Arvo Pärt – Cantus In Memoriam of Benjamin Britten

The tragic Pathétique was written just months before its composer’s suicide. Neeme Järvi conducts this famous Swiss orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s final testament, preceded by Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Arvo Pärt’s coolly beautiful Silhouette, inspired by the Eiffel Tower’s visionary architect.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:

Go on and don’t let anything scare you; you’ve got what it takes – Liszt’s words of encouragement for the 26 year-old Grieg, having just played through a draft of the young Norwegian’s Piano Concerto. From that famous dramatic opening flourish to the energetic final movement, it’s easy to understand the enduring appeal of Grieg’s sole concerto.




Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The main courses were wonderful. Boris Berezovsky’s solo  playing in the Grieg Piano Concerto was so well-integrated as to be almost  unnoticeable (and that is a huge compliment). His reading was questing,  searching, almost improvisatory, and Jarvi’s orchestra responded in kind. Neeme  Jarvi and l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are quite a team; I can think of at  least two other partnerships which had better get off their laurels.”




Review by Verity Quaite, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The arresting opening chords of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor signalled a change in mood, and began even before the applause welcoming soloist Boris Berezovsky to the stage ceased. Immediately captivating, the unassuming Berezovsky looks entirely natural at the piano and delivered an exceptional performance. Sensitive and flexible, Berezovsky flitted between the extravagant dramatism and dreamlike lyricism of the concerto with ease. Supported by an orchestra of responsive musicians, the rapport between soloist and orchestra was evident. A strong horn section and gifted principal flautist overshadowed the single hesitant entry by the orchestra, who, with the understated direction of Järvi, made this a very memorable performance.”     …

Leonskaja Plays Grieg

Saturday 3 November 2012 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Alexander Vedernikov conductor
Elisabeth Leonskaja piano

Sibelius: Karelia Suite 14′ Listen on Spotify
Grieg: Piano Concerto 30′
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1 41′ Listen on Spotify

Elisabeth Leonskaja’s encore – Mozart’s piano Sonata no.12 KV 332 in F Major – Adagio

An angry snarl, an ominous chant, and a doom-laden fanfare – and that’s just the start! When the young Sergei Rachmaninov launched his First Symphony, he didn’t pull his punches. It’s an epic tragedy of fate and desire, poured out in music that burns with passion, and Russian guest conductor Alexander Vedernikov is sure to give it his all. Sibelius’s cheerful Karelia Suite is quite a contrast – and in the hands of the superb Elisabeth Leonskaja, Grieg’s ever-popular Piano Concerto should sparkle like new. www.cbso.co.uk



Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “She exuded an intriguing combination of business-like focus on the task in hand and passion for the music and her instrument. The result was a rare bell-like quality. Ms Leonskaja’s sensitive and masterful playing was complemented by a very watchable attitude that was completely at one with the music, including an endearing flourish of the arms at the end of fast passages, fists clenched, so powerful that it threatened to propel her into the front row.”     […]

[… ]    “Just when we thought the evening couldn’t get any more dramatic, guest conductor Alexander Vedernikov, formerly of the Bolshoi, demonstrated a remarkable affinity with compatriot Rachmaninov and directed the players through a blistering performance of his Symphony no. 1 in D minor. Vedernikov’s expressive arms seemed to reach for the roof and his over-the-collar hair bounced with vigour. The programme notes included the headings “A night in hell… From the ashes… Defying destiny… Grand passions”, and the music was correspondingly angst-ridden.”     …

The Year 1911: Sibelius and Nielsen

Thursday 1 December 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Robert Spano conductor
Inger Dam-Jensen soprano
Jeremy Huw Williams baritone

Sibelius: Symphony No.4 32′
Grieg: Orchestral Songs 20′
Nielsen: Symphony No. 3 (Sinfonia Espansiva) 38′ Listen on Spotify

It’s the year 1911, and in Finland Jean Sibelius wrestles with his demons in his most powerful symphony. Meanwhile, in Denmark, Carl Nielsen’s imagination takes flight in his gloriously optimistic Sinfonia Espansiva. Two great composers re-invent the symphony in unmistakable style in this stirring programme from guest conductor Robert Spano; and in between we welcome another great Dane, as soprano Inger Dam-Jensen sings a selection of Grieg’s lovely orchestral songs. They’re everything you’d expect from the composer of Peer Gynt: lush, romantic and irresistibly tuneful.

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 Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


…     “And how well Spano and the CBSO achieved this; top marks to Ulrich Heinen for the dark eloquence of his frequent cello solos, but top marks, too, for the biting strings, the portentous brass and the lamenting woodwind.

We come close to the otherworld of the Kalevala here, and it was good eventually to escape into the pastoral optimisim of Nielsen’s Third Symphony.”     …


Friday Night Classics: You Call the Tunes

Friday 21 May 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Michael Seal  conductor
Simon Bates  presenter
Michael Wade Lee   tenor
Mark Holland   baritone

Tonight the CBSO plays the peoples’ favourites in a concert packed with Midlanders’ most-loved classical and operatic music.

Voting for the concert programme closed on 31 March, programme includes:
Holst: The Planets – Mars and Jupiter
Grieg: Peer Gynt – Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King
Verdi: Rigoletto – La Donna è mobile
Bizet: Carmen – Les Toréadors
Pachelbel: Canon in D
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Rossini: The Barber of Seville – Largo al Factotum
Puccini: Turandot – Nessun Dorma
Bizet: The Pearlfishers – Au fond du temple saint
Ravel: Boléro

It’s a tantalising programme of opera house favourites, luminously indulgent works to relax to and revel in, and rousing pieces using the immense sound of the full Orchestra to mammoth effect.

* We’re very sorry to announce that Sue Perkins has become unable to appear in this concert due to filming commitments which could not be moved. We’re delighted that Simon Bates, popular Classic FM presenter, will now present this concert.  www.cbso.co.uk

Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique

Thursday 15 Apr 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Emmanuel Krivine conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet piano

Berlioz Overture, Roman Carnival 8’
Grieg Piano Concerto 28’
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique 50’

John-Yves Thibaudet

Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Symphonie Fantastique dramatises unrequited love. In this colourful score Berlioz depicted the fantasies of a spurned lover, ranging through a glittering ball, love in a meadow during the drowsy heat of the afternoon, an execution and a supernatural encounter in a churchyard at night.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert: “Every year Classic FM asks you to vote for your favourite classical works in our Hall of Fame. One of the works I like to vote for each year is the Grieg Piano Concerto and one of my favourite recordings of it is by tonight’s soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.”  www.thsh.co.uk

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:


…”Jean-Yves Thibaudet is a bit of a dandy but there was nothing self-regarding about his forthright playing in the Grieg Piano Concerto. He thundered in the opening, stole in pianissimo in the romantic adagio, with fine support from the orchestra’s first horn, and gave the dancing final movement an endearing lilt.

His encore, of the second of Brahms’ six Op.118 pieces, was meditative, introspective and exquisitely performed.”