Bach and Bruckner

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Wednesday 11th March 2015 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Ilan Volkov  conductor
Ilya Gringolts  violin

Bach: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor 16′
Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 79′

Soul music, Austrian style. Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony has been described as a cathedral in sound, but Bruckner also drew his inspiration from the music of J. S. Bach and the majestic scenery of the Austrian Alps. So the timeless beauty of Bach’s A minor violin concerto – played today by the superb Ilya Gringolts – will make the perfect upbeat.

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “Some conductors open the acoustic doors in Symphony Hall as wide as possible in order for Bruckner to create a church-like resonance. Volkov opted for a less opulent sound, and hearing the Fifth launched with such a determined, clear tread in the introduction to the first movement underlined all kinds of symphonic connections, tracing its lineage right back through Schubert, and of course Beethoven, to Haydn. The CBSO’s playing was never plush, but it was always precise and intently responsive. The only one of the four massive movements that seemed a bit unfocused was the scherzo, with its strange, almost supernatural feeling, and it took a while for the sense of completion and closure to arrive in the finale too. But when it did, it was utterly convincing.

When Volkov conducted Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony with the BBC Scottish Orchestra four years ago, he prefaced it with Bach’s A minor Violin Concerto, and he did the same here. Ilya Gringolts was the soloist this time – rather luxury casting for a work that lasts barely 15 minutes, but his playing had enough panache and swagger about it to turn the concerto into a convincing showcase for his virtuosity.”

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CBSO Youth Orchestra

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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

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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.”  

A Boy Was Born : Osborne Plays Britten’s Piano Concerto

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Wednesday 6 February 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Ilan Volkov conductor
Steven Osborne piano

Sibelius: The Bard 6′ Listen on Spotify
Britten: Piano Concerto 34′
Oswald: B9 part 1 (World premiere of the orchestral version) 15′
Sibelius: Symphony No. 6 27′

Steven Osborne’s encore – Ravel – extract Mother Goose suite

“Other composers mix cocktails,” said Jean Sibelius, “but I serve pure, cool water.” And he never served anything purer or more beautiful than his radiant Sixth Symphony, or more mysterious than The Bard. A question, and a deeply moving answer: guest conductor Ilan Volkov gives us both, and joins pianist Steven Osborne in Britten’s sparky pre-war Piano Concerto. And John Oswald remixes Beethoven’s first five symphonies in fifteen minutes, flat. New music simply isn’t meant to be this much fun!

Explore Birmingham’s celebrations of Britten’s centenary here.

pre-concert talk at 6.15pm
Conservatoire Showcase!
Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem
Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Seal, performs Britten’s powerful orchestral showpiece.

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “The concert ended with another of Sibelius’s most beautiful and enigmatic works, the Sixth Symphony, in which Volkov seized on the few moments when its poise and tranquillity are ruffled to extract what drama he could. Yet the perfectly seamless unfolding was never threatened, and the CBSO played with a fabulous attention to every detail and harmonic nuance. They were equally impressive in Britten’s concerto, sometimes the adversary to soloist Steven Osborne, sometimes his partner in crime. Osborne has absolutely nailed the work’s mixture of heartless exhibitionism and brittle ebullience, and he played it with glittering panache and awesome brilliance.”

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Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The concerto demonstrates the clear influences of Ravel on the British composer in its gleaming orchestration. Elsewhere, we feel the influence of Prokofiev in elements such as the sardonic waltz second movement and its somewhat cheeky ending. Osborne’s virtuosity was matched by a more serious and reflective mood in the slow third movement, which segued into the grimly comical march of the finale. In the closing pages Osborne’s hands became a blur in a jaw-dropping display of rapid-fire double octaves. Osborne gave a nod of acknowledgement to Ravel in his sweet encore from the Mother Goose suite.

The concert closed with an astonishing performance of Sibelius’ Symphony no. 6, lesser known by audiences than some of his more popular symphonies. This orchestra has an impeccable Sibelius pedigree, having undertaken complete cycles of the symphonies with both Sir Simon Rattle and Sakari Oramo.”     …

 

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Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “And for those who attended the pre-concert performance by the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra the best came first.

Under the empowering direction of Michael Seal, this remarkably accomplished orchestra gave an account of Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem that went far beyond being just a free taster. From the broodingly anguished first movement (so like Shostakovich) and blisteringly exciting, demonic Dies irae scherzo, to a finale in which all tensions were released in its consolatory fulfilment, this was a fully formed and terrifically well executed reading.

So was Britten’s Piano Concerto, which provided the centrepiece of the main CBSO concert with conductor Ilan Volkov. This is Britten at his most high-spirited and extrovert (echoes of Prokofiev and Malcolm Arnold abound), who takes no prisoners and forces the soloist – here the wonderfully muscular, no holds-barred Steven Osborne – to jump over many finger shredding hurdles.”

 

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Review by Hilary Finch, Times:  ££

Click here for full review

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – 3D Performance

Thursday 21 April 2011 at 6.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Ilan Volkov conductor
Julia Mach dancer
Klaus Obermaier concept, artistic direction, choreography
Ars Electronica Futurelab interactive design & technical development
Alois Hummer sound design
Wolfgang Friedlinger lighting design

Varèse:  Tuning Up (sketch, completed by Chou Wen-Chung)

Ligeti: Lontano

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Any live performance of Stravinsky’s infamous Rite of Spring is a mind-blowing experience – the music alone is brim-full of raw emotion and ritualistic frenzy. Tonight, experience an astonishing interplay between reality and fantasy, as dancer Julia Mach’s live performance interacts with real-time computer-generated stereoscopic projections, translated into virtual reality with the aid of 3D spectacles for the audience. Digital wizardry meets the primeval world of Stravinsky’s ballet score! www.cbso.co.uk

http://riteofspring3d.thsh.co.uk/

Blog posts / review by Zyls:

http://zylszevo.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/stravinskys-rite-of-spring-in-3d-the-symphony-hall-birmingham-thursday-21-april-2011/

http://zylszevo.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/review-of-stravinskys-rite-of-spring-in-3d-the-symphony-hall-birmingham-thursday-21-april-2011/

…     “Tonight’s performance was very, very clever – the technology, commitment and work put into creating such a feast was impressive – the CBSO are truly world class, the dancer incredible and the capability of the technology – a brave mix of classical music, art and dance – hugely inspiring.”     …

Review by Roger Clarke, BehindtheArras:

http://behindthearras.com/perform.html#window

“ANY visit to a theatre or concert is an experience but this is a theatrical experience that really means it. I defy anyone to leave at the end unscathed. Once in your mind you will never forget it.   […]

[…]  This takes 3D into whole new realms though, way beyond the fun and novelty stages. This 3D is a thing of art and beauty, of disturbing images, of despair and darkness, light and hope.Emotions and fears distilled on an electronic matrix.

It is astounding, fascinating, enthralling, stunning stuff – a new art form has been discovered. Classical music and ballet meets virtual reality.”     …

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/apr/22/rite-spring-3d-review

…     “It is the account of the music, though, that proves to be the show’s saving grace. It is quite superbly played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov, and their hour-long programme begins – thankfully without glasses or choreography – with two more 20th-century classics. ”      …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/theatre-in-birmingham/2011/04/25/review-the-rite-of-spring-cbso-and-julia-mach-at-symphony-hall-birmingham-65233-28580263/

…     “This extraordinary presentation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was a total triumph, from the confident orchestral opening by the CBSO under the clear direction of Ilan Volkov (what fabulous delivery by Gretha Tuls of that notorious high bassoon solo!), through the mesmerically controlled movements of dancer Julia Mach, and the brilliant realisation of his own choreography by the concept-designer and artistic director Klaus Obermaier.”     …

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb:

http://www.seenandheard-international.com/2011/04/26/stravinskys-rite-of-spring-3d-performance-plus-varese-and-ligeti/

…     “The swaying sensations of Spring Rounds were emphasised by the visions of Obermaier: the compulsive rhythm was synchronised to an undulating floor. Mach reminded me of a gymnast trying to keep her balance on a trampoline bed that’s been given a life of its own. This particular effect together with the computer enhancement as the dancer arms become elongated may be seen on www.riteofspring3d.thsh.co.uk. Weird enough in two dimensions, the addition of the third made it even more mind-boggling. It was a magic carpet-ride on which Volkov wound up the CBSO strings and brass players to engage in the lethal blitz that followed, strains of Stravinsky that foreshadowed World War I. The flying 3D shapes returned, penetrating missiles akin to a game of paintballing, such was the suggestive power of Obermaier. I emerged unscathed from the battering.”     …

Jansen Plays Sibelius

Thursday 5 November 2009 at 7.30pm

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

Ilan Volkov  conductor
Janine Jansen  violin

Chin: Rocaná (UK premiere) 21′
Sibelius: Violin Concerto 31′
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 39′

One concert: three extraordinary musical worlds. Korean composer Unsuk Chin has attracted a worldwide following for her magical, brilliantly imaginative music – and this is your first chance in Britain to hear Rocaná, an astonishing “sound sculpture” inspired by impressionist art and the composer’s own dreams. Then we’re off to the brooding northern landscape of Sibelius’ popular Violin Concerto (with the stunning Janine Jansen as soloist), and finally to the sunlit Alpine meadows of Brahms’ happiest symphony. Lullabies, horn calls and jubilant trumpets all come together in some of the loveliest music he ever wrote. www.cbso.co.uk

Review from Rian Evans, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/nov/08/cbso-volkov-review

“Conductor Ilan Volkov was at the helm when Unsuk Chin’s cello concerto was acclaimed at last year’s Proms, and his affinity for her detailed style was evident as he directed the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the UK premiere of Chin’s 2008 work for orchestra, Rocaná.” …