Mozart’s Gran Partita


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Wednesday 26 February 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Karl-Heinz Steffens  conductor

Guy Braunstein  violin

Mozart: Gran Partita (Serenade for 13 wind instruments, K.361) 49′

Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto 34′ Listen on Spotify
Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements 20′

Guy Braunstein’s encore – Kreisler – Schön Rosmarin

In   the film Amadeus, when Mozart’s arch-rival Salieri hears his Gran Partita,   he thinks he’s hearing the voice of God. Tonight, Karl-Heinz Steffens – a former   principal clarinettist of the Berlin Philharmonic itself – leads the CBSO’s   wind players to heaven. That’s just for starters, in a concert that features   a performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, and Stravinsky’s punchy wartime symphony; music of chrome   and steel, from the streets of LA. Pure sonic indulgence.

We are sorry to announce that Renaud Capucon has had to withdraw from this concert due to ill health. We are very grateful to Guy Braunstein for taking his place at short notice.

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, Thursday   8th May

Haydn and Mozart, Wednesday   14th May

Summer Serenade, Thursday   5th June



Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

“Built like a bricklayer and with a pugnacious playing manner to match, Guy Braunstein isn’t graceful – but his playing revealed the soul of a poet.

A late replacement for the ill Renaud Capuçon, who was to have played Glazunov, Braunstein’s performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto won many admirers; it eschewed outward glamour but got to the heart of the work.

In the canzonetta slow movement his violin line weaved magically together with the oboe and clarinet. His encore, Fritz Kreisler’s Schön Rosmarin was witty and slyly humorous.

The prominence of Tchaikovsky’s sensuous wind writing was no coincidence – conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens was formerly the Berlin Philharmonic’s principal clarinet.”     …



Romantic Landscapes


Thursday 19 January 2012 at 7.30pm

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

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Karl-Heinz Steffens conductor
Sol Gabetta cello

Mozart: Symphony No. 36 (Linz) 30′
Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1 19′
Dvořák: Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra 5′ Listen on Spotify
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8 36′

“Play me some village music – that’s what I like.” Antonin Dvorák certainly practised what he preached. He took the sounds and emotions of the Bohemian countryside and transformed them into one of the happiest symphonies ever written (listen out for his pet pigeons!). That’s just the climax of this joyous concert, which also features Mozart’s brilliant Linz Symphony and Saint-Saëns’ passionate First Cello Concerto – played with style by the stunning young Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta. Summer sunshine on a January day!

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:

Click here for full review

…     “Between the symphonies came added delight with the presence of Sol Gabetta, surely the most enchanting of cellists.

She immerses herself totally in the music (bopping along gleefully with the orchestra when not herself playing), and naturally creating a warm empathy with her orchestral colleagues.

To Saint-Saens’ First Concerto she brought both mercurial bowing and a well-burnished tone from her fabulous Guadagnini instrument, fleet and accurate in a bravura display in which songfulness was never far away.

And in the neatly-programmed encore, Dvorak’sSilent Woods, she created an atmosphere of quiet, serene concentration.”

Birmingham Mahler Cycle: Kindertotenlieder

Thursday 10 February 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Karl-Heinz Steffens  conductor
Christianne Stotijn  mezzo

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) 22′
Mahler: Kindertotenlieder 23′
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 38′

From the heart…to the heart. In Central Europe, the sweetest melody can express the darkest feelings, and tonight three supreme Central European masters take us on three unforgettable emotional journeys. Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ symphony overflows with glorious tunes, but it’s almost as powerful for what it leaves unsaid. Dvorák poured all his national pride into the greatest of all his symphonies – a masterpiece even finer than the ‘New World’. And Gustav Mahler came to terms with fatherhood with some of the most heartfelt songs he ever wrote.

The CBSO is sad to learn of the death of Sir Charles Mackerras, who was to have conducted this concert. The performance is dedicated to his memory.

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb-International:

…”Any blame as to the shortcomings or otherwise of this Kindertotenlieder could not be laid at the CBSO or Steffens – their backing was exemplary throughout. […]

The two symphonic works from Steffens and the CBSO were quite different in their impact. While the ‘Unfinished’ was somewhat staid and mechanical, the Dvořák was stimulating and flamboyant. […]

The scratch team of Steffens and guest French leader Philippe Honoré had formed an instant bond with the CBSO; it was they who made the evening worthwhile.”