From the Danube to the Rhine


ThumbnailRelax and Revitalise

Thursday 5th February 2015 at 7.30pm

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

Concert Packages

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Kazushi Ono  conductor
Marie-Christine Zupancic  flute

Schubert: Symphony No. 5 26′
Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 2, K. 285d 20′
Schumann: Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish) 31′ Watch on YouTube

Schumann’s “Rhenish” symphony opens in a blaze of glory… and ends at a beer festival! There’s never been a more enjoyable way to experience the Rhineland, and you don’t even have to leave your seat in Symphony Hall! First, though, Franz Schubert raises the curtain with a gentle smile – and the CBSO’s own Marie- Christine Zupancic brings out the light and shade of Mozart’s jewel-like concerto.

The annual Bequest Patrons’ Reception takes place after this concert on 5 February. For information, contact Claire Watts on 0121 616 6533.

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Review by Hedy Mühleck, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Floating rather than walking, Kazushi Ono swept into the hall and injected this floating quality in the opening movement of Schubert’s Symphony no. 5 in B flat major. The smaller orchestration made for an amazingly transparent soundscape, nicely articulated particularly by the first violins. This transparency and the musicians’ eager compliance with each and every of Ono’s small gestures created flowing and flexible dynamic, but also revealed occasional instances where the second violins appeared to minimally lag behind the first. This, however, was quickly forgotten after the first few notes of the elegiac Andante.     […]

[…]     “Mozart provided the opportunity for a cadenza in each movement, and I was particularly looking forward to these as the soloist who, having grown up in the Lower Rhine area, further added to the evening’s theme, had captured me with her characteristic, silver tone whenever I’d heard the CBSO previously. While I missed her trademark tone, her cadenzas offered exciting pianos in which every note was a self-contained entity, a thin ray of light that grew broader as she played. The first cadenza appeared as a more modern-sounding addition, the second movement cadenza however was of the same confiding nature as preceding solo parts, felt less disjointed and much more an organic part of the movement. The high-spirited, bubbly final movement displayed the same transparent quality as the opening Schubert, with gleaming brass lines over which the first violins cast their notes like a sugar dusting. The third movement cadenza, recapitulating material of the rondo, fitted seamlessly into the movement, giving it a great sense of overall balance.”     …



Review by Sam Chipman, PublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “His writing here is actually for an oboe, but was adapted to be performed as a flute concerto. Marie-Christine Zupancic plays with great expression and ability, her cadenzas are suitable stylistic and allow her to show off her virtuosic skills. She is ably accompanied by the CBSO who take delight in the conversation Mozart gives with the soloist. The Allegro is delightfully light and spirited: a true homage to Mozart himself.

“A slice of Rhenish life” is what Schumann called the fourth movement of his Third Symphony, inspired by a visit to Cologne Cathedral and which rounds off the evening. Thrilled by the sights of Dusseldorf after arriving to take up the post of musical director in 1850, the work reflects the beauty of the Rhineland he saw around him; this was before both personal and professional problems arose which resulted in a suicide attempt by drowning in the Rhine in 1854. The Lebhaft is played with triumphant impatience by a larger CBSO orchestra, a vividly bright performance of the great Schumann score. The brass section really grasps the solemn feel of the Feierlich which is played both lyrically and with gravitas, and the final Lebhaft is played with a sense of urgency to bring about the climactic finish.

Kazushi Ono shows his class, as does the CBSO, with this delightful concert. An excellent selection of music to tickle any classic music lovers taste-buds, and played nimbly and with great intelligent awareness by the CBSO, marshalled by Ono – all in all a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music.”

Benedetti plays Szymanowski

Wednesday 28 November 2012 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Kazushi Ono conductor
Nicola Benedetti violin

Dvořák: The Wood Dove 19′
Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1 23′ Listen on Spotify
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra 35′ Listen on Spotify

Nicola Benedetti is surely one of Britain’s best-loved violinists – and no player is closer to Karol Szymanowski’s glittering First Violin Concerto, the piece with which she won BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004. That’s the magic spell at the centre of this enchanted programme from guest conductor Kazushi Ono. First, though, there’s something scary in the woods in Dvorák’s sinister musical fairytale; then the whole CBSO takes the spotlight in Bartók’s life-affirming Concerto for Orchestra – music that wrings the heart even while it dazzles the ear.

Get a taste for the music here and watch Nicola Benedetti backstage at the Edinburgh Festival where she discusses her love of Polish composer Szymanowski. She will perform his Violin Concerto No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra as part of their series of Szymanowski concerts.

Nicola Benedetti’s Encore – Bach – Sarabande from Partita D Minor




Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Nicola Benedetti brought impeccable intonation to the solo line of Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, a crucial element in such a crystalline work teeming with nocturnal imagery, perfumed with the aura of fin-de-siecle decay.

Gently oscillating melodic lines were matched by more energetic passages, Benedetti’s bowing so chippingly effective. But she was also able to command a persuasive stillness, always supported by the CBSO’s expressive collaboration. Her Sarabande from Bach’s D minor Partita made a welcome palate-cleanser of an encore – the best music we heard all evening.”     …

The Birmingham Mahler Cycle: Symphony No 2

Wednesday 18 May 2011 at 7.30pm

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

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Kazushi Ono conductor
Jane Irwin soprano
Renata Pokupic mezzo
CBSO Chorus

Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) 80′

We regret to announce that Sakari Oramo has had to withdraw from our performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony on Wednesday 18 May, as he is unwell. We are very grateful to Kazushi Ono, who has kindly agreed to replace him at very short notice. The orchestra, choruses and soloists remain as advertised and we look forward to the concert, as one of the highlights of Birmingham’s Mahler Cycle.

Gustav Mahler may have believed that a symphony “should be like the world”, but his Second Symphony goes further – and takes you to the end of the world itself! It’s more like a blockbuster movie than a classical symphony, with an ending that’ll leave you choked with emotion. Heartrending personal tragedy, dances of death, and a roof-raising musical depiction of the Day of Judgment itself: they’re all there, scored for a colossal orchestra. This instalment of the Birmingham Mahler Cycle – 100 years to the day since Gustav Mahler died in Vienna – should be an occasion to remember.

Review by David Nice, ArtsDesk:

…     “This listener’s hairs stood on end not just from the wild yet precise upsurge of cellos and basses but also – uniquely – thanks to the stomach-flipping pregnant pauses in between. Yet the lyricism was soon allowed to soar and billow within tightly controlled parameters.   […]

[…]     No reservations at all, though, about the extraordinary CBSO chorus. Of course, there’s nothing quite like vast forces singing pianissimo at the crucial moment of salvation, nirvana, call it what you well, when Mahler decides at last there’s no threat from the old wives’ tale of judgment day. But it’s hard to credit a non-professional choir with the half-lights conjured in the men’s meditation and the sudden burst of “Bereite dich!” (“Prepare yourselves!”): non-trained tenors can’t normally give this much tone, but these ones did, thanks to Simon Halsey’s training and countless previous CBSO Resurrections under Rattle, Nelsons, Oramo – all of them playing a part in this season’s Mahler cycle – and others.”     …

Review by Andy Richardson, Shropshire Star:

…     “That finale, featuring a section that Mahler referred to as ‘the march of the dead’ was stunning. An explosion of drums, brass and strings was underpinned by the dramatic massed voices of a choir in full song. By the end of the piece, the audience had felt the full force of Mahler’s improbably ambitious creative vision.

The CBSO showed their virtuosity and Ono proved himself a true master. It made for a spectacular evening’s entertainment.”

Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

…     “The twin long percussion crescendi were delivered with stunning impact, typifying the magnificent response of the CBSO. Throughout the evening their playing, both individual and collective, was absolutely superb but in this finale they excelled themselves, delivering playing that was as sonorous as could be wished and yet razor-sharp in attack. Ono directed proceedings with immense drive and energy, yet not in an ostentatious fashion. Eventually he unleashed a stupendous climax, which seemed to depict the very opening of the Gates of Hell, after which the music was allowed to sink down as though exhausted, paving the way for the grosse Appell.”     …

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

…     “Somewhere in the world there may be choruses which can match them in this symphony but, if so, they could be counted on the fingers of one digitally-challenged hand. The orchestra in full cry, horns with bells up, brass blazing was itself an exciting spectacle.”     …