Holst’s The Planets

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

Part of Universe of Sound… more events…

Part of Entertaining Erdington… more events…

Saturday 15th June

Symphony Hall

Philharmonia Orchestra

Vladimir Ashkenazy  conductor

James Ehnes  violin

Ladies of the City of Birmingham Choir

Elgar   Violin Concerto 54’
Holst   The Planets 49’

Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts two of the greatest classics of English music. Holst’s The Planets is a marvellously evocative depiction of astrological influences, whilst Elgar’s Violin Concerto contains some of the composer’s most intimate and personal music, shot through with nostalgia for a passing Edwardian age.

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

Nearly 100 years since its composition, Holst’s The Planets remains the most recorded piece of British music. The menace of Mars is its most famous movement, but the joyous vigour of Jupiter made the cleaners put down their brooms and dance in the aisles during its first rehearsals!

www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Diane Parkes, BehindtheArras:

Click here for full review

…    “There is something quite magical about watching Ashkenazy. Not only is he incredibly enthusiastic but he also has a fluidity of conducting.

He coaxes the music out of every performer and then seems to feel it in his own movement – it is as though his very muscles reverberate music.

The Philharmonia Orchestra certainly responded to his energy with a Planets Suite which was packed with nuance, action and life. When a piece as well-known as this can still find new colour, the conductor and orchestra must be doing something right.”     …

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Beneath the rhetoric, beneath the intricate solo writing, beneath the imposing proportions there beats a heart pierced with insecurity and regret, an inferiority complex which can only be hidden by swagger. And together James Ehnes and Vladimir Ashkenazy found it all.

Ehnes, a gentle giant, brought a rich, elegiac tone and unobtrusive virtuosity to his performance. Ashkenazy, diminutive and jerkily hyperactive (his conducting technique, quite the reverse of the austere Pierre Boulez, will never be a role-model), drew from what appears to be a rejuvenated Philharmonia both a remarkable depth of sonority and well-pointed athleticism. Rapport between soloist and orchestra in the finale’s extended, retrospective cadenza was extraordinarily gripping.”     …

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Review by Verity Quaite, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The Planets was preceded by Canadian violinst James Ehnes performing Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61. This is the second time I have seen Ehnes perform at Birmingham Symphony Hall and, although impressed with his playing on the first occasion, he surpassed himself this evening. Ehnes is a passionate and earnest performer, not given to excessive flamboyance or extravagance and this clean style is perfectly suited to the repertoire. In this mentally and physically exerting piece, Ehnes appeared to give himself over entirely to the music and was able to fully exploit the emotional pull of the concerto, whilst successfully demonstrating his technical virtuosity with a stunning cadenza. A captivating performance by a musician of the highest calibre, Ehnes’ performance, like that of the Philharmonia Orchestra, cannot be praised enough.”     …

The Planets: An HD Odyssey

(European Premiere)

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Friday 8 October 7:30pm at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Houston Symphony
Hans Graf conductor
Ladies of the City of Birmingham Choir

Stravinsky Fireworks 5’
Adams Dr Atomic Symphony 25’
Holst The Planets 65’

Sponsored by University of Birmingham.

Encores –  Liadov? –  “Baba Yaga” and Mozart – ?

“The images . . . were often astonishing. Photographs from rovers and satellites, radar images and computer-generated graphics were combined to give the audience the impression of circling individual planets and sometimes flying over their awesomely barren landscapes.”  New York Times Holst’s The Planets was inspired by his interest in astrology. Nearly one hundred years later he would have been astounded by the state-of-the-art, high definition images from NASA’s exploration of the solar system. For tonight’s European Premiere, Producer Duncan Copp has brought these images together with a commentary by the world’s leading planetary scientists, all projected on a large screen above the orchestra.

Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, says of tonight’s recommended concert:
“Classical music reaches for the stars in this unique project between the Houston Symphony and NASA no less. Premiered in the Space Agency and Orchestra’s home city in January 2010, this will be your chance to watch some extraordinary images of our solar system alongside Holst’s astrological masterpiece”.

Part of the Sounds of Space weekend at Town hall and Symphony Hall.

Houston Symphony UK Tour blog: http://www.houstonsymphonyuktour.org/

Review by Elmley de la Cour, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2010/10/15/review-houston-symphony-orchestra-at-symphony-hall-65233-27463266/

…”Conductor Hans Graf, undoubtedly an instrumentalist’s dream, directed with pin-point clarity. His beat was one of the aspects of the concert that certainly was in high-definition. His tempos were also refreshingly brisk, ensuring that no automaticity crept into the Holst classic.” …

Review by Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International: (for same concert, different location!)

http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2010/Jul-Dec10/planets1010.htm

…Their “HD Odyssey” brought not just the music but stunning photography care of NASA, giving us a virtual tour of each planet as we hear Holst’s music. Producer/Director Duncan Copp’s images are truly breathtaking […]

…Jupiter works best – it’s so well done that it’s like watching choreography – with Mars and Neptune particularly striking too. Venus works less well and the serene images of Uranus are positively anachronistic viewed alongside Holst’s music until, that is, a virtual eclipse seems to fit the final bars beautifully.” …