The Firebird

Thursday 3rd March, 2016, 2.15pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Tchaikovsky  Hamlet , 20′
  • Saint-Saëns  Cello Concerto No. 1 , 19′
  • Berlioz  Romeo and Juliet – Love Scene , 14′
  • Stravinsky  The Firebird – Suite (1945), 29′

Leonard Elschenbroich’s encore – Lutoslawski – Sacher Variation
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A dark kingdom, a troubled prince, and a spine chilling mystery… OK, so Hamlet and The Firebird don’t exactly tell the same story! But they both unleash music of sweeping passion and dazzling colour, just as Romeo and Juliet gave Berlioz a chance to pour out his romantic soul. Nicholas Collon leads a colourful toast to Shakespeare, and partners the award-winning Leonard Elschenbroich in Saint-Saëns’ warm and witty First Cello Concerto.
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Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet is not heard as often as it should be. It lacks a big, sweeping tune such as one finds in Romeo and Juliet and it’s not as wild and passionate as Francesca da Rimini but it’s still a fine piece. Collon led a very successful performance, establishing a sense of foreboding in the opening pages and then bringing out all the dramatic elements as the music unfolded. There was a lovely oboe solo (Rainer Gibbons) portraying Ophelia and, indeed, in that section the rest of the woodwind were just as fine. I was impressed with Collon’s handling of the score though perhaps just a little more ‘give’ in the piece’s lyrical passages would have been welcome. He obtained excellent, keenly responsive playing from the CBSO. In the brief coda Tchaikovsky’s tragic ending was successfully done, not least because Collon didn’t overdo the emotion; an element of patrician restraint was most appropriate.

The young German cellist, Leonard Elschenbroich joined the orchestra for the Saint-Saëns concerto. It was written in 1872 for the Belgian cellist, Auguste Tolbecque who must have liked the work for I learned from Richard Bratby’s programme note that he was still playing the concerto in public in 1910 at the age of 80. And why would he not have liked the piece? It’s relatively short – about 20 minutes in this performance – but it gives the soloist plenty of opportunities to shine both in virtuoso writing and in lyrical stretches. The three movements play without a break.

It seemed to me that Elschenbroich was very well suited to the concerto. Needless to say, he had the necessary technique to despatch the virtuoso passages with seeming ease. Moreover, the consistently burnished and lovely tone that he obtained from his 1693 Goffriller instrument meant that the many lyrical passages were a delight. Indeed, his tone compelled attention throughout the performance. I especially liked the central Menuet movement. Here the orchestral strings displayed sensitive courtliness in playing the minuet material at the start – and later their woodwind colleagues were equally felicitous. In the meantime Elschenbroich made his countermelodies sing in a most attractive way. The vivacious finale was despatched with high spirits by soloist and orchestra. This was a most enjoyable account of a thoroughly engaging work.”     …

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Nicola Benedetti Plays Concertos for Christmas

Part of Christmas 2012 at THSH… more events…

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

Part of Entertaining Erdington… more events…

Sunday 9th December, 3pm

Town Hall

European Union Chamber Orchestra
Nicola Benedetti violin
Leonard Elschenbroich cello

Corelli Concerto Grosso in G minor, Christmas Concerto 15’
Vivaldi Cello Concerto in G minor RV 416 10’
Manfredini Concerto Grosso in F, Christmas Concerto 10’
Vivaldi Concerto for Violin & Cello in F RV 544 10’
Torelli Concerto in G minor, Christmas Concerto 10’
Handel Pastoral Symphony from Messiah 3’
Vivaldi Autumn and Winter from The Four Seasons 17’

Nicola Benedetti has established herself as one of the most charismatic of young performers: an international superstar with a major record contract and ‘the complete assurance of a mature soloist’ (The Independent). Together with the European Union Chamber Orchestra, she performs an exuberant baroque programme featuring delightful seasonal highlights: the peacefully pastoral Christmas Concertos of Corelli and his contemporaries, and Vivaldi’s popular Winter from The Four Seasons.

www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “Benedetti then returned to round off the afternoon with two of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – Autumn and Winter. Her understanding and production of the pieces was impressive – you couldn’t help but wish she had time to add in Spring and Summer.

She bowed to the audience’s wishes for a short encore but returned to the Vivaldi, repeating an excerpt from Winter already played. Fair enough it was lovely but it was also a missed opportunity to dazzle the audience with a different piece of music.”     …

 

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Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Benedetti’s regular chamber music partner Leonard Elschenbroich presented our first Vivaldi of the day, the Cello Concerto in G minor, with beautiful tone and virtuosity. With delicate orchestral backing, Elschenbroich executed ascending and descending scales galore, fast and furious in the Allegro then controlled and lament-like in the Largo. Following the EUCO’s pretty rendition of Manfredini’s Christmas Concerto, Benedetti and Elschenbroich duetted in Vivaldi’s Concerto for violin and cello in F major, which has a subtitle that translates as “The world turned upside-down”. The composer had played a joke on his soloists by writing their parts in the wrong clef, but due to his skilful composition it was possible to swap parts; then, with a quick shift in pitch, it would work. Sounds a bit complicated to me, but there were certainly no issues this afternoon, just plenty of energy and verve, with the violin and cello interweaving and echoing, and extra texture added by the orchestra. The final Allegro clearly gave lots of scope for the soloists to show off, bringing the first half to a suitably upbeat conclusion.”     …

Staatskapelle Dresden

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Fri 13 May 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Staatskapelle Dresden
Christoph Eschenbach conductor
Leonard Elschenbroich cello

Schumann Overture, The Bride of Messina 9’
Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations 17’
Brahms Symphony No 1 45’

Leonard Elschenbroich’s encore – Paul Hindemith Sonato for Solo Cello, final movement.

Staatskapelle Dresden’s encore – Mozart

Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory has been a Partner of the Staatskapelle Dresden since 2008

The unbroken history of the Staatskapelle Dresden reaches back to 1548: its rich pedigree led Richard Strauss to call it “the best orchestra in the world” and it is still a strong contender for the title. This concert includes music by three composers with whom the orchestra was associated, with Tchaikovsky’s loveable Rococo Variations complemented by the heroic grandeur and warmth of Brahms’s First Symphony.

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/05/20/review-staatskapelle-dresden-at-symphony-hall-65233-28709741/

…     “The Brahms grew in stature after a rather subdued opening movement. The andante was mellifluous and serene with excellent contributions from the oboe and the orchestra’s leader Kai Vogler. The finale was splendid, Eschenbach building and maintaining the tension as the music unfolded in a peroration for the orchestra’s outstanding horn section.”      …

Review by Rian Evans, Guardian, for same concert, different venue:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/may/16/dresden-staatskapelle-review

Review by Glyn Pursglove, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard, for same concert, different venue:

http://www.seenandheard-international.com/2011/05/15/eschenbach-and-dresdner-staatskapelle-impress-cardiff-with-brahms-and-tchaikovsky/

…     “Enjoyable though the Rococo Variations were, the real substance of the evening came with a very fine performance of Brahms’ First Symphony, a performance that exuded authority and passion.”     …