CBSO Youth Orchestra: An Alpine Symphony

Sunday 1st November, 7.00pm

CBSO Youth Orchestra


  • Nielsen  Helios Overture, 12′
  • Lindberg  Clarinet Concerto , 28′
  • Strauss  An Alpine Symphony, 50′

“What a hope for the future!” declared one critic after hearing the CBSO Youth Orchestra – but tonight the future is here, as Michael Seal and 120 world-class young musicians storm the heights of Strauss’s colossal Alpine Symphony. Nielsen’s solar-powered overture and a true contemporary classic – played by another young star – launch them on their way. Glaciers? Waterfalls? Alpine storms? In the phenomenal acoustic of Symphony Hall, hearing is believing.


Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Julian Bliss was the assured soloist, fully up to the work’s demands of phrasing, breathing, and embouchure-technique. Gloopy microtones, comedic effects? No problem, and always unfolded in a logical line teeming with incident. Seal’s CBSOYO collaborated with an empathy which belied their years.

Finally came the awesome challenge of Richard Strauss’s Alpensinfonie, a dawn to dusk traversal of a Bavarian mountain, and totally moving and exciting in its performance here. Winds are often easy to praise, and these deserved to be, but not so often do we mention the strings; here they were extraordinary, pouring out a wonderful maturity of tone, not least from the lower cohorts.

I cannot praise enough the maturity of every section. I have heard young brass players showing off like nobody’s business. I have seen percussionists turning what they do into a theatrical performance.

Nothing like that here. This was an Alpensinfonie under Michael Seal which was all about the music, and it will stay long in the memory.”

Brahms’ Fourth: Youth Orchestra Academy

Sunday 26th July, 7.00pm



  • Lindberg Aventures, 12′
  • Strauss Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – suite, 36′
  • Brahms  Symphony No. 4, 40′

“Astonishing” was one critic’s verdict on the CBSO Youth Orchestra’s recent 10th anniversary concert. Now the superb young players bring the birthday celebrations to a close with a concert that looks both forwards and back. Brahms’s mighty Fourth Symphony draws its strength from Bach, while Richard Strauss’s delicious Le Bourgeois gentilhomme brings the baroque spirit dancing into the 20th century. First, though, take a joyride through four centuries of orchestral favourites with one of our most brilliant living composers.


Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:

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…     “Highlights included the gentle oboe joined by other winds and horns in the overture; flutes bringing out the dance-like quality of the minuet; the exuberance and confidence of the piano/trumpet combination painting the fencing master’s antics; leader Charlotte Moseley weaving in and out with the tailor’s precision stitches making sure the gentleman is suitably clad; an affecting, poignant muted sarabande; and the sheer joie de vivre of the dinner party itself, falling scales passed around the instruments like infectious laughter. The audience lapped it up and Seal applauded his players before turning to acknowledge the warm reception himself.

After the interval the stage was once more filled to the brim for Brahms’ Symphony no. 4 in E minor. As it happens, my last review also featured this piece, played by the Dresden Philharmonic, so how would these less experienced players fare by comparison? Let’s just say they didn’t just fill the stage, they owned it! The CBSO YOA tackled Brahms’ massive structure of a work with maturity beyond their years and really came into their own. From the confident, majestic attack and warmth of the strings, through fine handling of tempo changes to the first movement’s passionate close, they showed both discipline and musicality. The second movement allowed us a good wallow, the unanimity of the lower strings’ pizzicato paired with the poised line of brass and wind. In the third movement they brought out both a playful and martial feel, confident answering chords moving on apace. Full marks to the flute solo in the final movement, as well as the clarinet and eloquent trombones. Turning the corner into the clamorous closing stages, with staccato urgency and energy, this enthusiastic and talented orchestra rounded off a fine night of music-making. The audience may not have been full, but we enjoyed it fully.”


Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

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…     “A totally accessible, rarely performed, R Strauss’s ‘Le Bourgeois Gentilehomme’ suite charmed and delighted all. The reduced baroque orchestra has many exposed personal solos, from tender oboe, cello and viola to a sturdy bass trombone. As ever Strauss enjoys stretching his horns to the full, added to which the six percussionists tactfully made their mark with good effect. Smiling music for all, especially the braying sheep and twittering interruptive birds!

Then to the true meat of this evening: Brahms’ Symphony No 4. The full orchestra swept in with gutsy strings and splendid woodwind solo snippets. Although do take care with truly clean violin entries, even one hesitation shows through. Determined pizzicatos threatened to overwhelm at times but otherwise a truly passionate rendering of this challenging work. Brahms used a (beautifully played here) solemn flute as a soloist in the passacaglia until eventually trombones come into their own with their chunky solemn quasi sacred moment.”     …

Nelsons Conducts Bruckner’s Third

Wednesday 25 November 2009 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Kari Kriikku  clarinet

Wagner: Parsifal – Prelude 14′
Lindberg: Clarinet Concerto 28′
Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 54′

Bruckner dedicated his Third Symphony to Richard Wagner – and there’s more than a hint of the Ride of the Valkyries about this stirring, powerfully romantic symphony. Vast musical landscapes, hymns of triumph and moments of heart-breaking poetry – if you heard Andris Nelsons conducting Wagner and Strauss last season, you won’t want to miss his Bruckner. But the evening begins with the serene beauty of Wagner’s Parsifal prelude – while Magnus Lindberg’s sparky Clarinet Concerto (played by the artist who inspired it) is like a dazzling firework display amidst all this teutonic grandeur.

Review by Christoper Morley, Birmingham Post:

“Everyone take note: Andris Nelsons is destined to become one of the greatest Wagnerian conductors of the 21st – or indeed any – century” …

Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

“…Yet it is hard to imagine Kriikku giving a more gripping performance than this one with Andris Nelsons and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony Hall acoustic allowed the whole fabric of the piece to emerge with unflagging clarity and vibrancy.” …

Review by Geoff Brown, The Times:

…”Never before have I heard such warm, veiled, ethereal beauties from these players, or indeed from Symphony Hall. In his second season as the CBSO’s chief, Nelsons continues to be a complete magician, conjuring passionate yet elegant performances through solid musicianship, delicate hand gestures, flexible knees, and a star’s charisma.”…