Andris Nelsons’ Farewell Concerts

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Wednesday 17th June, 7.30pm

Programme

  • Ešenvalds Lakes Awake at Dawn, 13′
  • Mahler Symphony No. 3, 92′

All good things come to an end. And on what are sure to be emotional evenings, Andris Nelsons has chosen to say farewell to Birmingham with Mahler’s huge, rapturous hymn to nature – both unchanging, and forever renewing. A beautiful new choral work by Andris’s fellow-Latvian Eriks Ešenvalds – jointly commissioned (thanks to support from the Feeney Trust) with Andris’s new orchestra in Boston – brings our orchestra, choruses, audience and conductor together to celebrate seven inspirational years.
Share your memories of Andris’ time with the CBSO .
See the final rehearsal pictures of CBSO with Andris Nelsons here
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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post
Click here for full review
…     ” “Please continue to love this orchestra; I feel almost guilty that I am leaving,” were Andris Nelsons’ parting words to the packed audience gathered for his final concert in Symphony Hall as music director of the CBSO after seven amazing years. […]
Sticking with these supposedly slighter central movements, Michaela Schuster was the Erda-like mezzo soloist in the “O Mensch, gib Acht!” Nietzche setting, joined by the ebullient CBSO Chorus Ladies, sounding delightfully youthful, and Julian Wilkins’ remarkable CBSO Youth and Children’s Choruses for the medieval exuberance of “Es sungen drei Engel”.

Full marks to the youngsters for their exemplary attentiveness throughout such a long concert. And so to the top and tail.

The opening movement, nature stirring into life, was persuasively delivered under Nelsons, his conducting gestures constantly alert and choreographic (one of his CBSO predecessors, Boult, would not have approved), balancing colour, dynamics and multi-metred textures always with the most detailed clarity.

World-stopping is an appropriate word for the finale, and some conductors might make its melodic/harmonic richness sound glutinous. Nelsons gave it a flow and sense of direction, growing at last to the tremendous affirmation, two timpanists pounding out the most fundamental of musical intervals (nice to welcome back Peter Hill as an old-stager — trumpeter Alan Thomas was another), as Mahler’s vision of the world was at last achieved.

This finale’s gorgeous melody has a phrase initially sung out by Eduardo Vassallo’s cellists, and it sounds hauntingly like the tune of the old song “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places”.

Sorry, Andris, we won’t. But we all wish we were.”

*****

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

Click here for full review

“Andris Nelsons, the brilliant Latvian conductor who’s led the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra these past seven years, is departing for Boston. It seemed appropriate that, to say their farewells, he and the orchestra chose to play the most colossal symphony in the repertoire, Mahler’s 3rd.

Andris Nelsons may not be particularly big in stature, but on the podium he seems like a giant. He leans forward eagerly as if to scoop the sound from the players, sculpting it with huge embracing gestures.

This might seem domineering, but what makes Nelsons’ music-making so humanly appealing is that the music possesses him, not the other way round. That inspires the players as well as us. “He catches your eye to enthuse you, then lets you do things your own way,” said one of the wind players, one of several orchestral members who gave spoken tributes to Nelsons from the platform.

These followed the 12-minute curtain-raiser, a setting of two poems for chorus and orchestra by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds about cold Siberian lakes, and hope arising even in the dead of night.”     …

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “Some conductors ease their way into what is the longest of all Mahler’s symphonies, but that is not Nelsons’s approach. The CBSO horns delivered the opening theme like a challenge, setting the stage for a performance that bristled with combative energy, and the kind of vivid incident that Nelsons finds in everything he conducts. There was some tendency to compartmentalise things, to micro-manage detail at the expense of the overall symphonic scheme, which mattered more in the 30-minute opening movement than it did in the later ones where Nelsons regularly sought out the sinister undertow to the music, whether in the faster sections of the second, or the nature imagery of the third, despite the escapist dream offered by its offstage posthorn solos.

But the finale was very much all of a piece, and it built to a final, gloriously assured affirmation; the sense that every section of the orchestra was determined to give its music director the best possible send-off was quite obvious.”     …

Czech Philharmonic perform Mahler

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2014/15 Concert Package,
SoundBite, Birmingham International Concert Season 2014/15 and Orchestral Music

Friday 24th April, 7:30pm

Symphony Hall

Czech Philharmonic
CBSO Chorus
Jiří Bělohlávek conductor
Sarah Fox soprano
Jana Hrochová Wallingerová mezzo soprano
Josef Špaček violin

Bruch Violin Concerto No 1 24’
Mahler Symphony No 2, Resurrection 8

Mahler’s epic Resurrection Symphony has a very special place in the hearts of Birmingham audiences, and the opportunity to hear it played by an orchestra steeped in Mahler’s native central European tradition makes this one of the undoubted highlights of our season.

Birmingham’s own, world-renowned CBSO Chorus joins the Czech Philharmonic’s veteran music director Jiří Bělohlávek.

You can listen to a specially created playlist by clicking here .

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Review by Robert Gainer, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “This was an excellent programme choice, a highly popular work from a German contemporary of Mahler, but centred on the romantic tradition that contrasted perfectly with the symphony’s soul searching solemnity. The virtuosic challenges were met by the Czech Philharmonic’s young leader, Josef Špaček. From the outset the conductor and orchestra were on top form, gauging the tempo, balance and warmth of sound perfectly. Špaček did not so much play over the orchestra, but worked within it, delivering an astoundingly mature performance for one still under thirty. His tone is rich and full and he was able to meet the technical demands of the concerto without any unnecessary fuss.

Rather than egotistically showcasing his lightning dexterity, Špaček is an unassuming musician who explores the finer nuances of the music and causes the listener to concentrate more on his interpretation than his skill. This was particularly noticeable in the Adagio where his phrasing matched and complemented the collective with lyrical precision. Špaček ensured the audience got more than a programme-filler with this concerto, and their response to him signalled that he completely won them over.

After the interval a lone figure looked down at the stalls from the magnificent organ over the rows of the choir seats accommodating the CBSO Chorus. They, in turn, sat above all conceivable manner of timpani, percussion, gongs and harps overseeing the large stage crammed full to the brim with the sections of the orchestra. At the centre, Jiří Bělohlávek somehow had to control this colossal cast. Furthermore he had to do so before a concert hall that has seen other great conductors, such as Andris Nelsons, deliver this piece to great acclaim. Indeed, the symphony has a special significance to Birmingham Symphony Hall, being the first piece ever performed here at its inaugural concert by the CBSO under Sir Simon Rattle. Could the Czechs, promising so much before the interval, deliver on the expectations that they had aroused?

The opening chord from the violins immediately dispelled any doubt, creating a tension that Bělohlávek never let up for a moment. The basses were strident and bold in their entry and the long first movement was underway. The balance between sections was consistently good throughout, regardless of the dynamics which went from a barely audible pianissimo to thunderclap fortissimo at the flick of Bělohlávek’s fingers. Here was a man in total control of a unified world class orchestra. There are no weak areas in orchestras of this quality, however one could not help but be impressed with the French horns as they paired sympathetically with the other instruments, reflecting through tone and timbre the ever-changing moods and dramatic dynamics of the piece. ”     …

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Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “Bělohlávek allowed a two-three minute break before the second movement, in keeping with Mahler’s wishes (although perhaps slightly more than he had planned in order to settle everyone down after the annoying ripple of applause that greeted the two soloists). The triple-time of the Andante moderato was overtly stated by the baton of the ex-BBC SO maestro, the initialLändler theme clearly stated without any need for flamboyancy of stick; it was given a delightful airiness by the sonorous strings led by Irena Herajnová. Creating a contrast to the unresolved tension of the previous Todtenfeier as Mahler intended, there were further idyllic glimpses into the past life of our hero. A wallowing contentment among the Czech Philharmonic players infectiously penetrated the auditorium, culminating in the fluffiest of finishes from the pizzicato strings and the two harps.

The importance of the string section was underlined in the third movement, In ruhig fliessender Bewegung (with quietly flowing movement) yet the carefree attitude of youth had developed one of uncertainty and disenchantment. Based upon the song ‘St Antony and the Fishes’ its poetic makeup was peppered with cymbal crashes, piccolo squeaks and woodwind palpitations, together with a heroic reminder to the Titan of Symphony No 1.

Jana Hrochová Wallingerová instilled the necessary prayer-like atmosphere to the ‘Urlicht’ (Primal Light) a song from Des Knaben Wunderhorn; her opening O Röschen Rot! (O little red rose) was simply and sincerely stated, yet conveying vulnerability as befits man returning to God. While the attentive auditorium held their breath for the first four lines, the solo was given some heavenly oboe accompaniment. Then as the pace quickened with Da kam ich auf einen breiten Weg (There came I upon a broad path) it was the turn of leader Herajnová to add a luxurious lustre to the mezzo voice.

Judgement Day arrived with an almighty orchestral amalgam of sound for the fifth movement, In tempo des Scherzos – Langsam: Mysterioso. After the fade, expertly engineered by Bělohlávek, the first call from the off-stage horn was heard. A wonderful kaleidoscope of instrumental colour and texture from the orchestral ensemble followed, creating a feeling being in limbo. The dead were summoned with an amazing crescendo from the seven-strong percussion section, cut off with pinpoint precision. The return of the ‘March’ theme produced some fantastic ‘surround’ sound, superbly galvanised by Bělohlávek. The far-off brass, both left and right, plus fluidic tremolo from flute and piccolo introduced the hushed CBSO Chorus; initially seated as is their want, they delivered an intensity to Klopstock’s Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n (Rise again, yes, rise again) – a hair-tingling moment. Again the combined sound as Sarah Fox joined choir and orchestra was admirably balanced by Bělohlávek. As the drama of the resurrection was played out to Mahler’s additional text, Wallingerová’s O glaube, mein Herz, O glaube (O believe, my heart, O believe) was passionately rendered and Fox’s nicht bright and clear. Their two voices blended well for the duet O Schmerz (O pain) convincing in their conquest over death. Rising to sing Sterben werd’ ich (I shall die) – who could sing this mighty statement sitting down? – the full complement of performers glorified this ‘Resurrection’ in uplifting fashion.”

Mahler’s Sixth Symphony

ThumbnailRaise the Roof

Saturday 28th February 2015 at 7.00pm

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

Concert Packages

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor

Mahler: Symphony No 6 85′
Listen on Spotify

Careful what you wish for. Mahler’s Sixth Symphony portrays an artist destroyed by three mighty “hammer blows of fate” – and soon afterwards, three devastating blows reduced Mahler’s own life to ruins. Well, that’s the legend, anyway; what’s beyond dispute is that Mahler Sixth is one of the most powerful, and personal, symphonies ever written. Andris Nelsons will bring every bar urgently to life.     http://www.cbso.co.uk

Mahler’s Sixth Symphony

ThumbnailCBSO 2020Raise the Roof

Thursday 26th February 2015 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor Berg: Three Pieces for Orchestra 20′ Mahler: Symphony No 6 85′ Listen on Spotify Mahler’s Sixth Symphony portrays an artist crushed by three “hammer blows of fate” – and soon afterwards, three devastating blows reduced Mahler’s own life to ruins. Coincidence? What’s certain is that this is one of the most powerful, and personal, symphonies ever written. Andris Nelsons brings every bar urgently to life – and explores the atmospheric Three Pieces that Mahler’s friend Berg wrote in the second year of the Great War.     http://www.cbso.co.uk

Support the CBSO

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Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

Click here for full review

…     “So, more than usually the Andante came as balm. At the start the music was presented gently and with innocence. The CBSO strings were silky while there were some admirable woodwind and horn solos to relish. The refinement of the playing was a delight and Nelsons shaped the music in a very caring fashion. The sweeping climax, when it came, was passionately delivered but the hallmark of this very fine performance was lyrical sweetness.

 Thus refreshed, we embarked on the thirty-minute-long finale. This extraordinary movement received an edge-of-the-seat performance. After playing Mahler for nearly an hour already, and the Berg before that, one could have forgiven the CBSO if they had shown any tiredness in this marathon finale but they did not. Not only did the orchestra retain their technical proficiency but also they maintained the intensity demanded of them by Mahler and by their conductor. This was truly a tour de force by the CBSO. Nelsons drove the main allegro pretty hard – but not excessively so. In the midst of all the tumult Mahler gives some brief respite by revisiting the nostalgia previously induced by the sound of Alpine cowbells.  However, not only was the respite brief but also Nelsons maintained the tension and, to be honest, I felt there was a sense of foreboding in these pages: what Mahler has done here is to give us a brief glimpse of happier times before sweeping away those memories and that’s what Nelsons conveyed. The two hammer-blow climaxes were terrifying in their power and after the second one Nelsons confronted us with a maelstrom as the music seethed and boiled. At the very end the low brass intoned the funeral rites before, in the words of annotator Gavin Plomley, the major-key/minor-key motto of the symphony “pitilessly.. drives the final nail into the coffin.”

As the music dissolved into black nothingness Nelsons and his players held the moment for a long time so that, mercifully, there was no risk of premature applause to mar the end of this gripping performance.”

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

“It’s less than four months until Andris Nelsons conducts his final concerts as the City of Birmingham Symphony’s music director. Even now, each programme brings a sense of discovery, of finding out how he tackles areas of his ever-widening repertory that he has hardly explored before with the orchestra.

This time it was Berg’s Three Orchestral Pieces, composed partly as a reaction to Mahler’s death and here played as a preface to his Sixth Symphony. Nelsons didn’t make the pieces sound particularly Mahlerian, though there was no shortage of vehemence in the cataclysmic climax of the final piece, but Nelsons did tease out every tangled strand of their instrumental writing, confident that the clarity of the Symphony Hall acoustic would keep them distinct, and shaped each of the pieces so that its destination was always clearly defined.”     …

Mahler’s First Symphony: CBSO Youth Orchestra

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Sunday 22nd February 2015 at 7.00pm

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

CBSO Youth Orchestra

Edward Gardner  conductor
Denis Kozhukhin  piano

Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 4 20′
Listen on Spotify

Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1 16′
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 56′
Listen on Spotify

Denis Kozhukhin’s encore – Bach – Siloti Prelude in B Minor

Mahler’s First Symphony begins by creating the world – and ends by storming Heaven itself. Well, the CBSO Youth Orchestra likes a challenge, and if you’ve heard our inspirational young players before, you’ll know that under the baton of CBSO principal guest conductor Edward Gardner we’re in for something very special indeed. Twentieth century classics by Lutoslawski and Prokofiev raise the curtain with an explosion of colour. http://www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The orchestra clearly enjoyed immersing themselves in Mahler’s Symphony no. 1 in D major.  The work appeared under various titles in its early days, from a five-movement symphonic poem to “Titan – a tone poem in the form a symphony”, but Mahler later did away with these. There remains an implied dramatic structure based on Mahler’s own poems Songs of a Wayfarer, with the music describing the hero’s journey from unrequited love via a pastoral setting towards the finality, yet triumph, of death. The band was evidently at home with Mahler’s brilliant orchestration and confidently tackled the subtleties and nuances that brought the landscape and journey to life. The minor-key Frère Jacques theme of the funeral march was particularly effective, with the chance for individual young musicians to shine, from menacing double-bass onwards. The final “triumphal” pages were exactly that, with upstanding brass giving it their all. Then it was time to get the whole crew on their feet for well-earned enthusiastic applause.”

Schubert’s Great

 

 

ThumbnailRelax and Revitalise

Saturday 17th January 2015 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

David Afkham  conductor
Brett Polegato  baritone

Webern: Passacaglia, Op.1 11′
Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer 14′
Schubert: Symphony No. 9 (The Great) 57′
Listen on Spotify

There’s nothing in all music to compare with Schubert’s monumental Ninth Symphony. Some hear it as a challenge to Beethoven, others hear it as a summer journey through a sunlit world of melody. Either way, it’s a wonderful Birmingham debut for the charismatic young German conductor David Afkham, and a magical complement to Mahler’s ever-fresh Songs of a Wayfarerwww.cbso.co.uk

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Review by Sam Chapman, ThePublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “However, on this occasion, Anton Webern’s Passacaglia, Op.1 opens the evening. The CBSO, led by David Afkham ranges from lyrical to passionate where appropriate. The pizzicato string sections are well controlled during this piece.

Gustav Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer is performed by the baritone Brett Polegato; who among other credits has performances at La Scala and l’Opera National de Paris to his name. His clear and intelligently used voice is a pleasure to listen to; however, the performance could benefit from more connection with the text.

The sublime orchestration and changes of mood in Schubert’s ‘Great’ symphony make it incredibly fulfilling to listen to from start to end: it is like a novel full of surprises that leaves a pang of loss once it has come to a close. David Afkham leads the CBSO intelligently, and the attention to the finer details really gives the piece the grand feel it requires. The string section is a joy to listen to, the triplet’s at the piece’s finale lay down a marker and make the performance a great success, if just short of being truly rousing.”     … (sic)

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Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb: (for the matinee concert with different “overture”)

Click here for full review

…     “Afkham demonstrated his orchestral accompaniment skills in the second item: Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) with baritone Brett Polegato sharing the podium. Throughout, the woodwind section provided magnificent support with clarinettists Oliver Janes and Joanna Patton getting things off to a cracking start in Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht (When my darling has her wedding). Billed as a much sought-after lyric-baritone, I expected a more tender ‘ich’ as this wayfarer retired into his ‘traurigen Tag’ and I would have liked more contrast in the middle section as the beauty of the world is envisaged, prior to gloom overtaking him again. Mahler’s love of nature came across in the second movement, ‘Ging heut Morgen übers Feld’ (I Went This Morning over the Field) with the flutes of Marie-Christine Zupancic and Veronika Klirova prominent, yet this joyful mood did not seem reflected in Polegato’s body language;. However his closing Nein, nein, das ich mein, mir nimmer kann! did carry the right timbre. The despair of the wayfarer reached a climax in ‘Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer’ (I have a gleaming knife) mirrored by some ferocious string playing and although Polegato’s diction was always excellent, I did not experience the sheer agony the text portrays; any sensations of the cold steel were absent. The fourth song ‘Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz’ (The two blue eyes of my beloved) provides a resolution to the cycle, notable for its reference to an attachment Mahler had with the singer Johanna Richter from the Kassel Opera House. It also contains a mention of the Lindenbaum, following in the footsteps of his Germanic forefather Franz Schubert and his Winterreise (Winter Journey). All round this was the best execution of the four songs with Polegato’s fine communication of the dénouement and the soloist on the same wavelength as Afkham and the CBSO players.

The empathy Afkham had clearly struck with the CBSO continued in the main contribution to the matinée, Schubert’s Symphony No 9, the Great C Major. Above all they conveyed the expansive nature of the piece, driving relentlessly forward with a meaningful and measured pace, yet never losing sight of the plethora of Schubertian melody that infuses the 1825 score. The horn section got the Andante section of the first movement off to a glorious start (worthy of them being the first orchestral section to be signalled out by Afkham at the close) their beautiful theme suggestive of the beginning of a country stroll, a walk which other sections of the orchestra took turns to lead: the strings led by Laurence Jackson eagerly took up the motif, sonorously echoed by the woodwind. As the opening movement continued the trombone section of Edward Jones, Anthony Howe and David Vines (bass trombone) were soon demonstrating their strapping dexterities, adding their variation to the opening theme, enthusiastically taking the lyrical lead. In his pre-concert address CBSO violinist David Gregory had drawn attention to the symphony’s extensive use of trombones and enlisted the help of the CBSO three-man section to prove his point; we saw what he meant! Afkham moved effortlessly into the Allegro ma non troppo section, vividly highlighting the variety of colours Schubert used to expand his sonata form.”     …

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post: (for the matinee concert with different “overture”)

Click here for full review

…     “But what actually can anyone do with Schubert’s interminable Ninth Symphony?

Just give clear downbeats, keep counting the bars, and remember if you’re going to repeat sections or not. Afkham ticked all those boxes, and ticking away with him throughout were the amazing CBSO strings, so controlled in the infernal, eternal triplet figurations which spin out the finale to paid-by-the-note lengths.

What did help keep the interest alive here was Afkham’s cherishing of inner detail (possibly Schubert’s chamber-music writ large on this overblown canvas), and the sturdy, resonant horns, just two of them sounding like a huge choir, abetted by noble trombones.”     …

Dudamel Conducts Mahler

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2013/14

Friday 15th November

Symphony Hall

Philharmonia Orchestra

Gustavo Dudamel conductor

Mahler Symphony No 7 77’

This concert has a running time of c 1 hour 20 minutes with no interval.

Lively, charismatic and driven by a burning urge to communicate, Gustavo Dudamel is quickly becoming one of the artists who define classical music in our time. On only his third visit to Symphony Hall, he conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in the symphony Gustav Mahler called his ‘song of the night’: music of horn-calls and twilit processions, set in a world of dreams, nightmares, and roof-raising joy.

Classic FM’s John Suchet says:

A mighty Mahler symphony conducted by a mighty maestro, this is one concert not to be missed. Described as the hottest conductor on the planet, young Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel has engulfed the musical world with his boyish charm and precocious talent. Hear him tonight take on Mahler’s tantalizing Seventh Symphony.

www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “The orchestra tore into the rambunctious opening of the finale. Again, Dudamel didn’t interfere with the flow of this triumphant passage and he had the very end of the movement in sight, holding the unexpected chord that foils the first fanfare passage long enough so that we knew what was coming at the coda. Coherence was the name of the game, once again, with each bombastic episode seeming to join with the last rather than seeming repetitive and disjointed as is sometimes the case. At one point the timpanist couldn’t suppress giggles at this almost absurdly hyperactive music. Perhaps this music is absurd – but then, as Alfred Brendel recently pointed out on Desert Island Discs, the world is absurd. Mahler’s well-known wish was certainly to capture the world in each of his symphonies.

The return of the first movement’s main theme was preceded by crackling electricity in the playing of the orchestra, and as the coda approached there were smiles all around from the players as they realised what a special performance they had executed. The chord of harmonic oblivion that Dudamel had signposted at the beginning of the movement hung in the air once more, like the absurd world suspended in a bubble, which he obligingly popped with Mahler’s triumphant final note.”

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Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb

Click here for full review

…     “The central scherzo carries the marking Schattenhaft, which I believe can be translated as ‘shadowy’. I think that perhaps it’s only when you see a live performance that you fully realised just how difficult this music is to play. The scoring is full of weird shrieks and broken rhythms; fragments of music are hurled around the orchestra. The music is full of all sorts of nocturnal goings-on. Dudamel was the master of the score here, controlling everything very tightly and positively, ensuring that all the elements of Mahler’s piquant orchestration were realised. The Philharmonia backed him to the hilt with some marvellously precise playing

The second Nachtmusik could not be more different in character to the second movement. Marked Andante amoroso it’s a piece that finds Mahler in nostalgic and sentimental mood. The movement was distinguished by much excellent solo playing from the orchestra’s leader, Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay. Here, textures were admirably clear – the mandolin and guitar parts registered nicely. Dudamel’s reading was clear-eyed and once again he brought out, without any artificial spot-lighting, a lot of detail, such as the long, low clarinet trill near the end. However, I didn’t feel there was a great deal of warmth or affection in the reading; it seemed to me to be rather objective.

With scarcely a pause for breath Dudamel launched into the finale, the orchestra’s timpanist, Andrew Smith, making his presence felt – as he should in this movement.”     …

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Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

     “Who but Mahler would have thought of opening with a horn call but transforming a romantic cliché into something fresh and disturbing by assigning it to a rasping tenor horn?

He wanted it to sound like “nature roaring” and the Philharmonia’s player gave us just that, using the “big tone” Mahler demanded. The romantic trumpet calls and wind trills sounded magically distanced; the second night-music movement’s violin and mandolin solos were sweet but never sickly.

At the introduction of the beautiful second theme of the first movement Dudamel couldn’t resist slowing down despite Mahler’s insistence on maintaining tempo but this was a minor indulgence. He launched into the last movement without a pause but the sudden timpani assault was the sort of theatrical gesture Mahler might have relished.”