An Alpine Symphony

Thursday 28 January 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Martin Helmchen  piano

Mozart: Symphony No. 33 19′
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor K491 31′
Strauss: An Alpine Symphony 51′

Richard Strauss once boasted that he could depict a knife and fork in music – so when he sets out to paint the Alps themselves, you’d expect the results to be spectacular! His Alpine Symphony is a vast, sun-drenched musical panorama – with everything from a trickling mountain stream to a mighty glacier, painted in music of dazzling colour and breathtaking power. Hear why Andris Nelsons has such a passion for this extraordinary score. Mozart was Strauss’s favourite composer, so his spirited 33rd Symphony and 24th Piano Concerto make the perfect musical hors d’oeuvre.

Oh what a journey in the Alpine Symphony- lush and wonderful! 🙂

Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

Andris Nelsons’s dynamic ­performances of Richard Strauss with the City of ­Birmingham Symphony Orchestra have been one of the strongest indicators of his exceptional gifts as a conductor. The latest Strauss score to get the ­Nelsons treatment is An Alpine Symphony, ­colossal in scale – for at least 125 players – yet intricate in detail. A CD recorded live from this concert will doubtless confirm, if not quite replicate, the thrill of hearing this orchestra in full musical flood.

With Nelsons, it’s never a case of throwing caution to the wind – even with a wind-machine in the ­percussion section to whip up the ­fearsome storm. Nelsons controls everything ­precisely. His instinct for sculpting the phrases with exactly the right ­emotional weight, while still driving the music forward is what holds your attention.  …

…The rich expanse of sound in On the ­Summit was ­luxuriant; this was the CBSO on peak form, but the dark ­colours of night ­dissolving together had a ­quality of mystery, and ultimately realised ­something even more profound. ” …..

Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

…”They bowed, plucked, blew, banged and rattled – on everything from Wagner tubas to a hecklephone and wind-machine – as if their lives depended on it.

With Andris Nelsons as our guide it was as if we had trekked up and down the alpine peak ourselves. He ensured we lived every minute of the journey.

Here was a sunrise that made you squint; a thunderstorm which stirred the hair and a shower where the raindrops were almost palpable.” …


Review by David Nice, The Arts Desk:

…”The mountain’s night profile on lower brass was swathed in mystery, and the feathery glooms as this masterpiece of one-movement construction begins to run widdershins from its optimistic high noon made the flesh creep. Strauss once thought of calling them “dreams and ghosts (after Goya)”; so much for a mere change in the weather. The dying of the mountaineers’ music at the end – which I’ve always thought of, fancifully perhaps, as a kind of war requiem to the nature-loving youth of Europe, dead in their thousands by the time Strauss completed the work in 1915 – brought the expected long silence from a rapt full house,”  …