Symphonie Fantastique

Wednesday 29th April, 7.30pm

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


  • Dvořák Cello Concerto in B minor, 40′
  • Berlioz Symphonie fantastique , 59′

All you need is love! When Hector Berlioz couldn’t get the girl of his dreams, he wrote her a symphony: a huge, crazy, opium fuelled riot of supernatural fantasies and star-crossed passion. It’s quite simply… well, fantastic! And Dvořák took a boyhood romance and a vision of Niagara Falls, and poured them into the most ardent cello concerto ever written. Jian Wang tells the story tonight.
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Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:
Click here for full review

  “Before conclusions, it was soloist Jian Wang in the spotlight for the Dvořák Cello Concerto; by any standards this was a dazzling exhibition. After the opening statement on clarinets and bassoons, the crescendo of Znaider was ferocious if perhaps a little uneven. As the first subject is tossed around in the allegro, the contribution from the lower strings seemed more pronounced than I have noticed before, but it was an interpretation that was decidedly pleasing to my ear. The horn delivered the gorgeous second subject and after some typical Dvořákian string gaiety, Wang forcefully entered, displaying his talents to the full: a velvet caress at the bottom end, a delicate touch on the ‘A’ string, a fluidity to the semiquavers and an aggression when required in the codas. I wondered what make his instrument was – the programme merely said it was on loan. His dynamic control and use of vibrato portrayed a formidable technique, and his ability to sit back, adjust his spectacles, and enter from a relaxed position at the precise moment, was uncanny. As Dvořák interweaved his two subjects in the central section, the CBSO players exuded a sense of utter jubilation, a mood confirmed by the return to the opening theme that closes the movement.

The cello again allows others to open the second movement, adagio, ma non troppo. This time it was a wonderful combination of Oliver Janes on clarinet and the bassoons who discharged one of Dvořák’s touchingly melancholic tunes, made all the more poignant by the Chinese virtuoso’s entry. The discussion between soloist and the woodwinds was animated; broken by a sudden outburst from the orchestra and amplified by the brass and percussion sections, it heralds the lied ‘Leave me alone’, inspired by the composer’s love for Josefina Cermakova. There was now an intensity to Jang’s playing that infused the auditorium, a line of melody that was remarkably painted. The interplay between Jang and Marie-Christine Zupancic on flute was another magical moment, as was the bird-like interjections of Rainer Gibbons on oboe. The finale, allegro moderato, contains a complex three-part rondo, begun enthusiastically by the soloist. But the main message of Jang and the CBSO was one of recapitulation, highlighting the glorious way Dvořák treats his native folk songs. The well-deserved appreciation for Jang brought a snippet of an encore from a Bach cello suite.”     ….

Bruckner’s Seventh

Wednesday 7 December 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Nikolaj Znaider conductor
Thomas Trotter organ

Ruders: Symphony No. 4 (Feeney Trust co-commission – UK premiere) 30′
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 70′

Unfortunately, Andris Nelsons has withdrawn from this performance due to the imminent arrival of his first child. We are grateful to Nikolaj Znaider who has kindly agreed to take his place at short notice. The programme remains unchanged, and we apologise for any disappointment caused.

Bruckner heard the opening of his Seventh Symphony in a dream -played by an angel. And from then on, it only gets lovelier. You’ll be knocked backwards by the emotion, grandeur and sheer breathtaking beauty of this great romantic symphony: Andris Nelsons certainly thinks so. First, though, join us as we make history – and give the Symphony Hall Organ a workout into the bargain! – in the UK premiere of a stunning new symphony by the Danish master Poul Ruders.

Click here to find out more about composer Poul Ruders and his music.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…     “Trotter played with verve and total empathy with the orchestra, conducted authoritatively at short notice by Nikolaj Znaider, yet another brilliant violinist who also conducts.

The response from the auditorium was warm and appreciative.

Znaider also presided over an account of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony which allowed all the orchestra’s glories to tell: effulgent strings, woodwind of almost human eloquence, and well-rounded, clearly-articulated brass.”     …

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

…     “Znaider had taken over Nelsons’s programme unchanged, and so followed the very polished account of the Ruders with another symphony, Bruckner’s Seventh. That was a brisk, pliable performance, perhaps a bit too streamlined, but never overstudied or too monumental even in the great slow movement. It was superbly played: the sound world, very much Bruckner’s own for all its Wagnerian debts, was glowingly realised.”     …