Baiba Skride: Szymanowski

Thursday 4th February, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra



  • Mendelssohn  A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Overture, 11′
  • Szymanowski  Violin Concerto No.1, 23′
  • Shostakovich  Symphony No. 10 , 52′

Baiba Skride’s encore – Bach – Sarabande from Partita 2 in D Minor

The Soviet authorities called Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony an “optimistic tragedy”. But we can hear it as one of the mightiest symphonies of the 20th century: huge, dark, and driven by blazing emotion. It’s all a long way from the moonlit enchantment of Mendelssohn’s Shakespearean overture – or Szymanowski’s gorgeous, shimmering First Violin Concerto, played tonight by this season’s artist in residence, the wonderful Baiba Skride.

CBSO+ 6.15pm Conservatoire Showcase Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Seal, performs Respighi’s majestic Pines of Rome and Mattei, a World Premiere by Conservatoire Composer Ryan Probert.



Review by Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…    ” He went on to sculpt Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony in big, sweeping gestures and a positively lurid palette of orchestral colours. True, it was alive with detail: Julian Roberts’s plangent bassoon solos, Rainer Gibbons’s oboe twisting palely in the gloom at the start of the finale, and pizzicato that ranged from fat and pungent to bitterly wry. But this was broad-brush Shostakovich, thrillingly physical and reeking of vodka and boot-leather. The ending drew cheers.      […]

[…]     Earlier, the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra gave a pre-concert performance under Michael Seal. Mattei , by Conservatoire composer Ryan Probert, created huge Technicolor sonorities (extra brass plus organ) from the slightest of musical ideas. Respighi’s Pines of Rome put the same forces to suitably roof-raising use; but it was the eloquence and sense of atmosphere in the quiet music (beautifully poised trumpet and clarinet solos, supported by ravishing string phrasing) that showed just what heights these students can attain under Seal’s direction. “





Beethoven’s Violin Concerto

Wednesday 9 October 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Olari Elts  conductor

Christian Tetzlaff  violin

Mozart: Idomeneo – Ballet Music 12′

Haydn: Symphony No. 86 28′

Beethoven: Violin Concerto 42′ Listen on Spotify Watch on YouTube

Master,   pupil and friend: between them, Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart transformed the   history of music. Tonight’s concert begins with the white-hot inspiration of   Mozart’s breakthrough opera, and ends with soloist Christian Tetzlaff soaring   high above the sunlit romantic landscape of Beethoven’s great Violin Concerto.   No-one conducts this music with more panache than Olari Elts; so when he turns   to Haydn’s exuberant 86th Symphony, the results should be little short of explosive.



Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

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“Every once in a while, as a reviewer, you are so utterly transfixed by a performance that it becomes an incredible effort to wrench yourself back into reality in order to put pen to paper, such is the visceral impact. And so it was with Christian Tetzlaff’s performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The context for the concerto, logically placed in the second half of the concert, had been set earlier with pieces by composers who had great influence on the young Beethoven: Mozart and Haydn. The influence of both were felt keenly throughout the concerto, from the astonishing invention Beethoven weaves from the basic four note opening motif first heard on timpani (here, effectively articulated by Peter Hill using wooden-headed sticks) to the sublime, soaring, melodies in between.

Tetzlaff’s opening arpeggio emerged with a perfectly judged gradation from ethereal softness to a commanding fullness of tone. This tone was incredibly sweet in the high register, where much time is spent in this work, yet gutsy when required.”     …



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

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…     “But his grip on this wonderful work stimulated the imagination, martial elements (Peter Hill’s hard-sticked timpani a sensitive foil) combining with folky or hymn-like aspects. It took a long time to warm to this interpretation, but it brought its own rewards.

Earlier we were brought rare works by Beethoven’s two great Viennese predecessors: Mozart’s Idomeneo ballet music proved intriguing in its scoring, brightly delivered under Elt’s baton, and revealing in its thematic links with the powerful opera itself.

And Haydn’s Symphony no.86 (many years ago recorded by the CBSO under Simon Rattle) was brisk and affectionate, subtle, well-nuanced, and sparkling with glorious woodwind.”

The Birmingham Beethoven Cycle: Mass in C

Thursday 22 November 2012 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0603

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Olari Elts conductor
Anna Leese soprano
Kai Rüütel mezzo
Robert Murray tenor
Stephan Loges bass
CBSO Chorus

Haydn: Te Deum 12′
Haydn: Symphony No. 104 (London) 29′
Beethoven: Mass in C 45′ Listen on Spotify

“What do I care for your wretched violin?” demanded Ludwig van Beethoven. “I am speaking to my God.” And whatever your beliefs, there’s always something profoundly inspiring about hearing one of the greatest creative minds in history tackling the biggest questions in human existence. Olari Elts conducts our world-famous Chorus in Beethoven’s noble, heartfelt Mass in C – but not before a ringing shout of joy from the happiest religious composer of all time, Beethoven’s teacher Joseph “Papa” Haydn.

To see the full Birmingham Beethoven Cycle, go to

Sponsored by BarclaysThe Birmingham Beethoven Cycle is being supported by Barclays and through the generosity of Miss Brant, a lifelong supporter of the CBSO who died recently.

Review by Neil Fisher, The Times (£)

Click here for full review


Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Beethoven’s Mass in C, though, benefited from an almost minimal approach, its symbolism and fleeting drama more potently engaged by being understated.

It also sounded surprisingly beautiful (not least in the gentle opening Kyrie and when the same music is reprised in the final bars of the Agnus Dei) with soprano top notes of silvery lightness, punchy fugues that were never laboured, and a refreshing absence of making an ‘effect.’ ”      …




Review by Diane Parkes, BehindTheArras:

Click here for full review

…     “Conducted by Olari Elits CBSO, the four soloists and the CBSO Chorus were perfectly aligned to take us through the varying emotions of the Mass.

Beethoven’s work was performed alongside two pieces by one of his predecessor at the Esterhazy court – Haydn.

Keeping to the religious theme, Haydn’s Te Deum is an exuberant and vibrant piece. At just over ten minutes, it encapsulates faith, joy and a hope in the everlasting.”    …

Spring Symphony

Thursday 27 January 2011 at 2.15pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Olari Elts  conductor
Elspeth Dutch  horn

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 25′
Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1 15′
Strauss: Waltz Scene from Intermezzo 10′
Schumann: Symphony No. 1 (Spring) 30′

It’s darkest January. But for one afternoon only at Symphony Hall, it’s
spring! Schumann was head-over-heels in love when he wrote his
Spring symphony, and it burst through in the ringing fanfares and
blossoming melodies of this joyous masterpiece. Estonian conductor
Olari Elts tackles Beethoven’s irresistibly playful First Symphony – and
then joins the CBSO’s popular principal Horn Elspeth Dutch in the
young Richard Strauss’s First Concerto. Neither piece is “about”
spring, but there’s no mistaking that swaggering joie de vivre. Add the
swinging Waltz Scene from Strauss’s most playful opera, and you’ve
got an afternoon of pure musical sunshine.

This concert is followed by a Members’ Afternoon Tea, with Olari Elts as guest
speaker. Contact Ellie Griffiths on 0121 616 6514.

Review by Christoper Morley, Birmingham Post:

….. “But to conclude with Strauss again: the CBSO’s recent record of triumphs in the works of this virtuosity-demanding composer was maintained in the Introduction and Waltz Scene from his autobiographical (yet again) opera Intermezzo, gaudy yet stylish, and given with spirit, elan and sumptuous tone.”