Wednesday 14 May 2014 at 7.30pm
Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600
Andris Nelsons conductor
Margaret Cookhorn contrabassoon
Rainer Gibbons oboe
Andris Nelsons gets us smiling with two of the deliciously witty symphonies Haydn wrote specially for British audiences, and then throws in a very special bonus: the fantastically inventive concerto that John Woolrich wrote specially for the CBSO’s contrabassoonist, Margaret Cookhorn.
Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:
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… “It was in the nickname-less 102nd that he really took charge, giving the first movement a Beethovenian fierceness, finding real pathos in the elegiac slow movement, with its solo cello threading through the textures. He delivered the symphony’s teasing final pages with perfect deadpan timing.
In between came two wind concertos. The CBSO’s principal oboe Rainer Gibbons was the elegant, understated soloist in, K314, the C major concerto that Mozart wrote for his instrument, while the orchestra’s contrabassoonist, Margaret Cookhorn, had a new work commissioned for her. John Woolrich describes his Falling Down as a “dark capriccio with lyrical moments”; the orchestra regularly tumbles down to the depths the solo instrument haunts, while dark-hued instruments – tuba, bass trombone, bass clarinet, cor anglais – mirror its sound-world. A battery of percussion, including two sets of timpani, emphasise the general unease. It’s a very skilful quarter-hour party piece for an instrument that doesn’t normally get out much, and Cookhorn made the most of it.”
Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:
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… “A rare pleasure to hear two Haydn symphonies in an evening: rarer still to be able to repeat the experience at the next day’s matinee concert.
It was also a valuable listening exercise. Not that the performances of No.101 (The Clock) and No.102 differed from one day to the next, no reason they should. However, a second hearing provided an opportunity to appreciate the CBSO’s assured playing and Andris Nelsons’ occasionally revelatory conducting. On first hearing them it appeared that Nelsons, unlike Sir Simon Rattle, is not an instinctive Haydn conductor.
For example, the dynamic extremes he brought to 101’s opening movement and the sudden forceful accents, applied with a jab from Nelsons’ baton, seemed too calculated, an instance of conducting micro-management: nuance of the sake of nuance. A second hearing revealed that this was not the case: the subtleties are all Haydn’s and Nelsons was happy to reveal their wonders with the illumination provided by playing of wit and delicacy from the CBSO.
The switch from minor key foreboding to D major sunlight was done with dazzling sleight of hand and the andante’s tick-tock transformations were delightful. Contrast was high because the darker hues were always given their due as in 102’s sombre adagio, led by Eduardo Vassallo’s soulful cello.” …