Gewandhausorchester Leipzig perform Strauss

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 Concert Package,
SoundBite and Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16

Monday 19th October

Symphony Hall

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Riccardo Chailly Gewandhauskapellmeister
Maria João Pires piano

Richard Strauss Don Juan 17’
Mozart Piano Concerto No 27 in B flat 29’
Richard Strauss Ein Heldenleben 45’


Few orchestral showpieces open as thrillingly as Strauss’s Don Juan – and fewer still match the vaulting ambition of Ein Heldenleben. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig celebrate a rare visit to Birmingham with Richard Strauss at his most extrovert.

As the soloist in Mozart’s 27th Piano Concerto, Maria João Pires triumphs amidst Strauss’s soaring orchestral peaks.


Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The orchestra, now huge for these tone-poems, played with a biting attack, scrupulous accentuation (the opening of Ein Heldenleben a prime example), and a relish for the instrumental detail with which the composer peppered his textures. Special praise for concertmaster Frank-Michael Erben, his tiny solos in Don Juan sweet-toned, and his huge ones in Ein Heldenleben equally so, despite the often vicious ferocity of Strauss’s writing in these depictions of his shrewish wife.

Chailly balanced the sonorities with a natural authority, an almost fatherly concern for his charges, and it was heartwarming to witness the awareness between the strings sections and the overall intelligence and musicality of this band of professors (many of them tutors at the Mendelssohn-founded Leipzig Conservatoire).

Chailly will be leaving this orchestra in the hands of Andris Nelsons next year. It is good to know that this much-loved Birmingham ex-pat will be back at the helm of a European orchestra equal with the CBSO in repute and quality — though not privileged with the acoustic of Symphony Hall, which still never ceases to amaze me after nearly a quarter of a century.”


Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2012/13… more events…

Thursday 25 October

Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall logo

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Riccardo Chailly Gewandhauskapellmeister/music director
Lynn Harrell cello

Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 2 33’
Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 58’

Lynn Harrell’s encore -Schubert Moment Musicaux

The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, under its distinguished conductor Riccardo Chailly, is one of the world’s very greatest orchestras. They visit Birmingham riding high on the critical accolades from recent performances in London, Paris and Vienna. Acclaimed cellist Lynn Harrell is the soloist in Shostakovich’s Second Cello Concerto, and the centrepiece of the evening is Rachmaninov’s heart-felt Second Symphony, an outpouring of passionate emotion into an inexhaustible stream of gorgeous melody.

…Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra had us enthralled. Michael Church, The Independent

Chailly has taken a sleeping giant and galvanised it into one of the world’s most responsive and passionate major orchestras. The Times


Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “The finale steadily ratcheted up the tension, never weakening even in its lingering slow episode, where it is all too easy to get dewy-eyed.

Lynn Harrell was the solo cellist in the Shostakovich. He was at his thoughtful best in the introspective ruminations of the opening movement, and seemed content to leave it to Chailly and the orchestra to inject the real venom into the central scherzo and the finale, so that the concerto emerged as stranger and more teasingly enigmatic than ever, and more profound, too.”

Review by John Watson, Express and Star:

Click here for full review

…     “Harrell does more than evoke the emotions of a great work of music – he becomes possessed by it, evident in his performance of demanding Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 2.

There was once a trend to heavily edit Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2, but it was presented in its full one-hour form. The adagio movement still cries out for editing, but the orchestra fizzed and sparkled through the up-tempo movements.”


Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb -SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “The Gewandhausorchester’s principal clarinettist, Peter Schurrock, came into his own in the third movement, playing the celebrated solo magnificently and with fine feeling. His colleagues took up the challenge willingly, treating us to some glorious, romantic playing. Chailly paced the music expertly, taking it expansively but ready to move things forward with purpose in the lead-up to the main climax. The finale was ebullient and festive and Chailly maintained the momentum, even in those passages where Rachmaninov can’t resist another passage of soaring lyrical music. There was urgency throughout this movement except, of course, during the brief reminiscence of the third movement. When Chailly and his players brought the symphony home exultantly the audience erupted into a richly deserved ovation.”     …


Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “A noted Mahlerian, Chailly excels in this sort of music: large-scale and Romantic. The phrasing was exquisitely done. The polish and warmth of the strings were evident in the yearning opening of the first movement. The placement of the violins left and right at the front of the stage, and the powerhouse bass section situated to the left of centre, meant that all contrapuntal details were vivid and present, with the muscular bass sound underpinning the whole orchestra.     […]

[…]     Chailly surged forward in the final apotheosis where some linger, and we were braced for a very fast close but, once again, he had a surprise in store with the last notes broadened in tempo, giving at once a darker and more final close. The audience loved it and Chailly was clearly moved by the level of warmth and appreciation for his fine orchestra here in Birmingham.”



Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Chailly certainly stirred the marrow in Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony, being rewarded by fine playing and secret smiles between colleagues for the lovely clarinet solo in the Adagio. Heart-stopping phrases led progressively to almost unbearable heights, with the full ensemble playing their hearts out, plus good balance always allowing space for individual contributions.

We were all caught in a golden cage of luscious sound, with every tune a BIG tune. Rachmaninov at his most heart-rending, earning great cheers and uproarious applause from an emotionally-drained audience.”