The Year 1911: Sibelius and Nielsen

Thursday 1 December 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Robert Spano conductor
Inger Dam-Jensen soprano
Jeremy Huw Williams baritone

Sibelius: Symphony No.4 32′
Grieg: Orchestral Songs 20′
Nielsen: Symphony No. 3 (Sinfonia Espansiva) 38′ Listen on Spotify

It’s the year 1911, and in Finland Jean Sibelius wrestles with his demons in his most powerful symphony. Meanwhile, in Denmark, Carl Nielsen’s imagination takes flight in his gloriously optimistic Sinfonia Espansiva. Two great composers re-invent the symphony in unmistakable style in this stirring programme from guest conductor Robert Spano; and in between we welcome another great Dane, as soprano Inger Dam-Jensen sings a selection of Grieg’s lovely orchestral songs. They’re everything you’d expect from the composer of Peer Gynt: lush, romantic and irresistibly tuneful.

To listen to some of the music in this concert, and explore the rest of the season, using our Spotify playlists, click here.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…     “And how well Spano and the CBSO achieved this; top marks to Ulrich Heinen for the dark eloquence of his frequent cello solos, but top marks, too, for the biting strings, the portentous brass and the lamenting woodwind.

We come close to the otherworld of the Kalevala here, and it was good eventually to escape into the pastoral optimisim of Nielsen’s Third Symphony.”     …


Biss Plays Mozart

Wednesday 16 December 2009 at 7.30pm

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

Robert Spano  conductor
Jonathan Biss  piano

Tiensuu: False Memories (UK premiere) 16′
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9, K271 31′
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 42′ Listen
requires Real Player

This young American pianist has already built a formidable reputation for his accounts of classical and early romantic music; here he plays what Brendel calls ‘one of the greatest wonders of the world’, a miraculous product of the 21-year old Mozart. Sibelius’s sweeping, passionate symphony has long been a Birmingham favourite, and Spano also introduces a work by one of the finest of the current amazing generation of Finnish composers.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

“..It works in short-breathed bursts of energy, with a central movement of slithery hypnosis, and the CBSO players responded with gutsy fire under the persuasive baton of Roberto Spano.” …

Review by Hilary Finch, The Times:

…”After a fierce and jazzy opening called, alluringly, Review, Tiensuu creates two even more disturbing movements. Nostalgy seems to conjure the nostalgia of a chill winter fog for the heat haze of summer. Piercingly high resonances of bowed cymbals, crotales and vibraphone fuse with frozen chords and the microtones of slippery, sliding string parts, frequently played out of phase. Trauma teases ear and nerves still further, with its trilling flutes, trembling strings and gong — and, again, with an unsettling yet seductive feeling of something recalled, but just out of reach, lapsed in time.” …