Mediterranean Classics

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Wednesday 22nd October 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Alain Altinoglu  conductor
Renaud Capuçon  Viola

Rossini: An Italian Girl in Algiers – Overture 8′
Berlioz: Harold in Italy 42′ Watch on YouTube

Stravinsky: Apollo 29′
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No. 2 16′
Listen on Spotify

Pirates of the Mediterranean, hard-drinking bandits, and Greek gods who know how to party… just another night in with the CBSO! The French conductor Alain Altinoglu caused quite a stir last season; tonight he’s devised a concert with a Mediterranean flavour, from Berlioz’s Byronic fantasy to the Olympian grace of Stravinsky’s art-deco ballet, and the sensuous, shiver-down-the-spine beauty of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. Pure hedonism: go on, indulge!

6.15pm – Conservatoire Showcase Granville Bantock: Pagan Symphony Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Seal, performs a neglected work by one of the CBSO’s founders.

If you like this concert, you might also like:
Spanish Night, Thursday 22nd January, 2015 
American Classics with Freddy Kempf, Wednesday 28th January, 2015 
Schubert, Strauss & Dvorak, Thursday 19th February, 2015

Support the CBSO



Review by Peter Marks, Bachtrack:

Click here for full review

…     “In fact, Capuçon’s playing had a sweep and passion that proved hard to resist.

Paganini was famously disdainful of the work. He had encouraged Berlioz to write a piece to showcase his newly-acquired Stradivarius viola in 1833 but he was unimpressed by the number of tacet bars the soloist has while the large orchestra unleashes its collective might in the score’s whipcrack tuttis. This is most apparent in the last movement, particularly after the clever introduction – surely a tribute to the opening of the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in its recall of the thematic material from all that has come before – when the soloist steps aside for the riotous music of the brigand’s orgy. If Capuçon fell short at all it was in the string crossing passage at the centre of the Pilgrims’ March second movement; others have made this sound more magical.

Altinoglu, for his part, clearly has an affinity for the music of his compatriot composer. He maintained a steady trajectory through the more symphonic outer movements ensuring Berlioz’s spiky rhythms were meticulously articulated. Not for Altinoglu the abandon of the late Sir Colin Davis in this repertoire, but that is not to say that he and the orchestra held back. Climaxes were unleashed but in a more controlled fashion. No doubt this is a result of Altinoglu’s technique: his gestures are small and precise, only becoming more animated when required. Every gesture appeared helpful to the orchestra and likely explains the commitment and security that was on display in every department of the orchestra, from front desk to back.”     …



Review by Roderic Dunnett, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “The later movements, too, revealed why Capuçon received a spectacular ovation with the Symphony Hall audience. Here the fabulous flute had exactly the right kind of mystery over (or under) the viola’s arpeggio-ing, which the soloist kept so beautifully quiet. Miracles, too, from the descanting flute department over the viola’s return in the section that followed the pilgrims. There were nicely delicate brass touches too to relish in the second movement, and the pilgrims’ exit, left to Harold to mimic with his arpeggios resolving the intermittently  elusive key in alt, felt just wonderful. Two successful middle movements, in fact.

Designed as a rip-roaring Hollywood Finale, the last movement thrilled with its brigandish assaults, though even here Berlioz manages to take the viola down to pianissimo, as the orchestra shouts out cackling laughs straight out of Weber in the brass. The strings excelled themselves in this finale – as stylish in their spirited braggadocio as previously rocky at the start. With Laurence Jackson, soon afterwards to be heard as solo, at the helm, they really can achieve rich and wonderful effects. Even when battling the trombones’ threats, the strings remained stylish – taking Harold’s side, perhaps. But one of the loveliest moments is when Harold, feeling isolated, virtually duets with himself. Double-stopping was rarely so touching, or so narrative-enhancing. It’s a lonely end, even amid the hubbub.

Everything was building towards Daphnis and Chloe – not the whole work, so no sweeping choruses and shattering, choir-upholding sequences. But this was Suite No 2, and it’s the sort of repertoire Altinoglu revels in, as Rattle did here before him. Again Marie-Christine Zupancic’s flute solo – she is a fine successor to the CBSO’s great, now veteran Colin Lilley – was crucial in the scenes for Chloe. This was the work Ravel was supposed to write for Diaghilev in 1910 (the Firebird took its place; and it only hit the stage in between the next two Stravinsky ballets, reaching its audience in 1912). The CBSO woodwind have some ravishing passages, some of them fused with strings, and here, in repertoire they have recorded, the entire orchestra responded to Altinoglu’s sympathetic, sensitive lead. Daphnis is one of the most gentle of Greek myths, one of those one terms bucolic. The rural feel has more than an echo of Berlioz about it; and so too does the unbuttoned finale, which Fokine whipped up into a dramatic whirl, well up to Berlioz’s Harold and Symphonie Fantastique.”     …



Review by Richard Whitehouse, ClassicalSource:

Click here for full review

…     “Concluding the concert, the Second Suite from Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé (1912) confirmed Altinoglu’s prowess in a performance as was more than the sum of its parts. The intensifying expressive contours of ‘Daybreak’ built to a radiant culmination, after which the increasingly animated discourse of ‘Pantomime’ featured dextrous woodwind-playing as found contrast in the mounting abandon of ‘Danse générale’ – so bringing the evening to an uninhibited close.

Instead of a talk, the pre-concert slot brought a rare revival of Pagan Symphony (1928) by Granville Bantock. The second of his four designated Symphonies, its single-movement trajectory comprises six sections which, between them, correspond to the customary four movements. Thus the tranquil introduction gains impetus as it heads into an ebullient Allegro, the momentum spilling over into a hectic scherzo whose climax in an unaccompanied percussion ‘break’ and the score’s most arresting passage. From here brass fanfares prepare for a sustained slow movement whose would-be voluptuousness is complemented by a final section which brings the work to a rousing close.

It hardly needs adding that Bantock’s paganism is of a distinctly English kind, nor that the work’s ambition rather outstrips its achievement, but the music evinces a virtuosity to which the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, under the watchful direction of Michael Seal, did justice (Duygu Ince coping ably with the often Straussian demands of the leader’s role). A long-time resident of Birmingham, Bantock would doubtless have expressed his approval.”

Friday Night Classics: Classics at the Movies

Friday 1 November 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Michael Seal  conductor

Claire Rutter  soprano

Barry Norman  presenter

Including music from:   Verdi: The Force of Destiny (Jean de Florette)

Catalani: Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (Diva)

Puccini: O mio babbino caro (A Room with a View)

Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake (Black Swan & Billy Elliot)

Barber: Adagio for Strings (Platoon & The Elephant Man)

Herrmann: Salaambo’s Aria (Citizen Kane)

Sibelius: Finlandia (Die Hard 2)

Wagner: The Ride of the Valkyries (Apocalypse Now)

Korngold: Glück das mir verblieb (The Big Lebowski)

Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro (Trading Places)

Strauss: Blue Danube Waltz (2001: A Space Odyssey)

Britten: Playful Pizzicato (Moonrise Kingdom)

Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana (Raging Bull)

Puccini: Madam Butterfly (Fatal Attraction)

Saint-Saëns: Organ Symphony (Babe)

Encore: Rossini: William Tell Overture

You know that moment at the cinema when   you realise that you’ve heard that tune before – but you can’t quite put your   finger on it? Well, tonight, movie legend Barry Norman reveals all, in the sensational   3D-sound of the CBSO. You might think of the music of Sibelius, Puccini and   Barber as the soundtracks to Die Hard, Fatal Attraction and Platoon   – but it sounds even better when you hear it for real!

Bryn Terfel

Friday 7th June

Symphony Hall

Manchester Concert Orchestra

Bryn Terfel bass-baritone

Gwawr Edwards soprano

Caryl Hughes mezzo-soprano


Mozart            Don Giovanni:  Overture

Madamina il catalogo è questo

Donizetti        Linda di Chamounix: O luce di quest’ anima

Mozart             Le nozze di Figaro: Overture

Bizet               Carmen: Toreador Song

Offenbach      Les Contes d’Hoffman: Allez! Pour te livrer combat…scintilla, diamant

Gounod          Faust: Faites lui mes aveux

Delibes           Lakmé: Sous le dome épais (Flower Duet)

Verdi               Falstaff: Ehi! Paggio! … L’onore!

Verdi               Nabucco: Overture

Verdi               Don Carlo: Ella giammai m’amo

Wagner           Tannhäuser: O du mein holder Abendstern

Rossini           La Cenerentola: Non piu mesta

Gounod          Roméo et Juliette: Je veux vivre

Mozart             Don Giovanni: Fin ch’han dal vino (Champagne aria)

Lerner and Loewe     Camelot: How to Handle a Woman

Loewe and Lerner     My Fair Lady: I Could Have Danced All Night

D’Hardelot     Because

Bock and Harnick     Fiddler on the Roof: If I Were a Rich Man

Richards        Cymru Fach (Dearest Wales)


Rossini           Duetto buffo di due gatti (Meow Song)

Hughes (Welsh lyrics)    Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through the Night)

A commanding presence in the international music world, the acclaimed and award winning operatic powerhouse
Bryn Terfel performs specially chosen arias by  Mozart, Rossini and Gounod.




Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “More Verdi for “Ella giammai m’amo” from Don Carlo, in which Terfel’s heartfelt outpourings were matched by laments on the principal cello, rightly acknowledged during the applause.  Following several helpings of Italian and French, the evening’s one German offering was “O du mein holder Abendstern” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Terfel masterfully inhabiting the role of Wolfram while atmospheric strings shimmered like a shroud over the land.

A foray into the world of musical theatre gave us a few songs in English, including a fabulous “If I were a rich man” from Fiddler on the Roof, although Terfel claimed to have only sung it in Welsh before!  Lilting Welsh folksong Cymru Fach rounded off the official programme, Terfel, Edwards and Hughes joining together in exquisite harmony, evoking hills, valleys, emotion and pride.  Dearest Wales indeed.”     …



Review by David Harte, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “And he’s a very fine singer, even when shouting top notes, as he did in Leporello’s Catalogue aria (Don Giovanni) and the Toreador’s Song from Carmen. The Diamond aria from Les Contes d’Hoffman and Falstaff’s tirade to Bardolph and Pistol, however, were more subtly moulded to Terfel’s ebullient delivery, and he threw off Don Giovanni’s tongue-twisting Champagne aria with terrific precision.

The evening’s high spots were undoubtedly ‘Ella giammai m’amo’ from Verdi’s Don Carlo (with a gorgeous cello solo) and ‘O du mein holder Abendstern’ (Tannhäuser), sung with poker face integrity and demonstrating just how sensitive Terfel can be when not striving for effect.”     …

Friday Night Classics: Classics at the Movies

Friday 28 October 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Michael Seal conductor
Simon Bates presenter
Ben Dawson piano

Including music from:
Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra (2001, A Space Odyssey)
Barber: Adagio for Strings (Platoon & The Elephant Man)
Wagner: The Ride of the Valkyries (Apocalypse Now)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 (The King’s Speech)
Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (Raging Bull & Godfather III)
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (Manhattan & Gremlins 2)
Sibelius: Finlandia (Die Hard 2)
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 (Brief Encounter)
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake (Black Swan & Billy Elliot)
Mahler: Adagietto (Death in Venice)
Saint-Saëns: Organ Symphony (Babe)
Rossini: William Tell Overture (Brassed Off & A Clockwork Orange)

Beethoven knew nothing of a future stammering king, and Rachmaninov didn’t compose with a great British screen romance in mind. Yet, from A Brief Encounter to The King’s Speech, classical music is synonymous with some of the most iconic moments on film, from the dramatic to the heartbreaking, the terrifying to the romantic. And played live, in 3D, in Symphony Hall’s incredible surround-sound, it’s even better without the pictures!

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

Friday Night Classics: A Night at the Opera

Friday 29 April 2011 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Stuart Stratford conductor
Susana Gaspar soprano
Ji Hyun Kim tenor
Daniel Grice baritone

Mozart: The Marriage of FigaroOverture

Bizet: CarmenPrelude and Aragonaise from Suite No.1 ;    Les Toréadors;    Micaëla’s Aria

Bizet: The Pearl FishersAu fond du temple saint

Wagner: LohengrinPrelude to Act III

Dvořák: RusalkaSong to the Moon

Tchaikovsky: Eugene OneginLensky’s Aria

Mozart: Don GiovanniLà ci darem la mano


Rossini: The Barber of SevilleOverture

Rossini: La CenerentolaCome un’ape

Donizetti: L’elisir d’amoreUna furtiva lagrima

Gounod: Roméo et JulietteJuliette’s Waltz Song

Verdi: AidaTriumphal March

Puccini: La BohèmeAct IV duet;    Quando me’n vo

Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo

Rachmaninov: AlekoAleko’s Cavatina

Verdi: La TraviataBrindisi

(Sung in original languages with English surtitles)

This evening’s fabulous array of opera-house favourites has it all: love, magic, flirtatious ladies, ‘gentlemen’ with one too many conquests to their name, and a fair few characters meeting rather unpleasant endings – some more well-deserved than others. The world of opera is not one known for understatement, so expect passions to run high as the CBSO and three world-class soloists treat you to a programme packed with great music. And following the announcement of the Royal Wedding taking place earlier on this very day, the CBSO joins in the celebrations with Mozart’s effervescent Marriage of Figaro Overture as the curtain-raiser.

Please note Ana James has withdrawn from the concert on Friday 29 April. We are grateful to Susana Gaspar who has kindly agreed to take her place at short notice.

The schedule and programme remains unchanged.

Review by Paul Marston, BehindtheArras:

…     “Three world class soloists – Portuguese soprano Susana Gasper, Korean tenor Ji Hyun Kim and British baritone Daniel Grice – turned on the style with some of those much loved arias, and the orchestra impressed with the Trumphal March from Verdi’s Aida.

Gaspar, who replaced Ana James at short notice, excelled in Dvorak’s Rusalka – Song to the Moon, while Kim and Grice thrilled the audience with the beautiful duet, Au Fond du Temple Saint, from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.”     …

CBSO Benevolent Fund Concert

Friday 15 October 2010 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Vassily Sinaisky  conductor
Alina Pogostkina  violin

Rossini: William Tell – Overture 12′
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 26′
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8 36′

Encore – Dvořák: Slavonic Dances No.2 in E minor, Op.72

It might be the world’s favourite violin concerto, but even if you already
know and love it (and who doesn’t?), there’s always something
appealingly fresh about Max Bruch’s First. And never more so than in
the inspirational hands of the young Russian violinist Alina Pogostkina.
But don’t take our word for it. Come and hear it for yourself, at the heart
of this shamelessly entertaining programme. There’s also a rare
chance to hear the gloriously beautiful bits of the William Tell overture
that didn’t feature in The Lone Ranger, plus the lilting dance-tunes and
joyous trumpets of what is – hands down – Dvorák’s happiest
symphony. And if that all sounds a bit too enjoyable, remember that all
proceeds from this concert go to an excellent cause: the CBSO’s
Benevolent Fund (Registered Friendly Society 735F).

Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

… “At its core was Bruch’s G minor Violin Concerto, played by the young Russian violinist Alina Pogostkina with fetching warmth and grace, and a romantic richness entirely free of schmaltz.”  …

Rating 5/5

Friday Night Classics: You Call the Tunes

Friday 21 May 2010 at 7.30pm

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

Michael Seal  conductor
Simon Bates  presenter
Michael Wade Lee   tenor
Mark Holland   baritone

Tonight the CBSO plays the peoples’ favourites in a concert packed with Midlanders’ most-loved classical and operatic music.

Voting for the concert programme closed on 31 March, programme includes:
Holst: The Planets – Mars and Jupiter
Grieg: Peer Gynt – Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King
Verdi: Rigoletto – La Donna è mobile
Bizet: Carmen – Les Toréadors
Pachelbel: Canon in D
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Rossini: The Barber of Seville – Largo al Factotum
Puccini: Turandot – Nessun Dorma
Bizet: The Pearlfishers – Au fond du temple saint
Ravel: Boléro

It’s a tantalising programme of opera house favourites, luminously indulgent works to relax to and revel in, and rousing pieces using the immense sound of the full Orchestra to mammoth effect.

* We’re very sorry to announce that Sue Perkins has become unable to appear in this concert due to filming commitments which could not be moved. We’re delighted that Simon Bates, popular Classic FM presenter, will now present this concert.

Haydn 200: II

Wednesday 18 November 2009 at 7.30pm

Town Hall, Birmingham 0121 780 3333

Jean-Christophe Spinosi – conductor
Rinat Shaham – mezzo-soprano

Mozart Overture to Cosi fan tutte, K. 588
Mozart Recit & Smanie Implacabile (Cosi Fan Tutti)
Mozart Voi Che Sapete (Marriage of Figaro)
Haydn Symphony No. 83 “La Poule”
Rossini Overture to Il barbiere di Siviglia
Rossini Cruda sorte (L’Italiana in Algeri)
Rossini Una Voce Poco fa (Barber of Seville) 26′
Haydn Symphony No. 82 “The Bear”

One of the stars of the period instrument music scene and now a leading opera conductor, Corsican-born Jean-Christophe Spinosi makes his CBSO debut with a sparkling programme featuring this year’s anniversary composer Haydn. Two of the latter’s splendid Paris symphonies are separated by arias by Rossini, sung by one of today’s leading mezzos, acclaimed for her ‘Carmen’ at Glyndebourne.

Review by Geoff Read, Seen and Heard, UK:

“…Shaham’s allure was equally to the fore in Rosina’s Una voce poco fa from Il Barbiere – a natural for the part of Rossini’s sex kitten. She was a veritable minx, but one with also a sting in her tale as her vigorous tantrum demonstrated. The orchestral closure after her thrilling climactic top was overtaken by the applause. We loved her but an encore in the middle of a concert? Not an option.  … “

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post: