Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Performs Mahler Symphony No. 5

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

Saturday 12th March, 2016

Symphony Hall

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko conductor
Simon Trpčeski piano

6:15pm Pre-concert conversation with Vasily Petrenko.
This conversation will be signed by a British Sign Language interpreter

Grieg Lyric Suite Op 54 17’
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2 33’
Mahler Symphony No 5 72’

Simon Trpceski’s encore  with cellist Louisa Tuck – Rachmaninov – Vocalise

Oslo Philharmonic’s encore – Schubert – Moment Musical no. 3 in F Minor (for strings)

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Long acclaimed as Scandinavia’s finest orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra has found a fresh energy under its dynamic new music director Vasily Petrenko. In Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, Petrenko and the Oslo Phil will make a compelling pairing; in Rachmaninov, meanwhile, Petrenko and pianist Simon Trpc˘ eski have already been hailed by critics as a ‘dream team’!

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…    The concerto was Rachmaninov Two, the soloist the much-loved Simon Trpceski (…)playing with a confident rubato and empathy with his collaborators. This was a joint triumph for pianist and orchestra (full-throated strings, eloquent woodwind), Trpceski bringing warmth as well as glitter to rippling passage-work, and always a freshly-minted response to this well-worn work.

Applause from a packed auditorium came in huge waves, rewarded with a lovely encore, Trpceski modestly accompanying cello principal Louisa Tuck in Rachmaninov’s poignant little Vocalise.

Petrenko drew a tight, compact sound from the OPO for Mahler’s mighty Fifth Symphony. Strings dug deep, and the brass soloists (horn, trumpet, trombone), so important throughout this work laden with symbolic imagery, were a constantly commanding presence.”     …

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Schubert and Shostakovich

Saturday 16th January, 7.00pm

Featuring

  • Omer Meir Wellber – Conductor

Programme

  • Schubert – Symphony No. 3, 25′
    Shostakovich – Symphony No. 6, 30′

Shostakovich’s Sixth is a kaleidoscopic half-hour adventure of a Symphony that opens with a brooding, sprawling crescendo – before cartwheeling to its vibrant conclusion through bouyant Allegro and Presto movements. In this two-piece concert without interval, it’s the ideal finale to Schubert’s charming Third Symphony, and the perfect tonic for a surely chilly mid-January evening.

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Make music your New Year’s resolution with the CBSO – book between 15-24 January and receive a 25% discount*

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “It’s a pity, because aurally this was a zestful, detailed, dramatic account of Schubert’s Haydnesque symphony, perhaps investing it with more significance than it deserves, but certainly making a memorable impression.

The Shostakovich was well-characterised right from the richness of its lower-strings opening, building up momentum as the movements unfolded, up to the empty clamour of the finale, crisp and cheeky from the CBSO.

I have two abiding memories of this performance: the despairing desolation of Andrew Lane’s piccolo solos; but also the irritation of so much prancing around from the conductor. And did he really have to go scrambling through the orchestra at the end to congratulate practically everybody? Even Simon Rattle did that only but rarely; but then he had nothing to prove.”

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Tchaikovsky’s Fourth

Wednesday 18th November, 2.15pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Schubert  Rosamunde – Overture, 10′
  • Beethoven  Violin Concerto , 42′
  • Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 , 44′

For Tchaikovsky, music was a matter of life and death – and when he wrote his Fourth Symphony, he didn’t hold back. This is a no-holds-barred emotional autobiography, told in music of uncompromising rawness and passion. Vassily Sinaisky has this music in his blood; it’s hard to imagine a more dramatic contrast to Beethoven’s serene Violin Concerto – played by the stunning Alina Ibragimova – or Schubert’s Viennese bon-bon of an overture.
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Support the CBSO

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:
Click here for full review
 

“There are some violinists who just stun us with their virtuosity — and that is in fact all they do. With Alina Ibragimova we are on an altogether higher plane, where technique, musicality and intellect all fuse into one, and her performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the CBSO summed all this up wonderfully.

She burrowed into entries and emerged smilingly at the top of each paragraph, in a reading which was indeed one of seriousness and smiles, combining assertive statements with sweet lyricism, her altissimo notes angelically pure. Bowing was expressive, finger-work deftly co-ordinated in this intelligent, highly personal yet always appropriate interpretation of this greatest of violin concertos. Her use of the cadenza Beethoven composed for his own piano transcription was remarkably thought-provoking, abetted by the sensitive timpaning of Erika Ohman.

In fact Ohman’s input was only one of many sensitive contributions from orchestral members, not least bassoonist Julian Roberts. Under Vassily Sinaisky’s wise, untrammelled batonless direction the orchestral response was honest and direct, and their constant awareness of the soloist’s playing was an object-lesson in how to create as rewarding a collaboration as this.”    

Stephen Hough in Recital

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

Monday 26th October, 2015

Symphony Hall

Stephen Hough piano

Schubert Sonata in A minor D784 22’
Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue 22’
Debussy Estampes 13’
Liszt Valse Oubliées Nos 1 and 2 3’ & 6’
Transcendental Etude No 11 (harmonies du soir) 10’
Transcendental Etude No 10 5’

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Stephen Hough is a phenomenon: a pianist of astonishing technical skill with the ability to find profundity in even the flashiest of keyboard fireworks. Tonight he traces the darkness-to-light journeys of three great pianist-composers, and gives a recital that explores every side of his artistic personality: thinker, creator and consummate virtuoso.

Schubert, Strauss and Dvořák

Thursday 11th June, 7.30pm

Programme

  • Schubert  Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) , 22′
  • Strauss  Horn Concerto No. 2 , 20′
  • Dvořák  Symphony No. 7, 38′

We are sorry to announce that Andris Nelsons has had to withdraw from this concert at Symphony Hall due to an acute ear infection. We are pleased to announce that CBSO Assistant Conductor Alpesh Chauhan has kindly agreed to conduct at very short notice. This evening’s concert programme remains unchanged.

If you enjoy Dvořák’s New World symphony, just imagine the music he wrote when he was happily at home! Dvořák’s Seventh is stormy, passionate and filled with the kind of tunes you just can’t stop humming. Tonight it’s served up with Strauss’s bubbly second horn concerto (starring the CBSO’s own Elspeth Dutch), and Schubert’s Eighth: a symphony that couldn’t be more perfect even if he’d finished it.

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After being called in at little over 24 hours notice for his full CBSO debut last week, Birmingham-born conductor Alpesh Chauhan talks with Steve Beauchampé

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Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     ” The CBSO’s principal hornist, Elspeth Dutch, was an ideal exponent for the work. She knows Symphony Hall’s acoustic well and how to make her horn sing both with and above the orchestra. She made the opening arpeggio seem effortless and produced a lovely, legato sound.

Chauhan was an excellent accompanist and ensured the CBSO strings provided a soft cushion of sound to support Dutch. It’s interesting that Strauss gives quite a prominent role for the orchestral horns in the concerto and their dialogue with Dutch towards the end of the first movement was nicely done. The wistful second movement is somewhat reminiscent of music from Der Rosenkavalier and Dutch was once again mellifluous here. The rondo final movement is a great test of agility for the soloist with its tricky leaps and jumps and complex rhythmic dovetailing with the orchestra. After the briefest of awkward starts Dutch and the orchestra gave us a delightful romp through this fun music, finishing with a tremendous flourish.

It is often argued that Dvořák’s Symphony no. 7 in D minor, one of his finest achievements, is his most serious work in the genre but I would wager that proponents of such a view have not spent much time listening to his first three – not too many people do. Certainly, of the symphonies most often performed, it does not possess the sunny character of the Fifth and Sixth, the quirky originality of the Eighth nor the outright folksy-ness of the Ninth. It is likely that Dvořák was under the influence of his friend, Brahms, at the time the Seventh was composed and the mastery of symphonic argument supports this.

Chauhan’s interpretation was, in many ways, fresh and invigorating. He plotted a swift course through the first movement, driving us headlong into the symphony’s turbulence without flinching.”     …

Schubert, Strauss and Dvořák

Thursday 19th February 2015 at 2.15pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Elspeth Dutch  horn

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 (Unfinished) 22′
Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 2 20′
Listen on Spotify

Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 38′

If you enjoy Dvorák’s New World Symphony, just imagine the music he wrote when he was happily at home! Dvorák’s Seventh is stormy, passionate and filled with the kind of tunes you just can’t stop humming. Andris Nelsons serves it up with Strauss’s bubbly second horn concerto (starring the CBSO’s own Elspeth Dutch), and Schubert’s Eighth: a symphony that couldn’t be more perfect even if he’d finished it.

From the Danube to the Rhine

 

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Thursday 5th February 2015 at 7.30pm

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

Concert Packages

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Kazushi Ono  conductor
Marie-Christine Zupancic  flute

Schubert: Symphony No. 5 26′
Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 2, K. 285d 20′
Schumann: Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish) 31′ Watch on YouTube

Schumann’s “Rhenish” symphony opens in a blaze of glory… and ends at a beer festival! There’s never been a more enjoyable way to experience the Rhineland, and you don’t even have to leave your seat in Symphony Hall! First, though, Franz Schubert raises the curtain with a gentle smile – and the CBSO’s own Marie- Christine Zupancic brings out the light and shade of Mozart’s jewel-like concerto.

The annual Bequest Patrons’ Reception takes place after this concert on 5 February. For information, contact Claire Watts on 0121 616 6533.

Support the CBSO

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Review by Hedy Mühleck, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…     “Floating rather than walking, Kazushi Ono swept into the hall and injected this floating quality in the opening movement of Schubert’s Symphony no. 5 in B flat major. The smaller orchestration made for an amazingly transparent soundscape, nicely articulated particularly by the first violins. This transparency and the musicians’ eager compliance with each and every of Ono’s small gestures created flowing and flexible dynamic, but also revealed occasional instances where the second violins appeared to minimally lag behind the first. This, however, was quickly forgotten after the first few notes of the elegiac Andante.     […]

[…]     “Mozart provided the opportunity for a cadenza in each movement, and I was particularly looking forward to these as the soloist who, having grown up in the Lower Rhine area, further added to the evening’s theme, had captured me with her characteristic, silver tone whenever I’d heard the CBSO previously. While I missed her trademark tone, her cadenzas offered exciting pianos in which every note was a self-contained entity, a thin ray of light that grew broader as she played. The first cadenza appeared as a more modern-sounding addition, the second movement cadenza however was of the same confiding nature as preceding solo parts, felt less disjointed and much more an organic part of the movement. The high-spirited, bubbly final movement displayed the same transparent quality as the opening Schubert, with gleaming brass lines over which the first violins cast their notes like a sugar dusting. The third movement cadenza, recapitulating material of the rondo, fitted seamlessly into the movement, giving it a great sense of overall balance.”     …

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Review by Sam Chipman, PublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “His writing here is actually for an oboe, but was adapted to be performed as a flute concerto. Marie-Christine Zupancic plays with great expression and ability, her cadenzas are suitable stylistic and allow her to show off her virtuosic skills. She is ably accompanied by the CBSO who take delight in the conversation Mozart gives with the soloist. The Allegro is delightfully light and spirited: a true homage to Mozart himself.

“A slice of Rhenish life” is what Schumann called the fourth movement of his Third Symphony, inspired by a visit to Cologne Cathedral and which rounds off the evening. Thrilled by the sights of Dusseldorf after arriving to take up the post of musical director in 1850, the work reflects the beauty of the Rhineland he saw around him; this was before both personal and professional problems arose which resulted in a suicide attempt by drowning in the Rhine in 1854. The Lebhaft is played with triumphant impatience by a larger CBSO orchestra, a vividly bright performance of the great Schumann score. The brass section really grasps the solemn feel of the Feierlich which is played both lyrically and with gravitas, and the final Lebhaft is played with a sense of urgency to bring about the climactic finish.

Kazushi Ono shows his class, as does the CBSO, with this delightful concert. An excellent selection of music to tickle any classic music lovers taste-buds, and played nimbly and with great intelligent awareness by the CBSO, marshalled by Ono – all in all a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music.”

Schubert’s Great

 

 

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Saturday 17th January 2015 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

David Afkham  conductor
Brett Polegato  baritone

Webern: Passacaglia, Op.1 11′
Mahler: Songs of a Wayfarer 14′
Schubert: Symphony No. 9 (The Great) 57′
Listen on Spotify

There’s nothing in all music to compare with Schubert’s monumental Ninth Symphony. Some hear it as a challenge to Beethoven, others hear it as a summer journey through a sunlit world of melody. Either way, it’s a wonderful Birmingham debut for the charismatic young German conductor David Afkham, and a magical complement to Mahler’s ever-fresh Songs of a Wayfarerwww.cbso.co.uk

Support the CBSO

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Review by Sam Chapman, ThePublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “However, on this occasion, Anton Webern’s Passacaglia, Op.1 opens the evening. The CBSO, led by David Afkham ranges from lyrical to passionate where appropriate. The pizzicato string sections are well controlled during this piece.

Gustav Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer is performed by the baritone Brett Polegato; who among other credits has performances at La Scala and l’Opera National de Paris to his name. His clear and intelligently used voice is a pleasure to listen to; however, the performance could benefit from more connection with the text.

The sublime orchestration and changes of mood in Schubert’s ‘Great’ symphony make it incredibly fulfilling to listen to from start to end: it is like a novel full of surprises that leaves a pang of loss once it has come to a close. David Afkham leads the CBSO intelligently, and the attention to the finer details really gives the piece the grand feel it requires. The string section is a joy to listen to, the triplet’s at the piece’s finale lay down a marker and make the performance a great success, if just short of being truly rousing.”     … (sic)

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Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb: (for the matinee concert with different “overture”)

Click here for full review

…     “Afkham demonstrated his orchestral accompaniment skills in the second item: Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) with baritone Brett Polegato sharing the podium. Throughout, the woodwind section provided magnificent support with clarinettists Oliver Janes and Joanna Patton getting things off to a cracking start in Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht (When my darling has her wedding). Billed as a much sought-after lyric-baritone, I expected a more tender ‘ich’ as this wayfarer retired into his ‘traurigen Tag’ and I would have liked more contrast in the middle section as the beauty of the world is envisaged, prior to gloom overtaking him again. Mahler’s love of nature came across in the second movement, ‘Ging heut Morgen übers Feld’ (I Went This Morning over the Field) with the flutes of Marie-Christine Zupancic and Veronika Klirova prominent, yet this joyful mood did not seem reflected in Polegato’s body language;. However his closing Nein, nein, das ich mein, mir nimmer kann! did carry the right timbre. The despair of the wayfarer reached a climax in ‘Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer’ (I have a gleaming knife) mirrored by some ferocious string playing and although Polegato’s diction was always excellent, I did not experience the sheer agony the text portrays; any sensations of the cold steel were absent. The fourth song ‘Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz’ (The two blue eyes of my beloved) provides a resolution to the cycle, notable for its reference to an attachment Mahler had with the singer Johanna Richter from the Kassel Opera House. It also contains a mention of the Lindenbaum, following in the footsteps of his Germanic forefather Franz Schubert and his Winterreise (Winter Journey). All round this was the best execution of the four songs with Polegato’s fine communication of the dénouement and the soloist on the same wavelength as Afkham and the CBSO players.

The empathy Afkham had clearly struck with the CBSO continued in the main contribution to the matinée, Schubert’s Symphony No 9, the Great C Major. Above all they conveyed the expansive nature of the piece, driving relentlessly forward with a meaningful and measured pace, yet never losing sight of the plethora of Schubertian melody that infuses the 1825 score. The horn section got the Andante section of the first movement off to a glorious start (worthy of them being the first orchestral section to be signalled out by Afkham at the close) their beautiful theme suggestive of the beginning of a country stroll, a walk which other sections of the orchestra took turns to lead: the strings led by Laurence Jackson eagerly took up the motif, sonorously echoed by the woodwind. As the opening movement continued the trombone section of Edward Jones, Anthony Howe and David Vines (bass trombone) were soon demonstrating their strapping dexterities, adding their variation to the opening theme, enthusiastically taking the lyrical lead. In his pre-concert address CBSO violinist David Gregory had drawn attention to the symphony’s extensive use of trombones and enlisted the help of the CBSO three-man section to prove his point; we saw what he meant! Afkham moved effortlessly into the Allegro ma non troppo section, vividly highlighting the variety of colours Schubert used to expand his sonata form.”     …

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post: (for the matinee concert with different “overture”)

Click here for full review

…     “But what actually can anyone do with Schubert’s interminable Ninth Symphony?

Just give clear downbeats, keep counting the bars, and remember if you’re going to repeat sections or not. Afkham ticked all those boxes, and ticking away with him throughout were the amazing CBSO strings, so controlled in the infernal, eternal triplet figurations which spin out the finale to paid-by-the-note lengths.

What did help keep the interest alive here was Afkham’s cherishing of inner detail (possibly Schubert’s chamber-music writ large on this overblown canvas), and the sturdy, resonant horns, just two of them sounding like a huge choir, abetted by noble trombones.”     …

Viennese Masters

Thursday 11 April 2013 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Edward Gardner  conductor

Kirill Gerstein  piano

Reger: Two Böcklin Pictures (No’s 1 & 2) 14′ Listen on Spotify

Schubert: Symphony No. 3 25′

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 50′

Unfortunately, Cédric Tiberghien has had to withdraw from this concert due to illness. We are very grateful to Kirill Gerstein who has agreed to take his place at short notice.

Serious fun. Brahms’s Second Concerto is one of the peaks of the piano repertoire, as big as a symphony and breathtakingly difficult. Yet from dreamy opening to sparkling finish, every note radiates pure sunshine – and soloist Kirill Gerstein knows exactly how to make it sing. It’s the joyous climax to a concert that begins with Max Reger’s wonderfully romantic musical paintings from 1913, and Schubert’s bubbly Third Symphony: personal favourites, dished up with love by the CBSO’s popular principal guest conductor.     www.cbso.co.uk

 

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Kirill Gerstein was the pianist (Gardner told me later how they had worked so  successfully together in the recent past).

His grip over the solo writing’s complex harmonic and contrapuntal textures  was superb, his sense of direction in phrasing convincing in its  inevitability.

Gardner’s CBSO responded with proud, glowing tones, lovely string  articulation (the conductor at times digging into the basses instead of milking  the violins), and, of course, the famous solos: Elspeth Dutch’s horn an  authoritative dawn command, Eduardo Vassallo’s cello throbbing, flowing, and so  deservedly acknowledged by Gerstein at the end.”

*****

 

Winter Words from Ian Bostridge

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

Part of A Boy Was Born… more events…

Wednesday 16 January

Town Hall

Town Hall logo

Ian Bostridge tenor
Julius Drake piano

Schubert Twelve songs from Winterreise (A Winter’s Journey) 35’
Ives Memories; Thoreau; 1, 2, 3; Remembrance (A sound of a distant horn); Feldeinsamkeit 12’
Britten Winter Words 22’

Encore – Britten – Waly Waly

Benjamin Britten wrote Winter Words for the tenor Peter Pears, and the duo were legendary interpreters of Winterreise, Schubert’s dark journey of the soul in a bleak winter landscape. Ian Bostridge – one of today’s greatest interpreters of the music of both composers – continues that tradition and performs twelve songs from Winterreise next to Britten’s matchless settings of Thomas Hardy.   www.thsh.co.uk

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Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “As Bostridge insisted at the beginning of the recital, the 12 Schubert songs that he and Drake were performing from Die Winterreise were not an extract from the complete song cycle, but its original version: Schubert set the first 12 Müller poems and performed them to his friends before discovering the texts of the other 12 to create the cycle we know today. If this ur-Winterreise lacks the emotional punch provided in the later version’s second half, it still makes a wonderfully rounded and satisfying whole, which Bostridge pointed up with his usual subtlety, intelligence and discriminating vocal colour.”

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Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Ian Bostridge began his programme with Schubert’s first thoughts on Winterreise and ended with Britten’s Winter Words, (this was part of THSH’s A Boy was Born Britten Fest) and chilled and harrowed us in the process.

The tenor combines a creamy, otherworldly timbre with hypnotic, compelling body-language, prowling around the piano, gripping its rim as he leans and sways – all of this entirely natural and instinctive, no suspicion of contrivance – all of this conveying the sense of an artist totally possessed by his subject.”     …