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)


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’!


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.”     …




Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Wednesday 23rd September, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra




  • Sibelius Finlandia, 8′
  • Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3, 44′
  • Nielsen Symphony No. 4 (Inextinguishable), 36′


Simon Trpčeski’s encore with Eduardo Vassallo –

Rachmaninov Cello Sonato – Third Movement


“Music is life,” declared Carl Nielsen, “and like it, inextinguishable.” And from volcanic opening to final life-and-death battle, Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony is one of those pieces that you just have to hear live. Birmingham audiences need no introduction to the fabulous Simon Trpčeski, in the grandest of romantic piano concertos, but this should be a powerful debut for conductor Cristian Măcelaru.


Review by Richard Bratby, TheArtsDesk:

Click here for full review

…     “Rachmaninoff once wrote that he conceived the first theme of the Third Concerto as something to be sung by the piano, and that’s exactly how it came across. It helped, of course, that Simon Trpčeski was the soloist. Trpčeski’s artistry is ripening gloriously: the energy, the clarity of touch and brilliance of articulation are as electrifying as ever, but his youthful flamboyance has evolved into a masterly calm and assurance at the keyboard. No histrionics here: cool as iced vodka, Trpčeski at one point reached casually into his pocket, unfolded a handkerchief and dabbed at his brow while the tutti swept by on all sides.

Meanwhile Măcelaru drew seldom-heard colours from the orchestral part: a distant glint of Russian nationalist jewellery in the finale’s col legno passage; and meltingly soft horns in the transition out of the first movement’s epic cadenza – which drew from Trpčeski, in turn, an exquisite tenderness of tone. I’ve heard more spectacular performances of this concerto, but rarely a more musical one.

Eduardo VassalloFor an encore, Trpčeski beckoned to the CBSO’s principal cello Eduardo Vassallo (pictured left by Upstream Photography) , and together they played the gentle third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata. Trpčeski always takes care over his encores (on one occasion assembling an impromptu Macedonian folk band), but this felt particularly intimate. Its appropriateness, and Trpčeski’s eagerness to share his applause, spoke volumes for his priorities as both artist and human being. 

Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony looked on paper like a rather more severe test for Măcelaru – not because in this anniversary year, we’ve heard it too many times (as if!), but because the CBSO has a Nielsen tradition dating back through Oramo and Rattle to Harold Gray’s cycle (the UK’s first) in the 1960s. All the more impressive, then, that he managed to say something distinctive about the piece from the very outset – and without any overt point-making or micromanagement.”     …


Review by David Fanning, Telegraph:

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…     “Trpčeski is one of the most bankable assets for the big concerto repertoire. His first movement cadenza was rock-solid, his scherzando episode in the slow movement scintillating in its clarity, and his entire finale a demonstration-quality display of pianistic fireworks. Through all this Măcelaru steered the accompaniment with close attention to balance and a near-telepathic sense of ensemble.

If there were still a few throwaway phrases from Trpčeski, and even some near-crossing of the line into jazzy nonchalance, those things were amply compensated for by the sweep and authority of his playing. His encore – a dreamy account of the slow movement of Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata with the CBSO’s Eduardo Vassallo – was an inspired initiative.

The second half was given over to Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony – The Inextinguishable. This may be the Dane’s best-known work, and the most direct in its impact thanks to its timpani duels in the finale. But it covers an enormous amount of ground in its 35 minutes, and can feel episodic unless the conductor keeps a firm grip on the structure.

Never tempted to over-react to passages of violent disruption, or, at the other extreme, to exaggerate the score’s repeated requests for calm, Măcelaru placed the climaxes with unerring instinct and led into and away from them with consummate skill.”     …


Review by Robert Gainer, BachTrack:

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…     “The central focus of the evening was not the post-interval symphony, but the first-half concerto. Simon Trpčeski walked out onto the stage with an air of supreme confidence. It was clear before a single note was played that he was here to enjoy himself, and through his composure he forged a connection with the audience that relaxed the hall even while he adjusted his stool. Sympathetically supported by the orchestra, his first notes teased the ear, hinting the theme, seducing the audience to fully engage with the music. Rachmaninov is famous for his long flowing lyrical lines and they require some deep interpretation to make them come off. As a virtuoso pianist himself, he was renowned for the exceptional technical demands of his compositions. Trpčeski was equal to both the musicality and the technique required, his fingers whirling, hammering, tickling, skipping and skating over the keyboard at his whim. The CBSO accompanied with some lush romantic strings. There were moments, however, where I felt they slightly overpowered the soloist. Nonetheless, I was able to immerse myself in the sheer joyous drama of the piece, so well played by Trpčeski, and by the conclusion I was quite elated.

Indeed, Trpčeski seemed to have anticipated the effect he had had on the audience and followed up with an unprogrammed but no-so-impromptu musical treat in a recital of Rachmaninov’s Sonata for Cello and Piano (the third movement). Ably rising to the challenge of playing alongside Trpčeski was CBSO principal cellist Eduardo Vassallo. The playing was delightful and serene, providing calm after the drama of the concerto that was just right for leading into the interval.    […]

[…]      Reflecting afterwards on the concert I could not help but think about the differences in this generation. Măcelaru clearly understood all three in real depth and was able to bring something new and insightful to all of them, particularly the Nielsen symphony. But the lasting memory of the night for me will be the golden touch of pianist Simon Trpčeski in what was a truly tremendous display of virtuosic artistry.”


Review by Rebecca Franks, Times (££)

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…     “Macelaru was not a showy presence but assured, steady and thoughtful, capable of letting the music breathe and tell its own story. His Sibelius Finlandia opened with a heavy tread, but was confidently steered to its triumphant end. And if Nielsen’s The Inextinguishable lacked that final crackle of electricity, it was still bold and compelling.

Each section of the CBSO gleamed: the strings meticulous and intense, with particularly gutsy violas, the wind sensitive and the brass glorious. And in the final movement, the duelling timpanists were wonderfully exhilarating – surely the embodiment of what Nielsen wanted this music to express, “the Elemental Will of Life”.


Russian Classics

ThumbnailRelax and Revitalise

Wednesday 12th November 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Gustavo Gimeno  conductor
Simon Trpceski  piano

Tchaikovsky: Overture: Romeo and Juliet 21′
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 28′
Listen on Spotify

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 (Little Russian) 33′
Listen on Spotify

No composer puts on a show quite like Tchaikovsky – whether it’s the world’s most famous love theme in his Romeo and Juliet overture, or the high-kicking, vodka-fuelled festivities that close his shamelessly tuneful “Little Russian” Symphony. In his CBSO debut, the energetic young Spanish conductor Gustavo Gimeno should get the pulse racing – and joins Birmingham favourite Simon Trpceski in Prokofiev’s best-loved piano concerto.


Support the CBSO


Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “He made a favourable impression here right from the moment that he came onto the platform, shook hands with the orchestra’s leader, Laurence Jackson and then kissed the hand of his first desk colleague, Zoë Byers. It was a courtly gesture that seemed quite unaffected and which raised a smile in the orchestra.  His beat is expressive yet clear and his left hand conveys meaning too. It seemed to me that all his gestures were relevant and not extravagant and he appeared to have a good rapport with the orchestra, which played very well for him. He clearly relished the opportunities to unleash the power of the orchestra in this acoustic – though never in an excessive or vulgar way – yet there was also much dexterous, refined and neat playing to admire also. And how refreshing it was to see a young conductor pay the orchestra the compliment of dressing, like the gentlemen of the CBSO, in white tie and tails rather than in one of the loose-fitting jackets that seem to be all the rage these days.

The Macedonian pianist, Simon Trpčeski joined the orchestra for Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. In the past I’ve greatly admired his work as a concerto soloist in Rachmaninov (review ~ review) and he appeared equally at home in Prokofiev. David Gutman’s useful programme note quoted a perceptive observation by Hugh Ottaway that this concerto ‘accommodates nearly all the Prokofievs we have ever known’. Composed between 1911 and 1921 it contains passages of steely virtuosity and also fine examples of the composer’s lyrical gifts, especially the sweeping melody, so typical of Prokofiev, that we encounter in the finale.  The first movement, after a deceptively gentle start, soon becomes much more vigorous and the music often has a hard edge. Trpčeski despatched the often-formidable piano part with great élan. The second movement, like the second movement of the Second Symphony (1924-25), is a theme and variations. The variations are very wide-ranging in nature and I admired the way both Trpčeski and the orchestra under Gimeno’s direction, brought out the different facets of the music. There was much bravura brilliance in the finale but the aforementioned big melody was given its full value; it was worth waiting for. The ending was exuberant. I enjoyed and admired Trpčeski’s performance in equal measure – as, clearly, did the audience who responded very warmly – and it seemed to me that Gimeno and the CBSO offered him sterling support.”     …



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Between these two came Prokofiev’s Spring-like Piano Concerto no.3, Simon Trpceski the witty and affectionate soloist.

This is such a special work combining dewy freshness and sardonic cockiness, and Trpceski encompassed it all. His percussive playing was delicately poised, his open-eyed ruminations hinted at greater depths, and his amazing bravura did full justice to Prokofiev’s no-holds-barred conception (in some ways Trpceski surpasses what we hear from the composer himself on an ancient recording, but do try to get hold of that).”     …

St Petersburg Philharmonic

St Petersburg Philharmonic

Plays Russian Masterworks

Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12

Tuesday 27 March, 7:30pm

Symphony Hall

St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Yuri Temirkanov conductor
Simon Trpčeski piano

Prokofiev : Classical Symphony 15’
Rachmaninov : Piano Concerto No 2 33’
Shostakovich : Symphony No 5 44’

St Petersburg Philharmonic encore – Elgar – Salut d’Amour


There’s nothing like seeing a legendary Russian orchestra unleashing the full power and passion of the great Russian masterworks. The St Petersburg Philharmonic enjoyed close associations with both Prokofiev and Shostakovich, whose works they perform tonight, alongside Rachmaninov’s richly romantic Second Piano Concerto with virtuoso Simon Trpčeski.


Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall, recommends tonight’s concert: “A few years ago I got to hear the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra perform under its conductor, Yuri Temirkanov, in its home city – I’ve never forgotten what a wonderful experience it was… this all-Russian programme looks to be a knockout.” www.thsh.co.uk



Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

“There’s nothing better than hearing Russian music played by a top Russian orchestra, and the St Petersburg Philharmonic is probably the best there is.

Tuesday’s programme was nothing new – Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, the Second Piano Concerto of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 – but in the hands of Yuri Temirkanov and his remarkable players these familiar works came over totally refreshed. The Prokofiev in particular, which some conductors view as updated Haydn – all crisp definition and mock-Classical deference – was here invested with a brittleness and tongue-in-cheek mischief that sometimes verged on the boisterous and almost like a wakeup call.

Simon Trpceski certainly made one wake up and listen in the concerto – both to his glittering passagework with every note focused in high definition relief, and his finely sculpted cantabile, which alternated between glowing richness and rippling delicacy.”     …            ***** 

Review by Diane Parkes, BehindtheArras:

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…     “For many in the audience the highlight of the evening was without a doubt Simon Trpceski’s performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2.

One of Rachmaninov’s best-known works, it was handled with confidence and zest by Trpceski and received some of the longest applause I have seen at Symphony Hall.”     …     ****

Russian Classics

Saturday 14 May 2011 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andrew Litton conductor
Simon Trpceski piano

Prokofiev: War and Peace – Overture 6′
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 32′ Listen
requires Real Player
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 50′

The Soviet censors called it an “optimistic tragedy”. Shostakovich simply called it his Tenth Symphony. Dark, deeply emotional, packed with secret messages and featuring at its heart a terrifying musical portrait of Stalin himself, Shostakovich’s Tenth is certainly one of the most powerful of all 20th-century symphonies. Regular guest conductor Andrew Litton guides the CBSO through its dark corridors – and joins the dazzling young Macedonian virtuoso Simon Trpceski in another emotional epic, from a very different Russia. You might still think of Rachmaninov’s Second as the Brief Encounter concerto, but with Trpceski at the keyboard, prepare to hear it with new ears. www.cbso.co.uk

Review by Elmley de la Cour, Birmingham Post:


…     “Litton doesn’t sugar-coat his demands and the CBSO responded with great flexibility, shaping the first movement’s giant crescendo into a terrifying, muscular climax.

A mesmerising account of the savage allegro followed. It would be hard to imagine how this could have been any better.”     …

Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony

Tuesday 2 March 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Jaap van Zweden conductor
Simon Trpčeski piano

Mussorgsky Prelude to Khovanshchina 6’
Prokofiev Piano Concerto No 3 27’
Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 60’

One of Holland’s foremost orchestras, with their Principal Conductor Jaap van Zweden, brings a richly romantic programme to Symphony Hall. There’s the heartfelt lyricism and inexhaustible melody of Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony and Mussorgsky’s exquisite Khovanshchina Prelude, evoking dawn over Moscow. And, expect sparks to fly in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto in the hands of Simon Trpčeski – one of today’s hottest young pianists.

Due to the current economic climate we regret that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, originally due to perform at this concert, has been forced to postpone its European tour. However, we are delighted to secure the outstanding Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, with conductor Jaap van Zweden and pianist Simon Trpčeski as originally advertised, in a programme that is virtually unchanged.

“Jaap van Zweden is the principal conductor of no less than four important orchestras around the world, but tonight he returns to his Dutch roots with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. At the core of this impressive programme is the young Macedonian sensation Simon Trpčeski who will tackle one of the trickiest piano concertos in the book, Prokofiev’s ferocious Third.” Oliver Condy, BBC Music Magazine. www.thsh.co.uk

Encore – Prokofiev March

Review by Geoff Brown, Times:


“Van Zweden paid due respect to Rachmaninov’s instrumental colouring. The tuba loomed up like a sea monster. Woodwinds were nicely bumptious. This wasn’t perhaps the subtlest interpretation; but I’d happily bottle its energy.  …

And another energy surge came with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3, a work that requires the pianists’ hands to leap and yell. No problem for Simon Trpceski, the Macedonian wonder, whose finger power and feeling for rhythm is second to none. And Van Zweden’s troops weren’t left panting, even in the hurtling finale. Smiles all round.”

Review by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:


…”He was well-matched in Simon Trpceski, who has a marvellous way of seizing the rhythms so that they seem almost early – but not quite. Together they brought an amazing edge-of-the seat excitement to Prokofiev’s concerto, but the best moment came in a tranced passage in the first movement, when clarinet, bassoon and Trpceski’s left-hand musings were intermingled. Suddenly, amid all the tumult, we had the intimacy of chamber music.” …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


… “The highlight of the evening was Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3, Simon Trpceski the soloist. The quirky fairy-tale interludes were set into an appropriate context, and Trpceski’s virtuosity never stole the thunder of this enchanting music.

Trpceski’s encore, a miniature Prokofiev March, was just perfect.”

Review by Hilary Finch, The Observer:


… “This week van Zweden, the young Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski and the Netherlands RPO have been on tour in the UK. If Birmingham’s all-Russian programme was the measure, this was first-class music-making. Trpceski gave a scintillating account of Prokofiev’s knotty third piano concerto, managing to bring a bendy, relaxed manner to the spiky, motoric figurations.

The second movement theme and variations had an improvisatory feel, as if Trpceski, jazzily noodling up and down the keyboard, had suddenly whisked us from the comfort of Symphony Hall to a cocktail bar. After, in response to noisy cheers from a stunned audience, he charmed us with the tiny march from Prokofiev’s Musiques d’enfants as an encore, a mere 34 bars (and nearly as many key changes) of sparky pleasure.” …