Thomas Adès: New Horizons

  • ThumbnailDiscover

Wednesday 11 June 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Adès  conductor
Nicolas Hodges  piano

Ravel: Mother Goose (complete) 28′
Barry: Piano Concerto (CBSO co-commission: UK premiere) 20′
Coll: Piano Concertino (UK premiere) 10′
Adès: Tevot 22′
Listen on Spotify

As both internationally-renowned composer and visionary conductor, Thomas Adès is one of the most compelling figures in the contemporary arts, bringing a unique insight to everything he performs. Today, Ravel’s fairy-tale ballet and his own orchestral tour de force Tevot (composed for the Berlin Philharmonic) book-end two fantastic premieres from renowned contemporary pianist Nicolas Hodges: the exuberant Concertino by the young Spanish composer Francisco Coll, and a new Piano Concerto by musical maverick and allround entertainer Gerald Barry. Be ready for anything – except the routine!

“…cascades of sound fragments, insanely loud and soft scales, polyrhythmic adventures and massive chord chunks are hammered by the London pianist Nicolas Hodges with elegant authority…” (Süddeutsche Zeitung – Wolfgang Schreiber)

“The world premiere of Gerald Barry’s Piano Concerto came less hermetically, carried rather with wit and from the playing of the top form pianist Nicolas Hodges with the BR Symphony Orchestra.” (Münchner Merkur – Anna Schürmer)

If you like this concert, you might also like:
Strauss and Shakespeare, Wednesday 18th June



Article by Christopher Morley in conversation with Nicholas Hodges, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full article

…     “Soloist on both occasions was the pianist Nicolas Hodges, who says of Barry’s Concerto: “Like Gerald Barry, his Piano Concerto is quick-witted, gripping and provocative. It’s like Baroque on speed. It’s too much fun.”

He adds: “After university, as a little-known young pianist, I was eager to commission him, but it didn’t work out. Two decades later, I happened to be in Los Angeles and managed to catch his opera The Importance of Being Earnest. Backstage afterwards I plucked up the courage to ask him again, and this time it was a Yes!”

Nicolas Hodges connections with the CBSO go back a long way.

“It’s always great to be back in Birmingham,” he says.”     …



Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…      “Best I can say is that the performance came over with the clarity of Mozart.

Ades began his programme with Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet, beautifully shaped and glowing, concertmaster Laurence Jackson touchingly communicative in all registers, double-basses wonderfully grunting under Ades’ fluid, flickering baton.

But best of all was Ades’ own Tevot, scored for a huge orchestra (seven percussionists, no less), resonances of Mahler and Holst, and its textures and sonorities scything with accents. It ends with warm triumph, like Roy Harris’ Third Symphony of nearly a century ago. This was the only piece in this programme I’d genuinely welcome hearing again.



Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “At the centre of this concert, framed between Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet and Adès’s own Tevot, were two UK premieres, both works for piano and orchestra composed for Nicolas Hodges, who was the soloist here.

Gerald Barry‘s Piano Concerto is typically irreverent, but typically affectionate too. It takes conventional concerto rhetoric and stands it on its head, cramming it into a 25-minute single movement as a careering series of no-holds-barred confrontations between the piano, with its weaponry of forearm clusters, torrents of repeated notes and rare precious moments of utter calm, and an orchestra that can muster rampaging brass, raucous woodwind and, at the breathtaking climax, a torrential toccata, with a couple of antiphonal wind machines thrown in too. It’s surreal, funny, and just a bit breathless, but it’s also a genuine virtuoso vehicle for Hodges, who played it with his usual unfussy brilliance.”     …

The Importance of Being Earnest

Saturday 28 April 2012 at 7.00pm

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

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Thomas Adès conductor
Barbara Hannigan Cecily Cardew
Peter Tantsits John Worthing
Joshua Bloom Algernon Moncrieff
Katalin Karolyi Gwendolen Fairfax
Hilary Summers Miss Prism
Alan Ewing Lady Bracknell
Benjamin Bevan Lane / Merriman

Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest (sung in English with English surtitles) 90′

21st Annniversary Symphony Hall“A Handbag?!” Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is surely the single wittiest play in the English language. Thomas Adès conducts Birmingham’s world-renowned BCMG and a stellar cast in this definitive concert performance of Irish composer Gerald Barry’s brilliant new opera. “My favourite living composer finds the hilarious musical equivalent for Oscar Wilde’s perfect absurdist paradoxes inhis riotously outrageous and funny new opera.” Thomas Adès

“The opera is hysterically funny. The score is highly sophisticated and indescribably zany… The world now has something rare: a new genuinely comic opera…”Los Angeles Times, 8 April 2011

Click here to find out more about composer Gerald Barry and his music.

Stephen Fry, Fiona Shaw, Thomas Adès and Gerald Barry discuss Barry’s new opera ahead of the upcoming European premiere performances.

The performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on May 19th 2012

Article by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

“Turning Oscar Wilde’s “Earnest” Into an Opera”

Click here for full article

Article by Ivan Hewett, Telegraph:

“Gerald Barry talks about his new opera The Importance of Being Earnest”

Click here for full article


Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “Orchestrally, Barry’s score is fascinating, fizzingly through-composed, winkingly allusive at times (including Janacek and Wagner, and the first two acts ending with references to the “Auld Lang Syne” with which the opera, in Barry’s own car-crashing arrangement, begins), and rich in imaginative touches, such as a duet for wind-machines, a seemingly endlessly prolonged brass trill, and two elegantly choreographed plate-smashing cameos.


Thomas Ades conducted with generous commitment, enthusiastically reciprocated by all concerned onstage, and most of a pleasingly sizeable audience.”



Review by Hilary Maddocks, Observer (at Barbican)

Click here for full review

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian (at Barbican)

Click here for full review

Review by Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph (at Barbican)

Click here for full review