Beethoven Week: The Choral Symphony

ThumbnailRaise the Roof

Sunday 21st September 2014 at 7.00pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Annette Dasch  soprano
Lioba Braun  mezzo soprano
Ben Johnson  tenor
Vuyani Mlinde  bass
CBSO Chorus  

Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 27′
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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (Choral) 67′
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Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is the summit of any Beethoven cycle – and some might say, the whole of classical music. But there’s a lifetime of experience to live through before we get to that final, transcendent Ode To Joy, and Beethoven’s explosive little Eighth Symphony launches a concert that’s sure to be one of the most talked-about events in Birmingham this year.

Supported by The Mailbox

If you like this concert, you might also like:
War and Peace, Thursday 6th November
Schubert’s Great, Wednesday 14th January 2015 & Saturday 17th January 2015
Brahms and Beethoven, Wednesday 25th March 2015 & Saturday 28th March 2015

£12.50, £19, £25, £34, £39, £44 plus transaction fee*

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Review by Rian Evans, Guardian:

Click here for full review

…     “Plaudits first to the glorious CBSO chorus, their discipline making Beethoven’s huge demands on them appear negligible: intonation and enunciation of Schiller’s words wereimpeccable, and the care given to the oft-repeated word‚ “brüder” underlining the aspiration to peaceful brotherhood had its own powerfully cumulative effect. The orchestra, too, was in optimum form: details precisely honed, while also sustaining the almost Wagnerian expansiveness that Nelsons brought to the phrasing. The Eighth Symphony, a world away from the lofty ideals of the Ninth, had carried the same balance of a dancing grace with dramatically explosive bursts of rhythmic energy.

But from the quietly arresting opening, it was the organic progress of the Ninth that held the attention, with the contemplative heart of the slow adagio allowing the choral finale to emerge as a logical conclusion to everything so far. South African Vuyani Mlinde who sang the stirring bass solo, joined with soloists Annette Dasch, Lioba Braun and Ben Johnson, to push the reluctant Nelsons on for a solo bow. Nothing to do with him, he tried to suggest, only the genius of Beethoven.”

*****

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Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

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…     “The cycle culminated in a magnificent ninth: a scherzo of relentless energy, a slow movement wafted in from a beatific realm, an orchestral recitative which really spoke and a well-integrated quartet of soloists in Annette Dasch, Lioba Braun, Ben Johnson and Vuyani Mlinde who were equal to Beethoven’s demands.

And of course there’s the tremendous 130-strong CBSO Chorus, under their associate conductor David Lawrence, their articulation and attack enhanced by having the score in their heads rather than their heads in the score.

If the CBSO is the crowning glory of Birmingham’s musical life then its Chorus is the jewel in that crown.

In Schiller’s Ode to Joy, the celebrants are described as “feuertrunken” (drunk on fire) and often the orchestra played like that – intoxicated by Beethoven’s music, soaring on a natural high which infected the audience with their enthusiasm and brought us all within the enchanted circle for the duration of each work. It was a privilege to be invited in.”

 

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Mozart’s C Minor Mass

ThumbnailRelax and Revitalise

Thursday 26th June 2014 at 7.30pm

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

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Malin Christensson  soprano
Christine Rice  soprano
Ben Johnson  tenor
Vuyani Mlinde  bass
John Tattersdill  double bass
CBSO Chorus  

Mozart: Symphony No. 40 26′
Mozart: Misero! O sogno – Aura, che intorno spiri 11′
Mozart: Per questa bella mano 7′
Mozart: Mass in C minor 51′
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Watch on YouTube

When Mozart got married, he made a pact with heaven – and Mozart took his promises seriously. The result was the tremendous C minor Mass: a soul-shaking choral epic on the grandest possible scale. If you love Mozart’s Requiem, you’ll be knocked backwards when Andris Nelsons, the CBSO Chorus and a top-notch team of soloists come together for a concert that also features Mozart’s best-loved symphony and his only solo for double bass, featuring the CBSO’s popular section leader. Hearing is believing.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Sarah-Jane Brandon has sadly had to withdraw from these concerts. We are grateful to Malin Christensson for taking her place at short notice.

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Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:

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…     “Mozart’s Requiem has the fame but his Mass in C minor perhaps has the more beautiful music. The wind band harmonies at the start of Et incarnatus est with Malin Christensson soaring gently above them was balm for the soul.

The Swedish soprano began the Kyrie tentatively, her trill sketchy, but relaxed and improved as the work progressed.

In Domine Deus she blended well with mezzo Christine Rice who was assured and agile in the demanding coloratura passages of Laudamus te, accompanied by crisp and energetic playing from the CBSO, astutely conducted by Andris Nelsons.

The CBSO Chorus was splendid and their intensity and dynamic range in Qui tollis made it the dark heart of the work: they’re a credit to choral director Simon Halsey.”     …

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Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard, MusicWeb:

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…     “The humour of Mozart cropped up again in Per questa bella mano, an unusual combination for bass voice, solo double bass and orchestra – the only time Mozart composed for the largest member of the string section and at K612 he left it rather late. But he had his reasons! By making the instrumental obbligato part extremely difficult, Mozart (according to one source) supposedly intended to humiliate his orchestra’s double bass player for having shown an interest in his wife Constanze; a more plausible reason for its composition was simply for its inclusion in a little known comic opera of 1791. CBSO section leader John Tattersdill, who has been with them since 1973, was never going to be embarrassed: his leaps and double-stopping were more than equal to the task. Even the centre platform grouping of a male vocalist, a conductor and a double bass player struck me as somewhat comical. The low register affirmation of love from an effortless Vuyani Mlinde was deliberate in tone yet resounding in projection; together with the emphasised movements of the virtuosic Tattersdill up and down his instrument’s long neck, the combination exuded parody.”     …

LSO: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12

Friday 16 December, 7:30pm

Symphony HallSymphony Hall logo

London Symphony Orchestra
The Monteverdi Choir
Sir John Eliot Gardiner conductor
Rebecca Evans soprano
Wilke te Brummelstroete mezzo-soprano
Michael Spyres tenor
Vuyani Mlinde bass-baritone

Beethoven Symphony No 1 26’
            Symphony No 9, Choral 67’

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra ignite the exhilarating drama of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, crowned with the luminous voices of The Monteverdi Choir for the concluding Ode to Joy. The towering majesty of Beethoven’s great masterpiece is cast alongside the composer’s first youthful adventure in symphonic form.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, recommends tonight’s concert: “The LSO, one of the world’s most thrilling orchestras, knows its Beethoven, there’s no doubt. And you can be sure that Sir John Eliot Gardiner will bring his huge experience of authentic performance to this concert. Top-notch singers too. A real treat.”

 Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/12/23/review-beethoven-s-choral-symphony-london-symphony-orchestra-at-symphony-hall-65233-29990254/

…     ” Undoubtedly he would have admired the crack playing of the London Symphony Orchestra, brass well-focussed, woodwind tumbling over each other in their glittering eloquence, timpani with the gift of holding our attention with the quietest of rhythmic articulation in the scherzo, and appropriately vibrato-less string sounds at the music’s cosmic opening.

But that last characteristic was the closest we got to rawness in Gardiner’s interpretation of a work where the composer had at last broken the bounds of everything (including his own preceding eight symphonies) that had gone before. Everything here was slick, streamlined in its honing, and communicating little of Beethoven’s vast elemental struggle to realise his vision.”     …

Haydn 200 : The Creation

Thursday 3 December 2009 at 7.30pm

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

Andris Nelsons  conductor
Ailish Tynan  soprano
Toby Spence  tenor
Vuyani Mlinde  bass
CBSO Chorus  

Haydn: The Creation (sung in English) 109′

“When I think of God, I can’t help writing cheerful music,” admitted Joseph Haydn. So it’s no wonder that his great oratorio The Creation is one of the freshest, happiest and most unstuffy pieces of religious music ever written. Fizzy operatic arias, blockbuster choruses and a visionary musical depiction of the birth of the Universe itself – they’re all part of Haydn’s shamelessly tuneful version of the Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve even get their own love-duet! There’s no more enjoyable way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Haydn’s death – and to hear the CBSO’s magnificent chorus in full, resplendent voice.www.cbso.co.uk

Tonight’s concert is supported by the Tolkien Trust.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2009/12/04/review-cbso-performs-haydn-s-creation-at-symphony-hall-65233-25322809/

“…The result is irresistible in the right hands, and Nelsons’ were certainly those.

In addition to the sprightly orchestral playing (Peter Hill’s timpani looked modern but sounded so authentic) and vivid choral contributions, the continuo-playing of fortepianist Alistair Young and cellist Ulrich Heinen was alert and deliciously seasoned. …”