Is any orchestra programming higher?

Within the Metropolis of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s centenary, the daring continues even when the music director is having household time. Michael Seal, affiliate conductor (and former violinist) of the orchestra, pushed the envelope out final night time with unfamiliar scores on a Brexit Thursday. Unique evaluate within the Slipped Disc CBSO100 collection by Richard Bratby:


CBSO / Michael Seal / Paul Rissmann

Symphony Corridor



“The Thrill of the New” was the way it was billed, and with the CBSO scheduled to offer some 40 premieres over its two centenary seasons, the concept appears to have been to supply a painless introduction to new(ish) music for – let’s say? – the extra traditionally-inclined concertgoer. So Michael Seal performed an appetising unfold of bite-size modernist favourites courting from 1909 to final month, launched and defined with vibrant visible aids and unapologetic good humour by Paul Rissmann. A fairly-sized viewers was clearly on board with the idea: chuckling on the remaining deflation of Jörg Widmann’s Con Brio (timpanist Tibor Hettich took a well-deserved bow), and sighing after the blissed-out string sonorities of Jennifer Higdon’s String Lake.

Seal sorted the small print with out ever letting the sense of route flag, and the CBSO responded with deliciously filthy trombones and reeds within the suite from Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face (nonetheless absolutely the very best factor he’s accomplished), glinting half-tones in Knussen’s The Option to Fort Yonder and fluorescent, Janáček-like brass in Daniel Kidane’s Woke: premiered final month on the Proms, and cheered enthusiastically tonight. The gamers descended gamely into the stalls to steer a mass-participation efficiency of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music – with steering from Rissmann, it labored relatively properly.

If the repertoire tended, general, in direction of the comparatively “secure” (and Elena Kats-Chernin’s impeccably bland Massive Rhap would have raised yawns even in 1920), that’s comprehensible given the live performance’s professed objective. Hopefully it’ll develop into an annual fixture; and maybe in time, within the metropolis of Jonathan Harvey and Brian Ferneyhough, the energy of the dose is perhaps elevated. For now, it’s a curious reflection on our tradition that probably the most genuinely startling music on the programme was additionally the oldest: one in all Schoenberg’s 5 Items, written a decade earlier than the CBSO was based.

Richard Bratby

See all of the season’s evaluations right here.

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