Music Review: Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Words: Kevin Stanley
Friday 05 May 2023
reading time: min, words

Kevin Stanley reviews the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra...


Tonight is the first time that the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s new Music Director, Kazuki Yamada has visited Nottingham, and as he takes to the stage it’s clear that we are about to witness a rather special evening of music. The programme for the evening is Dvořák’s, Carnival Overture, Bruch’s, Violin Concerto No. 1 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s, Scheherazade.

Yamada is our conductor for the evening and he marshals his orchestra with a commanding presence. He’s passionate and enthusiastic – almost dancing at times as he shuffles and shakes, full of energy, as he summons every last bit of commitment and verve from his players.

Daishin Kashimoto is the guest solo violinist for the show and he plays the solo parts of Dvořák’s, Carnival Overture beautifully. It’s jolly, fast paced and captures the atmosphere of a carnival, filling the Royal Concert Hall with a wonderful noise.

Next up is Max Bruch’s First Violin Concerto, a piece well known to many of the audience and considered to be one the finest and most popular pieces of music for the violin – naturally Daishin Kashimoto once again takes the solo violin parts. What a treat!

After the interval, the final piece of the evening is Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. It’s almost an hour long, split into three movements in between which Yamada playful encourages applause from the audience for his hard-working orchestra – which he rightly receives!

dancing at times as he shuffles and shakes

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is awash with the exoticism of Arabia. It’s a musical drama about The Tales of the Thousand and One Nights – better known to English readers as The Arabian Nights. The story tells of Sultan Shahryār who upon finding that his wife has been unfaithful to him, has her executed, before proceeding to marry a succession of virgins, each of whom he executes the following morning before they can be unfaithful. Scheherazade is the next bride but on the fateful night of the marriage she tells the Sultan a tale… refusing to finish the story, forcing the Sultan to delay her execution the following morning as he is curious to find out how the story ends. The following night Scheherazade finishes the tale, but begins another, and her ploy goes on for one thousand and one nights...

The solo violin of Rimsky-Korsakov’s music gives voice to Scheherazade, spinning yarns about the great sea captain, Sinbad, and the exotic locations that his adventures take him to, coloured by the composer’s most gorgeous melodies and dramatic orchestration. Every instrument in the orchestra seems to get a chance to shine in this piece! It’s a truly stunning piece of music and it is meet with rapturous applause. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra have given us a fantastic night of amazing music.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra concert took place at the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Thursday 4 May, 7:30pm.

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