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Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Hélène Grimaud and Nelsons

PARIS/FRANCE: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons is visiting Theatre des Champs Elysees with two concerts over two evenings. The programs are by Johannes Brahms and Sergei Prokofiev both evenings.

The first evening with Hélène Grimaud playing Brahms 1. Piano concerto and Prokofievs Petrusjka ballet music.

The second evening with Anne-Sofie Mutter playing Brahms Violin Concerto, and Prokofievs Romeo and Juliet music after the break. Interesting combinations, which shows the splendid musicians, and many soloists in the orchestra. Demanding for the musicians and the audience.

Robust pianoconcerto

I attended the first evenings concert which started with Hélène Grimaud playing Brahms 1. Piano concerto. It became a robust version, lacking romanticism, the only differents were fortissimo in first and last part, and some pianissimo in the middle part. To me it sounded like the most importent was to play very loud, as loud as possible, and still when it is so outstanding musicians as here in this orchestra, and they do so well

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. It was not good. It was too much.

Johannes Brahms has so much romanticisme and so many beautiful details, that with another idea behind this concert production, it could have been absolutely beautiful, not it became too much. The pianist, Hélène Grimaud, was nearly not taking her right foot of the forte pedal, to give it as much sound as possible, to compare with the much too loud orchestra, that spoils a lot
.  – But she managed will the competition towards the orchestra. Even that all her details were so pefectly played with great brilliance. In the opening I was affraid that the timpanist should spoil the timpani´s. But I understand that this was the wish from the conductor Andris Nelsons, and his musicians did in this way a good job, and were loyal to the boss, but for me, it lacked romanticim and it was too loud, and even some times in the fortissimo opening part it went to slowly, but the pianist managed to speed up the tempo a bit.


City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra after Petrouschka Ballet music by Prokofiev at Theatre des Champs Elysees. Photo Henning Høholt

In Sergei Prokofievs Petrouschka the same happend. Too much power all the time, but in this work it was being a better solution as this ballet has more sensitive details, where the many outstanding soloists could show of them self. It was a great pleassure to enjoy how well they all are playing, and how many details in the work which became more clear, even to me, who have seen the work as a ballet many times. All the many difficult changes in tempi and moods functioned brilliantly- In this way it was a pleasure. But still I have the feeling that the agressicity and too much power that Andris Nelsons is putting in to his direction of the works, is too much. Of course as musical director of the City of Birmongham Symphony Orchestra it is his job, and his right to forme the works they play as he want. – But for me as critic, listening to, and writing review about, nearly all the leading orchestras in the world, this became too agressive and too much fortissimo.

– Also therefore I didn´t want to visit the second concert with the orchestre during their Paris visit, which was with Anne-Sofie Mutter soloist in Brahms Violin Concerto and Prokofievs Romeo and Juliet Music.  – In fact two of my favourite music pieces.









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