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Review: The CBSO with Nicola Benedetti

The CBSO With Guest Soloist Nicola Benedetti
The world renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra gave a masterclass in musical performance and skill, when they alongside guest soloist Nicola Benedetti performed music by Tchaikovsky and Berlioz on Saturday February 8th.
With both pieces being epic, both in terms of musical inventiveness, and pure time, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique clocks in at 59 minutes, and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is 34 minutes the large ensemble filled the two compositions with colourful changes in timbre, mood and playfulness. From the opening moments of the Violin Concerto in D Op.35, the former BBC Young Musician of the Year Benedetti had the music and the orchestra under control, with some fine conducting from Klaus Makela. The piece, marked by changes in tone throughout, with a number of short solo violin cadenza, whilst the climatic fourth movement takes influences from gypsy violinist and Russian music, with some lively backing from the brass, and woodwind sections. This was not music for the shy or retiring, requiring colourful, characterful playing from all of the musicians, and the grand surroundings of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall gave full acoustic power to all of the players.
Although Nicola Benedetti is a big draw, the full talent of the CBSO was allowed of the leash during Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, an Opium derived fever dream given full musical vision, from the stirring opening, to the fleet fingered duo harp players during the second movement, the four man Timpani and percussion section that added colour and dynamic range throughout the hour long piece, or the interjections from the strings and the brass section. Six double basses and cellos, as well as violins, and bells all added to the sonic mix of this ground-breaking, monumental but always incredibly listenable piece.