dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Published January 30th 2014
CBSO raise the roof
To many people, Saint-SaŽns' Organ Symphony may be famous because it forms the basis of music in the hit movie Babe.
In many ways it was a logical choice as the Symphony No 3 is a piece of music filled with hope and with triumph.
And, at the hands of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and organist Stephen Farr, it certainly felt like it could raise the roof.
It is the finale of the work which really takes the breath away as the organ springs to life, vying for supremacy with the soaring strings and strident brass section.
And under the baton of conductor Kazuki Yamada, the Organ Symphony was confident and majestic, sweeping all before it.
Farr was also able to reveal his talents with Widor's Toccata from his Organ Symphony No 5, a rich and colourful piece which really allows any organist the chance to revel in his, or her, skills.
When it comes to dexterity, pianist Francesco Piemontesi had it at his fingertips as he masterfully handled Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. One moment he was playing lightly with the orchestra, passing the musical baton back and forth, the next he was duelling with them, taking control of Rachmaninov's delightful variations.
Beginning the programme was Faurť's Pelleas and Melisande Suite in which the composer takes us on a journey through the doomed romance of the famous lovers.
Yamada had an easy rapport with the CBSO, clearly comfortable with all of the pieces of music and enjoying the experience of working with the orchestra. And the performance met with rapturous applause from a packed Symphony Hall.