Review: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra at Birmingham Symphony Hall

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The magnificent Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra has had many legendary music directors in its 269-year history, among them Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwangler and Mendelssohn.

Its present music director is conductor Riccardo Chailly, whose concert last night at Birmingham Symphony Hall with the orchestra and cello soloist Lynn Harrell proved spellbinding.

Harrell is one of the world's most distinguished cellists, and his performances include recent collaborations with violinist Ann-Sophie Mutter and Andre Previn. Harrell does more than evoke the emotions of a great work of music – he becomes possessed by it, evident in his performance of demanding Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 2.

There was once a trend to heavily edit Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2, but it was presented in its full one-hour form. The adagio movement still cries out for editing, but the orchestra fizzed and sparkled through the up-tempo movements.

By John Watson

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