Mahler's Second Symphony, known as the Resurrection because of its finale' awesome depiction of Judgement Day, has figured frequently as an important landmark in Birmingham' musical history.
It gave the city the accolade of holding Gramophone magazine?s ?Record of the Year? award for 1988, with a performance from the CBSO and Chorus conducted by Simon Rattle on the EMI label. The same forces played it at the official opening of Symphony Hall on June 12 1991, televised live on BBC2. And, being a personal talisman of the by now Sir Simon Rattle, it was chosen by the great conductor for his farewell concert at Symphony Hall before leaving the CBSO for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tonight this vivid, mighty work can be heard at Symphony Hall again, performed this time by the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, soprano Sarah Tynan and mezzo-soprano Julianne de Villiers, with Jaap van Zweden conducting (7.30pm).
The CBSO itself offers three attractive programmes here during the week, beginning tomorrow with ?Best of Ellington? (7.30pm). Sharing the platform will be the renowned BBC Big Band, the delightful vocalist Kim Criswell, who always goes down a storm with CBSO audiences, and conductor/pianist Wayne Marshall. The concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
On Saturday under conductor Vasily Petrenko it repeats yesterday afternoon?s matinee of Rimsky-Korsakov?s Russian Easter Festival Overture, Chopin?s intimate and songful Second Piano Concerto with Boris Berezovsky as soloist, and Rachmaninov?s gripping, often sinister Symphonic Dances (7pm).
And on Wednesday Sakari Oramo returns to the orchestra?s podium with a programme featuring two gifted young soloists in romantic concertos: Arabella Steinbacher in Bruch?s first for the violin, and CBSO principal hornist Elspeth Dutch in the earlier of Richard Strauss? two concertos for her instrument.
Schumann?s exhilarating First Symphony, the Spring, completes the evening, which opens with a rare hearing of the Symphonic Variations on an African Theme by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the first prominent Black British composer, best known for his popular cantata Hiawatha?s Wedding Feast. This concert begins at 7.30pm, repeated on Thursday at 2.15pm.
A more intimate side of Schumann can be heard on Sunday morning, in the latest of Symphony Hall?s popular and audience-friendly Coffee Concerts (or orange juice, or sherry). As part of the ECHO Rising Star series, clarinet-tist Nicolas Baldeyrou is joined by pianist Vahan Mardirossian in the composer?s Fantasiestucke, preceded by the Introduction and Allegro by Widor (better known as the composer of that Organ Symphony) and followed by Brahms? autumnally lovely E-flat Clarinet Sonata (11am, details of all Symphony Hall events on 0121 780 3333).
Also on Sunday, an evening trip down to Malvern brings the opportunity of hearing the consistently excellent Chandos Symphony Orchestra at the spa town?s Forum Theatre. Under the highly-regarded Michael Lloyd (who also achieves such tremendous results with the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra), the well-motivated CSO (operating on only two weekends of rehearsal for each concert) plays Brahms? Tragic Overture, the perennial Grieg Piano Concerto, with the young Scottish pianist Martin Cousin as soloist (he was the hand double playing Rachmaninov?s Third Piano Concerto in the film Shine; he is also a recent prizewinner in Birmingham?s much-respected Brant Piano Competition), and Dvorak?s tautly powerful Symphony no.7.
Over a pint in Wetherspoon?s pub in Paradise Forum, Lloyd recently gave me an illuminating exposition of the pitfalls of performance in this apparently effortless piece. My spies within Chandos tell me that Lloyd is ?well pleased? with the way it is going in rehearsal (7.45pm, details on 01684 892277).
Solihull is a busy place this weekend. On Saturday the Solihull Choral Society is in residence at Olton Friary in St Bernard?s Road, for a Salzburg-themed programme of the Requiem by Josef Haydn?s younger brother Michael. Michael apparently liked a drop, and, unable to fulfil a commission, was rescued by Mozart, who finished the job for him. Mozart?s own Credo Mass completes the programme (7.30pm, 0121 707 2963).
The same evening, the church of Our Lady of the Wayside on the Stratford Road in Shirley is the venue for the inaugural concert of the Solihull Symphony Orchestra (previously known as the Knowle Sinfonia). Martin Leigh, a young conductor making an increasingly renowned name for himself, directs the SSO and the Hampton Singers in Beethoven?s Choral Symphony, and Victoria Rex is the soloist in a clarinet concerto by Crusell (7.30pm, details on 0121 745 5548).
On Sunday, finally, Solihull?s lovely St Alphege Church hosts a visit from the Little Big Time Band, one of the CBSO?s most charming offshoots, in a concert promoted by the Friends of St Alphege (7.30pm, 0121 704 9196). Martin Leigh is busy again the same afternoon, conducting the Birmingham University Philharmonic Orchestra in Birmingham Conservatoire?s Adrian Boult Hall (3pm, 0121 704 9196).