Schumann’s “Rhenish” symphony opens in a blaze of glory, and ends at a beer festival. He’d just taken a new job, and everything about the Rhineland intoxicated him – from the majestic sweep of the river itself, to the gothic grandeur of Cologne Cathedral. So he poured it all into his biggest and most ambitious symphony: five movements of romantic melody at its most exuberantly unbuckled. There’s still no more tuneful way to take a cruise down the Rhine, and you don’t even have to leave your seat in Symphony Hall! But that’s just the climax of this colourful programme from Jac van Steen – always a very welcome guest here in Birmingham. He gets the party started with a musical circus trick: a set of sparkling Czech dances from Smetana’s funniest opera. And Steven Osborne is the soloist in Shostakovich’s wickedly entertaining Second Piano Concerto, written as a birthday present for the composer’s teenage son and never far from the Classic FM Hall of Fame.
CBSO+ 1pm: A pre-concert performance of Nielsen's Maskarade Overture and Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin: Suite by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Seal.