Press Reviews

Here are a selection of archive Concert Reviews:

[5-Stars] "Bradshaw Hall was a fine venue for this splendid concert, reuniting Midland Youth Orchestra alumni in order to remember the amazing contribution of Stephen Williams, first as a founder-member viola-player, later conductor, music director and chairman. Some members of this specially-assembled orchestra now play in professional capacities, not least leader David Gregory from the CBSO. In Search or Altruism, written by Stephen originally as a tribute to MYO founder Blyth Major (there is a "big tune" in B Major), and subsequently dedicated to the young Nobel Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, indulged in sweeping melodies, chunks of imaginative percussion, brass solos and colourful woodwinds, with a final noble tutti leading to thought-provoking 'false endings' - smiles all round. Soloist Charlotte Moseley truly transported us with familiar contrasts in Bruch's poignant Violin Concerto. Here is a performer with a wide repertoire of concerti having caught the music bug aged five and now sharing her musical passions with many local audiences. Hard work has added a masters degree to her accomplishments (DipRAM), graduating with distinction - her debut CD is to be released this spring. Lugubrious dark clarinets opened Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, with sweeping strings introducing the full orchestra with majestic fortissimo. All emotions from heart-stopping tenderness to overwhelming fortissimos were revealed in this account under MYO alumnus and conductor Anthony Bradbury - no holds barred!" Birmingham Post review of Stephen Williams Commemoration Concert featuring Midland Youth Orchestra alumni

[Margaret Fingerhut]
“Then… a World Premiere: musician Tony Bridgewater’s Concert Piece for Piano and Strings was our evening’s indulgence. Again solo pianist Margaret Fingerhut approached the lilting lop-sided rhythmic patterns with steely vigour, plus seemingly endless octaves – an obstinate ostinato bemusing the audience, thankfully directed clearly by committed, and totally efficient conductor, Anthony Bradbury. This evening’s tour-de-force was Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. A huge challenge for any orchestra. Opening with sensitive strings, it was obvious that hours of personal agonising had led to this splendid performance. Exposed pianissimo strings stopped the heart, with splendid solos from leader Anna Downes, woodwinds, and solemn inclusions from feisty brass. The heroic composer bravely paid tribute to Stalin’s 7 million executions 1935-1941… the intensity of his music being truly scary. Not for nothing did he always have a packed suitcase by his door for a hasty retreat. So… this performance certainly made one think.” Birmingham Post review of Central England Ensemble concert

“Hungarian horn star Ondrej Vrabec took centre stage as soloist in the exhilarating new Andrew Downes Horn Concerto. Conductor Anthony Bradbury had obviously worked everyone thoroughly for this taxing work, therefore all evidently enjoyed the fanfares, echo phrases, catchy dance-rhythms, musical questions and answers. Thrilling woodwinds eventually led to a richly harmonic plainsong style and gentle sensitive solo lines. Complex rhythms teased in the exciting finale of this most accessible work, eventually finishing with the soloist’s triumphant ‘whoop’.” Birmingham Post review of Central England Ensemble concert

[AJB at The Bradshaw Hall]
"[On Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture] The busy fugato passages were particularly well delivered under music director Anthony Bradbury... [On Puccini's Madama Butterfly] Under Bradbury's fluent conducting the CEE gave a flexible, attentive and sensitively-nuanced account of this, Puccini's most Wagnerian score... [On the Prelude from Wagner's Götterdämmerung] The orchestra played out of its socks for Bradbury, and the principal horn was stunning in Siegfried's Rhine Journey." Birmingham Post review of Central England Ensemble concert

"... [On Stravinsky's Symphony in E flat] Anthony Bradbury drew a feisty performance from the excellent players." The Sunday Times review of CBSO Youth Orchestra concert

"Anthony Bradbury conducted the first half, his witty [Stravinsky] Greeting Prelude reminding us that this would have been the 50th birthday of the Midland Youth Orchestra which provided the seed-corn for this present remarkable body. His Boultian baton also secured a gripping reading of Stravinsky's student E-flat Symphony, chockful with influences but also with intimations of future individuality." Birmingham Post review of CBSO Youth Orchestra concert

"The young conductor, Anthony Bradbury, was throughout, and not least in the 2nd Symphony in G Major by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a supremely good and competent director. Lively and flexible, he sculpted the panorama of the British capital in The London Symphony. The weightless voice of a summer morning over the Thames was as present as the humorous cry of the docklands or a rousing inner city march. The work concluded with a gossamery dying away of the strings. The guests from Birmingham must have been pleased by the warm applause." Nordsee Zeitung (Germany) review of Central England Ensemble concert

"[On Haydn's Harmoniemesse] At the centre of all this was conductor Anthony Bradbury, in his final concert with the BFCS. His unfussy manner could not conceal his mastery of this 50-minute work's structure, without which the fun would have gone for nothing. As it was, the pleasure that he and his performers took in this life-enhancing music communicated itself unmistakably." Birmingham Post review of Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert

"[On Dvorak's Requiem] Anthony Bradbury created a lovely performance full of telling contrasts. Here is a chorus well versed with the meaning of the words, shaping the text with clarity and faultless intonation – particularly in unaccompanied sections, and a sense of high drama offsetting tender gentleness." Birmingham Post review of Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert

[AJB at Birmingham Town Hall]
"... an exhilarating account of Richard Strauss' Rosenkavalier Suite, where the CEE horns covered themselves with glory, strings came through the searching challenges commendably, and Anthony Bradbury shaped a fine sense of climax." Birmingham Post review of Central England Ensemble concert

"Intonation was secure, attack was clearly defined, and wind chording was firm, features immediately apparent in a sonorous, well-sprung account of Glinka's A Life for the Tsar Overture. Conductor Anthony Bradbury, surviving a busy weekend with Saturday's BFCS concert as well, judged the opening's pauses perfectly to the Symphony Hall acoustic... Dvorak's New World, the last symphony the MYO will ever tackle, saw Bradbury's clear beat allowing his charges room to play, with some fabulous contributions from horns, solo clarinet and Stephanie Oatridge's evocative cor anglais." Birmingham Post review of Midland Youth Orchestra concert

"... [On Andrew Downes' Celtic Rhapsody premiere] Authoritatively conducted by Anthony Bradbury, a generally confident orchestra was at its best in the first song (a simple, eloquent cello opening and arresting juxtapositions of lyricism with rollicking rhythmic motifs) and the third's rousing close... Attention to detail was consistently impressive, but the cathartic lushness and gutsiness of Borodin's Polovstian Dances provided an irresistible close." Birmingham Post review of Midland Youth Orchestra concert

"A glowing, committed reading of Nielsen's First Symphony was one of the highlights of Saturday's concert from the Midland Youth Orchestra. Careful attention to detail from music director Anthony Bradbury complemented a spirited approach from these talented young players to impart taut enthusiasm, vigour and dedication to this sinewy music. Reserves of power were patiently built, culminating in the climaxes of the MYO's splendid heavy brass section; elsewhere deft utterances from a gifted woodwind department were appropriately runic." Birmingham Post review of Midland Youth Orchestra concert

"... but it was left to the opening of Rutter's familiar Gloria and the direction of Anthony Bradbury to reveal the best of all musicians, when with the powerful support of Kevin Gill on organ and ebullient brass, resonant singing and ringing entries really did communicate exuberant inspiration." Birmingham Post review of Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert

"Conductor Anthony Bradbury's uncompromising insistence on quality paid dividends especially in Stanford's Motets where a bristling tenor section shone as brilliant as sunlight glistening on the church's gilt interior. Furthermore, Bradbury's discerning ear added staying power to the tonality in an environment which, with regard to pitch, took no prisoners." Birmingham Post review of Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert

[AJB Conducting]
"... [On D'Erlanger's Requiem] Their rendering under inspirational conductor Anthony Bradbury was committed and devoted, sopranos bravely encompassing the frequent top C's this gauche composer demands of them, basses putting their manhood to the test in his unaccompanied, pianissimo bottom E's and, later, D's." Birmingham Post review of Birmingham Festival Choral Society concert

"[On Arnold Symphony no. 2] A warm and affectionate allegro and sinister but colourful vivace were gripping but even better was the ethereal tragedy of the lento, shattered by chilling brass and percussion, and the exuberant last movement, the breezy woodwind theme and fierce, fugal writing providing brilliant contrast. Excellent horn, piccolo and bassoon solos deserve special mention, as does resourceful, positive string playing. Conducted by Anthony Bradbury, this was a genuinely professional standard of performance, revealing the structure and vivid, uncluttered orchestration behind the engaging surface glitter of Arnold's work." Birmingham Post review of Midland Youth Orchestra concert

"Anthony Bradbury, conducting neatly and expressively - a boon for young players, conveyed the dramatic excitement of [Arnold's Peterloo] overture with powerful assurance... [Franck's] symphony, too, was persuasively handled and sturdily executed, tensely brooding from the start, joyously full-blooded in the broad melodic sweeps, and very secure in the Allegretto, with some lovely solos from the cor anglais, horn and cello principals." Birmingham Post review of Midland Youth Orchestra concert