[Birmingham Opera Company’s] whole point is to upend traditional assumptions about opera. The big difference in its production last year of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk came from the orchestra [City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra]. Chauhan drove Shostakovich’s score with a brooding, purposeful intensity that felt as though you’d been caught in a riptide and dragged under…‘At Birmingham Opera Company diversity is the norm. It’s just what Birmingham looks like.

 

More significant, surely, is the fact that — as one commentator on Lebrecht’s blog put it — Chauhan ‘is just very, very good’. That’s no accident, either: he spent his twenties laying the groundwork of a highly individual symphonic career. He served as assistant conductor at the CBSO, conducted opera in Sardinia and Spain, and has just come to the end of a stint as music director of the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini [La Toscanini] in Parma; a small but spirited Italian orchestra whose players blossomed audibly when Chauhan offered them a respite from endless Verdi and Rossini.

 

It’s early days yet, but when we talk of a future in which classical music is more responsive to its community, less addicted to short-term sensation — in a word, more meaningful — Chauhan might be among those who can show us the way.


– The Spectator
 

2021

 

“Ecstasy from Birmingham Opera Company..[…]..Alpesh Chauhan conducted the 87 players of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with a commanding sense of when to sustain and when to let everything blaze. The singing, too, was fearlessly characterised..[…]..it’s vital that this company — incontestably the most artistically significant force in British opera this century — finds a way forward in Vick’s absence. It simply must.”

The Spectator - August 2021

 

“The ensemble [Graham Vick] nurtured, including a full-force City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under brilliant young Alpesh Chauhan..[…]..BOC’s new Music Director, honoured his memory to the hilt by making sure that the quality of the work and the intensity of the experience, music drama at its best, came first…Later the Nibelung Alberich has enslaved bring up the gold in black washing-up bowls and place it around the stage to the most effective crescendo with the most overwhelming climax I’ve heard from an orchestra in 18 months – there are more to come in Chauhan’s superbly paced interpretation”

The Arts Desk - August 2021

“There could have been no more fitting tribute to the late Graham Vick than this exhilarating presentation of Wagner's RhineGold from Birmingham Opera Company…Conductor Alpesh Chauhan had obviously rehearsed his players meticulously, and his accompaniment to the action allowed all the leitmotif detail to tell whilst maintaining a forward-moving flow.

And Chauhan's conducting of the affirmative conclusion in Valhalla took us right back to the primordial opening deep in the Rhine. He had secured one vast phrase in one huge sweep.”

Midlands Music Reviews - August 2021

 

“[The cast] get fantastic support, and a lot more, from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Chauhan’s impeccably paced and persuasive direction…the glorious orchestral outburst [at the end] sounds like a celebration of Vick himself — a man who did so much to make opera matter to so many people.”

The Times  - August 2021

 

“Symphony Hall was plunged into gloom for Wagner’s wonderful evocation of the story’s emergence from primal unconsciousness, the slow burgeoning of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s sound controlled with an absolutely sure hand by the company’s music director Alpesh Chauhan (who was superb throughout)…In all the production was a triumph. What a tragedy its prime mover wasn’t there to see it.” The Telegraph - August 2021

“[Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony] is not always an easy work to pull off effectively but Chauhan clearly understands it and was able to communicate it to the online audience. He knew not to rush. The Scottish has to unfold at a measured pace and trying to force it can destroy its magic – Chauhan got it just right. As a result, the more dramatic episodes of the first movement contrasted more strongly with the reflective, contemplative parts. A burbling clarinet tune ushered in the cheerful second movement, hinting at Scottish folk tunes without actually quoting any. The third movement was smooth and flowing, Chauhan lovingly shaped the beautiful melodies. In the lively finale he enabled us to wonder at the subtlety of Mendelssohn’s orchestration, using a full orchestra [BBC Symphony Orchestra] with grace and transparency. The grand ending was remarkably effective."

Bachtrack - April 2021

“Chauhan is a fine Mendelssohn interpreter, balancing energy with elegance, keenly alert to the music’s understated drama and mercurial changes of mood. So the refined melancholy and turbulence of the Symphony’s opening contrasted with the brilliance of the scherzo, while the warmth of the Adagio offset the assertion of the finale with its grand, exultant coda. Chauhan kept the textures clean and clear, and there was some wonderfully focused playing, above all from the BBCSO woodwind.”

The Guardian - April 2021
 

2020

 

I have never heard a more vivid, engaging account of Brahms' Academic Festival Overture than this, well-paced, onward driven, and with a wonderful web of sound far more transparent than Brahms could ever have hoped for from the clod-hopping orchestras of his own times..[...]..Certainly the CBSO's account here of Mendelssohn's First Symphony under Chauhan was again well-balanced in texture, lyrical and flowing (as one would expect from this cellist conductor), subtle and dramatic by turns. There are rumours of musical chairs: Rattle going to Bavaria, Mirga replacing him at the LSO (heaven knows why she would want that poisoned chalice with no decent home), and someone needed to fill the vacancy here. Should such a chain of events happen, tonight's concert threw up the perfect candidate."

Midlands Music Reviews - December 2020

“[Birmingham Opera Company’s] whole point is to upend traditional assumptions about opera. The big difference in its production last year of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk came from the orchestra [City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra]. Chauhan drove Shostakovich’s score with a brooding, purposeful intensity that felt as though you’d been caught in a riptide and dragged under…‘At Birmingham Opera Company diversity is the norm. It’s just what Birmingham looks like..[...]..More significant, surely, is the fact that — as one commentator on Lebrecht’s blog put it — Chauhan ‘is just very, very good’. That’s no accident, either: he spent his twenties laying the groundwork of a highly individual symphonic career. He served as assistant conductor at the CBSO, conducted opera in Sardinia and Spain, and has just come to the end of a stint as music director of the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini [La Toscanini] in Parma; a small but spirited Italian orchestra whose players blossomed audibly when Chauhan offered them a respite from endless Verdi and Rossini..[...]..It’s early days yet, but when we talk of a future in which classical music is more responsive to its community, less addicted to short-term sensation — in a word, more meaningful — Chauhan might be among those who can show us the way."

The Spectator, August 2020

"[An] absolute masterpiece, "Metamorphosen", is like a long, uninterrupted mourning where the twenty-three instruments move interwoven, driven by a certain restlessness that the other evening Chauhan regulated with sensitive control in order to enable each voice - all commendably [performed] by our musicians - to be [an active] participant, in the more subtle timbres and at the same time in the cohesion of the overall tone, of this intense monologue.....[In “The Firebird”], the youthful genius of Stravinsky composes [by] drawing from the palette of Rimsky-Korsakov, from those fabulous polishes and from insinuating melodic tenderness to trigger a fantastic game of irresistible grip and exciting virtuosity that the baton of Chauhan - already seen in the past with "Petrushka" - happily spirited [the] sealing of the beautiful evening."

Gazzetta di Parma - February 2020

 

“Although the Toscanini Philharmonic has accustomed us to high-level performances, especially when its Principal Conductor Alpesh Chauhan is on the podium, yesterday's concert at the [Auditorium] Paganini is one of the most memorable ones.....I have listened to this work, often in the version reduced to suite, with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel. I venture to say that the performance conducted by Chauhan last night involved me no less than the most authoritative and historic [performances].....The Filarmonica [Toscanini] has rarely been heard playing with so much transparency and accuracy of sound and with such a balanced equilibrium between the sections: an orchestra at times lugubrious, mysterious, poignant, festive, capable of passing from magical enchanted atmospheres to [moments] where the music beat with the strength of a whip”

la Repubblica Parma - February 2020

 

2019

"On what has now happily become one of his regular visits to Glasgow, and to conduct the BBC Scottish, young Alpesh Chauhan was working with a programme that was right up his street. Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem is a work he paired with Brahms’ German Requiem for one of his first concerts with the orchestra he directs in Parma, Italy, and the selection of movements from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet was the one he himself had made to conduct the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland … Chauhan’s hour-long pick of the Prokofiev is successful both as musical and dramatic narrative, and the players put a terrific ferocity into the Dance of the Knights. The thought occurred that just as the conductor’s career is moving at pace, a young violinist now playing professionally here could well have performed it with the youth orchestra just three and half years ago.”

The Herald (****) - December 2019

 

" ... Chauhan gets to the heart of this complex and tormented work [Beethoven Symphony No.9] while also transmitting the homogeneity and transparency of the musical texture. This is evident in the control of the dynamics, especially in the “pianissimo” section at the beginning with the sottovoce theme of the violins; a primary element that will then be amplified until the tumultuous crescendo “

Gazzetta di Parma - November 2019

“The great talent of this conductor and his ability to lead the orchestra has already been said many times. It only remains to be said that with each time Chauhan never ceases to amaze and one forgets that he is only 29 years old.

One striking thing of Alpesh Chauhan's vitality is his generous, dynamic and sympathetic gesture, capable of shaping the timbric material of the orchestra he has in front of him, returning a quick response in sound but measured and respectful of the score placed on the stand.”

Magazine Pragma - October 2019

 

"Chauhan's interpretative conception was characterised by the wide range of expression, the marked dynamic contrasts, the high emotional tension, as well as his emphatic directorial gesture."

GBOPERA Magazine - October 2019

 

"It is the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony that everyone knows from its screen soundtrack use, but the heart of its hour-and-a-quarter is the long central Scherzo. In a work resplendent in orchestral colour, it is sparklingly adorned and Chauhan made sure it really shone here ... The ensemble sound of the cellos, guest-led by Alice Neary, was particularly impressive. The fact that it is also Chauhan’s instrument may be no coincidence."

The Herald (****) - September 2019

"Who could deny Alpesh Chauhan the respect he deserves, standing in at short notice for the indisposed Thomas Dausgaard to conduct a live broadcast BBC SSO season opener dominated by Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Touching 30, and displaying both the swagger of youth and a cool-headedness born of experience, his authority was impressive ... Reaching that cathartic point in the Mahler is, of course, a long and winding road. Chauhan’s view of that journey was relentless and representative of its extremes and excesses, perfectly legitimate in a symphony that wrestles furiously with light over darkness, repose over rage."

The Scotsman - September 2019

 

"A couple of things should be emphasized. The first is that the Director the Filarmonica Toscanini has reached new levels of unity, balance between the various sections, expressiveness, beauty of sound and even instrumental virtuosity (how wonderful the strings were last night in Prokofiev!) that were perhaps unthinkable before."

la Repubblica Parma - May 2019

 

“But the strongest impact of all came from the musical values of this presentation. Alpesh Chauhan conducted a searing, biting CBSO with an adept feel for the pacing of the drama, underlying all the tension, bringing irony to the folky passages and, thanks to excellent CCTV coverage, drawing from the singers a quite astounding perfection of ensemble secured at such distances.”

Opera Magazine - April 2019

 

"the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (boosted by an onstage brass band of Birmingham students) [gave] a magnificently taut and sometimes terrifying account of the score directed by the superb Alpesh Chauhan. With soloists sometimes singing 40m from the conductor, there’s not a moment of dodgy ensemble all night — a miracle of rapport.”

The Times (*****) - March 2019

 

"The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra are on the largest platform, their playing perfectly judged regarding balance with the voices ... [Alpesh Chauhan] does an excellent job, invigorating the score and holding his widely spaced forces together via TV screens.”

The Guardian (*****) - March 2019

 

“All praise, on that note, to the conductor Alpesh Chauhan and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for providing firm anchorage, as well as thrilling exuberance, in what cannot be the easiest of environments.”

The Telegraph (****) - March 2019

 

“… under Alpesh Chauhan, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra swung between the circus-band screeches and oily pianissimos of Shostakovich’s score with the muscular grace of a Soviet gymnast … Every sterile, faddish debate in contemporary opera is confronted, answered and impatiently thrown aside. Singing in English? Obviously. Surtitles? Unnecessary. Diverse casting? Been doing it for years. New audiences? Look around you. Critics can bicker, but meanwhile BOC has a show to put on.”

The Spectator - March 2019

 

"Lady Macbeth, BOC’s 50th production, is perhaps its most brilliant so far, praise in itself given the company’s impressive track record … Relishing the music’s lurid and caressing colours, and on rigorous form, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra … The conductor Alpesh Chauhan, Birmingham-born and nurtured but with a fast-growing international reputation"

Observer (*****) - March 2019

 

“The full City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra [is] conducted by brilliant young Brum-born Alpesh Chauhan … [Chauhan wins] expressive beauties and the genuine pianissimos from the CBSO.”

The Arts Desk (*****) - March 2019

 

"Above the dance floor, members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra sit behind glowing music stands, wringing out the rage and the lyricism in Shostakovich’s mercurial score. Calm and unhurried, conductor Alpesh Chauhan manages to keep them in touch with the singers even when they’re at the far end of the room.”

The Stage (*****) - March 2019

 

“… native Birminghamster Alpesh Chauhan ... marshalled his huge and far-flung forces, including a stage band drawn from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students, with impressive sang-froid and thrilling musical results"

The Sunday Times - March 2019

 

"… the strongest impact of all comes from the sheer musical values of this presentation. Alpesh Chauhan conducts a searing, biting CBSO with an adept feel for pacing of the drama, underlining all the tension, bringing irony to the folky passages, and, thanks to excellent CCTV coverage, drawing from the singers a quite astounding perfection of ensemble secured at such distances."

Midlands Music Reviews - March 2019

 

"Excellent playing by the Orchestra del Teatro, directed with great personality by Alpesh Chauhan and an authentic tsunami of youth in all the talented performers..."

Gazzettino Sampierdarenese - January 2019