Ballet Press Reviews
Birmingham Royal Ballet Sinfonia at Birmingham Hippodrome *****
Birmingham is so blessed, having two great orchestras, and both of them within days of each other delivering wonderful accounts of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.
I was impressed with the CBSO's symphonic reading under Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, but tonight in a packed and rapt Birmingham Hippodrome I was equally impressed with the freshness and joy of the playing of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, halfway through a season's run of this enchanting production of the ballet, but performing with no sense of routine staleness.
Philip Ellis was conducting on this occasion, and somehow he made the string complement sound more richly-cushioned than the numbers in the line-up implied. Woodwind solos were lively and eloquent, horns effortlessly noble in the magical Waltz of the Flowers, and there was a tambourine-playing tour de force in the Trepak.
And this orchestra and its conductors are able to create something symphony orchestras would struggle to do: there was a flexibility of phrasing here, allied to the expressive movements going on up aloft onstage. The players could see nothing, but they could feel the ebb and flow, channelled through the modest but so crucial baton of Philip Ellis.
Ballet without a live orchestra loses a huge dimension. I don't want to hear anything with canned sound. This was an experience which all of us present will never forget.
BRB – Nutcracker - Allen Robertson
“Philip Ellis is turning out to be one of the best things to happen to any ballet company in a long time. His rapport with both the dancers and the music has a gracious flexibility that helps to send Wright's choreography soaring.”
BRB – Turin – Fille mal Gardee – Alastair Macaulay
“above all, I praise the company’s young conductor Philip Ellis. Each time I hear him, I think he is the best thing to have happened to British ballet since the late Ashley Lawrence. He shapes the music of such minor composers as Auber, Hérold and Minkus with the brio, love and finesse it deserves; he lends sparkle to otherwise weak dancers; and to precise dancers he gives stimulus and power. Playing under him, the orchestra of Turin’s Teatro Reggio gave the score unusual elegance and wit.”
BRB Stravinsky Triple Bill (Sym in 3 Movmts/Agon/Violin Concerto) – Luke Jennings
“More Balanchine, in Birmingham, where David Bintley presented an all-Stravinsky programme. Peerlessly danced, wonderfully played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Philip Ellis, this is one of the most sophisticated evenings of dance I have ever attended.”
Serenade/Enigma Variations/Penguin Cafe
"This triple bill, titled Pomp and Circumstances, was brilliantly danced by the company, with the music beautifully played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the baton of Philip Ellis, who showed great sympathy to both music and dancers."
BRB Stravinsky Triple Bill (Sym in 3 Movmts/Agon/Violin Concerto) – David Mead,
14th Feb 2007
“the good news is that they once again showed what good form they are in at the moment, in an excellent demonstration of athletic, modernist, energetic, playful and intensely musical dance. And let’s not forget the important part also played by the ever-excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Philip Ellis.”
BRB Stravinsky Triple Bill (Sym in 3 Movmts/Agon/Violin Concerto) – Judith Mackrell
19th Feb 2007
“But the ultimate star of this triple bill is the Royal Ballet Sinfonia who, under conductor Philip Ellis, honour every note Stravinsky wrote.”
Royal Ballet – Covent Garden – Romeo – Clement Crisp
“Philip Ellis, the first rate young maestro from the Birmingham Royal ballet, is something more. He shapes every incident with distinction. One hopes to hear him lead a full-length Tchaikovsky at Covent Garden before long.”
Polish National Ballet –La Bayadere – Teresa Grabowska
“Minkus’ music was presented with great verve and precision, by British conductor Philip Ellis together with the National Opera Orchestra.”