Frederik Hanssen, Der Tagesspiegel, 23rd October 2021

“There is a pleasant atmosphere of mindfulness and respect in the Konzerthaus on Friday. The naturalness with which Michael Francis shares the applause with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin after each piece, with which he appreciates the achievements of the soloists and the vocal groups, and the way in which the musicians thank the conductor by tapping the bows on the music stands, all of this shows that music is being made here in mutual friendship.

And of course you can hear it too. Maurice Ravel’s impressionistic fairy tale suite “Me mère l’oye” sounds elegant and smooth from the first bar, the instrumental colors mix delicately, the woodwind solos (English horn!) seem wonderfully out of the musical flow. The exotic episode of the Empress of the Pagodas is flooded with clear light, while fine, silvery veils of mist hover over the fairy garden…

Edward Elgar demonstrated how personal program music can sound in 1898 in his “Enigma” variations: by portraying 13 people who were close to him in tones. Michael Francis interprets the theme from which the 30-minute orchestral piece develops, less gloomy and tragic than usual. With him it breathes only a slight melancholy, which then turns into passion in the first variation dedicated to the composer’s wife. British humor flashes again and again when Michael Francis and the responsive RSB trace the acoustic character images, also as loving caricatures.”