Review: ‘The very best classical music has to offer’ from the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra

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The only pity was that more people were not present to enjoy a wonderful concert of the very best classical music has to offer when the acclaimed Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra presented their latest offering in the 90th concert season.

Under guest conductor Thomas Carroll and guest leader John Mills it could hardly have been a programme of greater impact, featuring the peerless Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his majestic contemporary Joseph Haydn, as well as the sublimely gifted Franz Schubert, born 12 years before Haydn’s demise and six years before the early death at 35 of Mozart, who, in fact lived four years longer.

Why there were any empty seats at all with the prospect of such a heady mix defies reasonable explanation but it has to be said that the Dome Sunday afternoon concert season is largely patronised by the more senior in our midst and early February, despite almost spring-like weather after some bitter winds of previous days, is hardly likely to be a time when many of that age group are particularly encouraged to venture far from home.

Clearly it means the word needs to be spread to a wider audience and surely such marvellous live music can be no greater advert.

Carroll brought the best out of the BPO with his tight control and there was an effortless performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 27 by Anthony Hewitt, one of Britain’s finest pianists. This work, first performed in the same year as Mozart’s death, does not allow for any flights of fancy as the composer seems resigned to his fate and “every stirring of energy is rejected or suppressed.”

Nonetheless it is a majestic piece of writing and almost matched by the efforts of Papa Haydn in his Symphony No 83 (La Poule) and Schubert’s Symphony No 5.

If you now feel just a little sorry to have missed such a superb concert, at least the next one coming up offers jewels of almost comparable value. This time another revered British conductor, Stephen Bell, takes the baton as fearless young violin virtuoso Tamsin Waley-Cohen tackles Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 sandwiched between Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Sibelius’ Symphony No 1.

Chris Francis