Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth (conductor)

The 2018-19 concert season began brilliantly with Shostakovich’s ‘Festive Overture’, all fanfares and exhilarating passage-work to get the pulse racing, ready for the great ceremonial acclamation of Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’, which brought in the 100+ voices of the Brighton Festival Chorus, celebrating 50 years of singing together.

This exuberant atmosphere changed abruptly with the sombre opening of Parry’s ‘From Death to Life’, a majestic work that was commissioned for the Brighton Musical Festival 1914. Its deeply tragic first part, subtitled ‘Lament’ at its first performance, expresses Parry’s despair at the desolation of the Great War. The music, however, continues with ‘Consolation’ that builds to an uplifting climax. This sense of elation was taken to a higher level in Elgar’s anthem ‘Great is the Lord’ (1912), a work that would have taxed a chorus four times larger. The BFC’s musicality and precise diction projected clearly through the full orchestral textures.

The second half of the concert was all wonderful Elgar, his showpiece overture Cockaigne (in London Town), the coronation anthem ‘O Hearken Thou’ and ‘Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands’, which again presented the BFC’s focussed discipline and musical virtuosity, like the orchestra, responsive to every subtle gesture from the maestro.

Dome Concert Hall, 14 October 2018
Rating: ★★★★★
Andrew Connal

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