Brighton Festival Lunchtime Concerts 2023 – Preview

There’s plenty of excellent Classical music to enjoy during this year’s Brighton Festival but you’ll have to search it out. The Lunchtime Concerts are a mini-festival on their own, tucked away at the end of the Festival brochure, and for the first week they are consigned to the grand acoustics of All Saints Church, Hove, far from any bus stop or ready parking. However, it’ll be well worth the trek.

The Londinium Consort opens proceedings on 9 May at 1 o’clock in All Saints Church. They are an international selection of musicians from the leading London conservatoires with a programme mainly of early music, including songs by Dowland and Monteverdi, but they will also turn their lute, viols and recorder to a new work dedicated to them. Later, at 7.30pm, the recorder player Otto Hashmi will join saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings in an electronic jazz and Japanese shakuhachi concoction, ‘music without boundaries’.

The following day (10 May) features Yuanfan Yang, a Scottish pianist and composer playing one of his own award-winning works ‘Waves’ alongside some Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Bartók. His international career is already well-established so this is our lucky opportunity to hear him in Brighton.

On 11 May cellist Meera Priyanka Raja and pianist Dominic Doutney play music by Fanny Mendelssohn, a youthful work by Brahms and John Mayer’s Prabhanda, a sprightly piece with an exciting Indian flavour.

Australian pianist Jonathan Ferrucci (12 May) plays Bach Toccatas and evocative early 20th century works by Janáček, Lili Boulanger and Albeniz.

On 16 May the venue changes to the Dome Concert Hall where the Paris-based Quatuor Agate will give us two contrasting works. A new work, ‘The Disappearance of Lisa Gherardini’ is a witty addition to the String Quartet repertoire from the Sri Lankan-born Canadian Dinuk Wijeratne. It refers to the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, that has false associations with Apollinaire, Picasso and Kafka. The other work is Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet, one of the most popular works in the concert repertoire. I’m looking forward to an interesting interpretation.

Paddington Trio will be playing Haydn and Brahms in the Theatre Royal at lunchtime on 22 May but the significant point of interest is the world premiere of Diana Burrell’s trio ‘Frieze’ that should have featured in the 2020 International Spring Orchestra Festival in Valletta, but was scuppered by Covid. However, the Ameraldi Piano Trio have already posted a recording on YouTube so I can tell you that this intriguing work will likely sound even better in live performance.

Also in the Theatre Royal, on 23 May the Glyndebourne’s Jerwood Young Singers will enchant us with their best audition numbers and favourite opera excerpts. This year we have been told the names of the singers in advance, all lower voices: a mezzo, a bass-baritone and a bass. This event is always wonderful because Glyndebourne has a canny skill at discovering superb talent.

Irène Duval (violin) and Angus Webster (piano) come to the Dome Concert Hall on 25 May. Works by Reynaldo Hahn, Brahms, Josef Suk and Fauré will make an interesting programme but I am ashamed to admit I had not heard of Charlotte Sohy, a French composer of the first half of the 20th century who was associated with ‘Les Six’. Her Thème varié dedicated to Nadia Boulanger is just lovely.

I will be having sandwiches and a soft drink again for lunch this May because I’ll want to be alert for all this fine music, and as usual, I can’t wait!

Andrew Connal
March 2023

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