REVIEW: Brighton Philharmonic and piano soloist Alexei Grynyuk

THERE can be no such thing as a perfect concert.

Yet the Brighton Philharmonic and piano soloist Alexei Grynyuk came as close as I have seen and heard to one at the Brighton Dome on Saturday evening (November 15).

Barely had the last notes died from the double basses at the end of the performance than firecrackers of applause exploded across the expanses of the hall.

Magnificently conducting the orchestra's majestic performance of Tchaikovsky's emotional Pathetique Symphony, Stephen Bell had milked the closing notes for all he was worth.

He stood seemingly frozen on the spot and waiting for the last embers to die on a concert that was indeed full of fire and passion, combined with elegance and precision.

The storm of applause that resounded had only been equalled at the end of the first half when soloist Grynyuk, who had to use a walking stick to reach the piano, was called back several times in appreciation of a spell-binding performance of my all-time favourite piece of classical music, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5 in E Flat, the "Emperor"

I happen to believe, and I am sure thousands will disagree, that the Emperor is the perfect combination of music for orchestra and piano, giving both a wonderful platform.

Bell managed to be both passionate and suitably restrained when needed while making sure that Grynyuk and the orchestra both made the best of their many opportunities to shine, which both did emphatically.

Grynyuk so obviously cared for this music, but he avoided the mistake that some pianists make of being too showy under the guise of passion at the expense of accuracy.

His opening allegro was so full of grace and power that I could sense the audience wanted to break with convention and burst into applause, which the woodwind and brass would have deserved too for their part not only in this piece but the whole evening.

Grynyuk produced fireworks of his own from his fingertips in the faster passages, but also displayed his sensitive control of the slower moments.

The orchestra brilliantly portrayed the shades of light and dark that permeate both the Emperor and the Pathetique, and though it seems churlish to mention individuals in such a splendid overall performance, the bassoons of Dick Skinner and Sarah Price were certainly stars along with the clarinet of Wilf Goddard.

I have no idea if the Brighton Phil has ever played better than this, because I have not attended all their concerts, but if they did, they must have been awesome.

This concert was surely one to file away in the memory locker of great musical nights out with the Phil.

The next concert in the series comes when the orchestra return to their usual Sunday afternoon slot this weekend (November 23) when Melvyn Tan is the soloist for Chopin's Piano Concerto No 2 in F Minor.

Tchaikovsky's surprisingly little-known Symphony No 3 in D ('The Polish') and two dances from Syzmanowski's Harnasie complete the programme.

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