Review - Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra

For music director Barry Wordsworth’s last appearance of 2012 with the Brighton Philharmonic, clearly he had decided to bow out on a high note.

The accomplished Wordsworth was due to miss the last three concerts of the year and no doubt he could do with the rest after a suitably energetic interpretation of Sibelius No 5 that spanned the second half of an enjoyable offering in the first of the two Sunday concerts arranged in November. This concert also included Verdi’s Force of Destiny and Mozart’s somewhat complex emotional mix that is Piano Concerto No 23.

Despite both the first half pieces making quite an impression, the tribute to Verdi’s bicentenary being a bit of a pot-pourri but still instantly recognisable and hugely enjoyable, it was the more heavyweight Sibelius that probably created the lasting impression.

Wordsworth spared no energy in his rendering of what he described in his programme notes as life affirming music and it was clear for all to see the regard in which he holds this particular piece.

It was young but nonetheless experienced piano virtuoso Richard Uttley who was entrusted with the master’s concerto in A that contrasts the lively 1st and 3rd movements with a slow 2nd movement that Uttley interpreted with great sensitivity.

It took some brass to put on this programme, with the Verdi and Sibelius featuring prominently that section of the orchestra.

The following two concerts feature the piano and on Sunday the first of those brought acclaimed piano virtuoso Howard Shelley back to the Dome, where he also conducted the BPO.

Shelley is in his 42nd year as a soloist and brought all his vast experience to bear on interpreting Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4, that is full of surprises - and all of them pleasant!

The master’s piece, written as he battled the onset of deafness, was sandwiched between the highly entertaining Weber’s Jubilee Overture and Brahms’ mighty Symphony No 1.

The 88th concert season programme is crammed full of excellent music although it is the slightly lesser known names who take centre stage in the next concert on December 9, when Martin Yates takes over the baton and Victor Sangiorgio is the soloist for Ireland’s Piano Concerto. Also on offer are Warlock’s Capriol Suite, Butterworth’s Two English Idylls and Moeran’s Symphony No 2.

Chris Francis