There was a first for the traditional New Year’s Eve Viennese concert at the Dome when the Brighton Philharmonic’s music director Barry Wordsworth took the baton.
Wordsworth admitted this was the first time during his 25-year tenure as principal conductor that he had led the seasonal festivities and it was a significant gesture to see out a momentous 12 months in the orchestra’s 89-year history.
It was only with the support of the Dome faithful and various businesses and individual benefactors that the orchestra survived and while Wordsowrth said the future is still not guaranteed, he was hopeful there would be another such concert to see out 2014.
Wordsworth chose some of his favourite pieces, opening both halves with von Suppe romps and including the usual classic contributions from the Strauss dynasty as well as Lehar, Dvorak and Gounod.
Wordsworth and the accomplished musicians who make up the BPO under leader John Bradbury were offered outstanding support by guest soprano Susana Gaspar. The young Portuguese singer provided powerful and superbly rich renditions of Dvorak’s Song to the moon, Lehar’s Vilja and On my lips every kiss is like wine, and Je veux vivra from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet.
Even before a welcome encore she was already established as a firm favourite of the Dome audience and will be a most welcome visitor at any time in the future, which we must all hope is long standing for such a valued part of the local musical scene.
Next concert in the shortened season is on Sunday January 12 and promises to be another popular choice of programme, featuring Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Slavonic Dances, together with Beethoven’s not often heard Piano Concerto No 6 played by Andrejs Osokins.