Dome Review: Final concert of Brighton Philharmonic’s 89th season

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There were plenty of good reasons to celebrate the final concert of the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra’s 89th season on Sunday, which marked the 200th appearance of principal conductor Barry Wordsworth.

Wordsworth is only the third musical director in the BPO’s lengthy history and this is his 25th year in the position. It could hardly have been a more testing season with the orchestra’s immediate future in grave doubt but Wordsworth has done much to help secure its continuation and was delighted to announce the receipt of three major bequests which he explained the board plan to put into an emergency fund to safeguard against a repeat of events that so seriously threatened the current season.

Wordsworth and all the principal players have stepped up to the plate by giving full commitment and participation this season and the musical director was at the helm for all eight concerts. Other engagements will curtail his appearances when the 90th season opens in October but with the immediate future secured, the Dome faithful can look forward to some accomplished guest conductors.

After sticking largely to tried and tested programming this time around, the final concert offered an interesting mix although there was no experimenting with the final piece as the whole of the second half was turned over to Brahms’ incomparable Symphony No 4.

The first half provided the contrasts with the evocative Frank Bridge suite for orchestra, The Sea, opening proceedings and then tricky Lowell Liebermann’s Piano Concerto No 1 being expertly delivered by Robert Clark. Both are 20th century pieces but coming from the beginning and end.

It all made for an interesting finale and should have left the Dome faithful eagerly awaiting the start of the new season, which will feature Wordsworth and the orchestra joined by pianist Natasha Paremski in an all-Russian programme on October 5.

Chris Francis