REVIEW: A breathtaking Brahms double-bill at Brighton Dome

Conductor James Morgan

Conductor James Morgan

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Brighton Philharmonic & Festival Chorus, Brighton Dome, November 6

With around 200 musicians on stage and in the choir stalls, the sheer force of the Brighton Philharmonic and the Brighton Festival Chorus combined was an impressive sight as you entered the Dome Concert Hall.

The repertoire was a double-bill of Brahms, opening with ‘Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny)’ before the star attraction ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem’ after the interval. The Requiem was last performed by the BPO and the BFC in 1972, which is unsurprising as this mammoth work can last up to 80 minutes.

In a novel approach to leading the concert, conductor James Morgan gave an engaging insight into the pieces before they were performed, including using musical extracts to demonstrate some of his favourite sections from the Requiem. These markers were very useful and I certainly hope this approach will be considered for future concerts, as I believe it would really help to engage with both younger and more experienced audiences.

The Requiem was quite a challenging piece for both audience and orchestra alike. It featured seven long sections, often with particular instruments omitted for minutes at a time. The soloists roles were rather minor parts in this gargantuan work but at least they had great seats to listen to the rest of it from, sat either side of the conductor’s podium.

The ensemble gave a tremendous performance, filling the auditorium right to the back with Brahms’ stunning music, showing an impressively tenacious control over two of the composer’s finest and most daunting works.

Visit www.brightonphil.org.uk.

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