Review: ‘Delightful’ whistlestop tour of Great Britain by Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra at the Dome

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Concert-goers at the Dome on Sunday (December 7) could be forgiven for leaving somewhat breathless after a whistlestop tour of Great Britain led by the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Richard Balcombe.

It was a truly delightful choice of programme and with Felix Mendelssohn’s evocative Fingal’s Cave the only piece not written by someone born in these isles, it was patriotic concert in the run-up to Christmas.

The versatile Balcombe, who is a prolific orchestrator and arranger as well as conducting operas and directing some of the West End’s top musicals (including Phantom of the Opera), was an excellent front man with his easily delivered introductions to most of the iconic pieces.

John Bradbury provided the highlight with another excellent performance of Vaughan Williams’ hugely popular Lark Ascending. The BPO’s experienced leader should be highly commended on a wonderfully still rendition where he let the music do the talking.

The programme also included visits to Shropshire (Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad), Scotland (Hamish MacCunn’s Land of the Mountain and the Flood, popularised as the theme music to Sutherland’s Law), Cornwall (Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance Overture and Sir Malcolm Arnold’ s Four Cornish Dances), Norfolk (Vaughan Williams’ Norfolk Rhapsody) and finally London (Coates’ London Suite which includes the Knightsbridge March made famous as the signature tune to In Town Tonight).

Such a glorious tribute to British music must have sent everyone home with a spring in their step and no doubt looking forward even more eagerly to the BPO’s last offering of 2014, the traditional New Year’s Eve Viennese Concert featuring another consummate front man in conductor Stephen Bell and also soprano Susana Gaspar.