The acclaimed Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra always steal a march on the famous New Year’s Day concert from Vienna by putting on their traditional New Year’s Eve Viennese Gala at the Dome and this year they added their own special twist to proceedings by including a handful of less performed pieces.
Maintaining the homage to the Strauss dynasty but offering something perhaps not heard too often, or indeed at all, by many in the audience was Romance for Cello and Orchestra No 1 by Johann Strauss II.
The delightful piece, done full justice by BPO principal cello Peter Adams and admirably supported by Deian Rowlands on the harp, was one of the memorable highlights of a programme that included many of the traditional favourites expected and demanded at a Viennese Gala.
The same composer was heavily represented with such classic pieces as the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka and the Champagne Polka but there were a few other less often heard offerings, including the Enjoy Your Life Waltz and Heia! Heia! In den Bergen from Emmerich Kalman’s 1915 The Gypsy Princess.
Performing the latter was accomplished Portuguese soprano Susana Gaspar, whose rousing rendition of the Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus brought one of the most enthusiastic responses from the festive audience.
Jovial host and guest conductor was Stephen Bell, who certainly needs no introduction to the BPO faithful and gave his usual masterly lead to send everyone home happy and no doubt looking forward to new year and that other big concert televised around the world from the Golden Hall at the Musicverein in Vienna.
Dome regulars do not have long to wait for the BPO’s next offering as on Sunday January 11 Andrew Gourlay takes over the baton for a somewhat unusual 90th season concert, featuring just two works. But what works they are with Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 1 being performed by Martin Roscoe and the second half comprising Beethoven’s Symphony No 7.