REVIEW: Carols with Brighton Philharmonic

THE SOUNDS of Christmas came early for fans of the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra when Barry Wordsworth conducted the musicians through a programme sprinkled with the spirit of the season at Sunday’s Dome concert (November 21).

As a bonus the audience heard the world premier of “Four American Carols” by Richard Rodney Bennett; quite a change of mood for a man best known for film scores that include Murder on the Orient Express.

In these pieces the charm and precision of the soaring Brighton Festival Youth Choir added an extra dimension, especially in the spiritual-sounding A Child of God.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

This was beautifully launched upon the world with a fine solo from Rebecca Leggett, 14, from Chailey School showing composure and control of tone beyond her years, who deserved a round of applause of her own for this confidently handled but no doubt nerve-wracking moment.

Especially with the composer, 75 next year, in the audience.

The choir also showed plenty of confidence in Benjamin Britten’s pleasant though undistinquished four carols from A Ceremony Of Carols, including some much-needed zest in Deo Gracias.

The first half was much like that, gentle but uninspired, Corelli’s Grosso Op 6 (Christmas Concerto) well handled and like Corelli in his writing not wasting a note. If only all composers revised their work so well.

Vaughan Williams’s variants of Dives and Lazarus, with some beautiful lyrical sweeps, paved the way for even better treats.

The orchestra wisely devoted the entire second-half to Dvorak’s sparkling and uplifting Serenade for Strings – none of the other pieces would have fitted with this.

The arrangement of the stripped-down orchestra, with the six double basses strung out at the back, brought out the excellent playing of the cellos, by design or accident.

So it was right they were the powerhouse behind an exhilarating closing allegro vivace that ensured everyone left with a spring in their step.