Cathedral Concert: Festival of Chichester welcomes return of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - this is what they played and why it was so special

There could be no better way to mark the tenth anniversary of the Festival of Chichester than this heady mix of Elgar, Tchaikovsky, and an aperitif of Beethoven at Chichester Cathedral.
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Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are old friends of the Festival, so what a joy to welcome them back for a year made even more special in the context of the covid vagaries of the previous two.

Beethoven’s overture set the scene splendidly before Elgar’s Cello C oncerto – written in Sussex at Brinkwells Cottage – held a packed cathedral audience spellbound.

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This was a personal triumph for cello soloist Leonard Elschenbroich, who has performed with the world’s leading orchestras.

Leonard ElschenbroichLeonard Elschenbroich
Leonard Elschenbroich

What an extraordinary talent he is.

This is a complex piece to play capturing as it does a darkness and sadness which requires the most sensitive of translation.

Then it was Tchaikovsky for the second half – a huge self-indulgent slice of arguably his finest symphony – No 6 ‘Pathetique’.

But the importance of this event is not merely the music – magnificent though it was.

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The cathedral concert gives form and potency to this entire annual festival like the central jewel in a crown.

Since the loss of the Chichester Festivities more than a decade ago, year after year – despite the rude interruptions of the pandemic – the community has built a festival that just gets better and better.

No wonder this was a very strong overall comeback festival with large attendances and a number of sellouts – a huge effort in which the Chichester Observer and its arts editor Phil Hewitt are proud to play their part.