Two attempted suicides might not at first thought promise an enjoyable afternoon of music.
Yet the troubles of Brahms and Beethoven instead inspired them and gave an on-form Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra a platform on Sunday at the Dome to consistently show their ability in a well-received performance of two major pieces by the composers.
Brahms poured his soul into the hugely-challenging Piano Concerto Number 1 after the despair of his
friend Schumann trying to take his own life. Soloist Martin Roscoe avoided the theatrics of a “heart
of sleeve” interpretation by showing restraint and sensitivity, especially in the meditative adagio.
The orchestra was a willing accomplice in helping portray moments of pathos and contemplation
without being cloying, yet, like Roscoe, showed plenty of vigour when required and brought the
piece to a triumphant end.
Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony was taken a fair pace, yet conductor Andrew Gourlay ensured the
orchestra milked every facet of this fascinating piece, not least its infectious Presto theme.
Beethoven had the attempted suicide of his nephew at the back of his mind as he scribbled his
scores, but the orchestra ensured there was plenty of light and optimism and it captured the beauty
of the slower opening bars immaculately. Throughout both pieces timpani and woodwind were outstanding and there was beautiful flute playing and strong punctuation by the trumpets.
Having two major pieces as the sole attractions asked quite a bit of the audience as well as the
orchestra but it was well worth the effort.