REVIEW: Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra pays homage to Benjamin Britten

THE excellent Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra paid homage to youth and their one-time president Benjamin Britten in a hugely enjoyable concert at the Dome on Sunday (January 15).

With the centenary of Britten’s birth certain to inspire many a concert next year, the BPO decided to get in first with the latest offering in their 87th season.

Three varied pieces by Britten were supplemented by Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, played with youthful charm by two members of the world famous Yehudi Menuhin School, violinist Anna Lee and viola player Nazli Erdogan.

Lee, clearly a gifted Korean 17-year-old, played with effortless skill and necessary detachment, while the Turkish-born Erdogan, two years her senior, seemed a little more self conscious.

The average age of the Dome faithful must have dropped significantly thanks to plenty of youngsters in the audience, who may have initially been drawn by The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, despite a deliberate decision to go without the narration, but who seemed to enjoy equally the evocative Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes and the much more lively and joyful Matinees Musicales.

It was a wonderful combination and showed the orchestra in all its facets. It was unusual to see the celeste on stage and also seven percussionists for the final piece.

The season continues on Sunday, January 29, when Royal Opera House concert-master Vasko Vassilev will show his virtuosa violin skills in two pieces by the Spanish-born Sarasate (Gypsy Airs and Carmen Fantasy) and there will also be Rossini’s famous Overture William Tell and the music of Arthur Sullivan arranged for the ballet Pineapple Poll by Sir Charles Mackerras.

Chris Francis