REVIEW: Vasko Vassiley with the Brighton Philharmonic

VIOLIN virtuoso Vasko Vassilev had the Dome faithful in raptures with his rendition of two Sarasate showpiece numbers on Sunday.

In the second Brighton Philharmonic concert of the new year the one-time child prodigy, born in Sofia in 1970, showed his natural flair with breathtaking performances of the well known Gypsy Airs and the Carmen Fantasy by a virtuoso of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Conductor Barry Wordsworth no doubt called on his Covent Garden connections to lure Vassilev back to Sussex, even though he is now partly based in China.

Wordsworth is musical director of the Royal Ballet, while the Bulgarian supremo is concert master at the Royal Opera House.

The two pieces of violin showmanship somewhat overshadowed the main theme of the concert, which was formulated as a tribute to the late, great Charles Mackerras.

It was his arrangement of Arthur Sullivan’s music for the 1951 opera Pineapple Poll that first brought the leading conductor and Mozartian to prominence and formed the second half of the concert.

There had been the liveliest of starts with Rossini’s overture William Tell and the pace never slackened throughout.

Next up in the 87th Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra season on Sunday, February 12, it will be another virtuoso, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden, who takes centre stage in a concert with a distinctly Spanish feel, featuring Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and Chabrier’s Espana amongst others.

Review by Chris Francis