Rave reviews for Brighton Phil’s season finale (Sun 17 March)

Rave reviews are already appearing for the Brighton Phil’s season finale at Brighton Dome on Sunday 17 March. A selection of those which are available online are gathered below:

Writing for Lark Reviews Susan Elkin declared of Rachmaninov’s piano concerto “Stephen Osborne scaled the heights of this pianistic Everest with understated panache, terrific control, plenty of drama and admirable stamina considering that it is a 40 minute piece and the piano part, with its frequent changes of mood and mode, barely pauses for breath.” and “Barry Wordsworth and the orchestra really rose to the challenge too. So much of the orchestral writing is in apposition to the piano in this work that it’s always tricky to bring off. In this performance we got lots of loving, sympathetic detail.”

Read her review in full here: http://www.larkreviews.co.uk/?p=5037

Andrew Connal for Latest Brighton focussed on the concert’s dedication to the late Don Newbold, CBE, who loved piano concertos, saying “One of the greatest is Rachmaninov’s No.3. From its very first, muted opening bars this was bound to be a powerful performance. Carefully measured by the soloist and conductor, the tension grew, was eased and built again many times throughout the three movements until the climax brought the full house to tremendous applause that was only calmed by another beautiful dose of Rachmaninov, Prelude Op.23 No.4.”

Read his review in full here: https://thelatest.co.uk/brighton/2019/03/17/season-finale-brighton-philharmonic-orchestra-steven-osborne-piano-barry-wordsworth-conductor/

Phil Dennett’s review appears digitally in uckfieldnews.com and on the Henfield Hub and will shortly appear in print in The Argus. Phil writes that the choice of music for the concert was: “an appropriate way to end a season that offered some engaging new experiences as well as established favourites.” He was particularly impressed by “A sizzling closing performance of the passionate Hector Berlioz love tribute Symphonie Fantastique [that] distilled all the soul-baring, stormy emotion of the ground-breaking score. The orchestra, including some impressive timpani and brass and lingering clarinet, revealed the vivid colours of a complex and fascinating piece in style.” and declared Steven Osborne’s “controlled but passionate” performance to have “brought fresh life to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto Number 3” with his “commitment and fierce concentration“ and “quicksilver exchanges” with the orchestra.

Read his review in full here: http://uckfieldnews.com/generous-sponsor-remembered-at-brighton-philharmonic-concert/

Chris Francis reviewed for the Brighton & Hove Independent, Mid Sussex Times and Sussex County Times, saying:There was certainly a big, big finish to the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra’s current season on Sunday, March 17, with what looked like the biggest audience to date at the Dome. Not only were they plentiful in number but they were as boisterous as the programme was rousing. Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth and the big line-up of musicians, including quite unusually two tubas and six timpanis, earned their keep and there was generous appreciation of both them as well as for the efforts of Steven Osborne in his performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3.”

Read his review in full here: https://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/whats-on/music/brighton-philharmonic-orchestra-brighton-dome-review-march-17-1-8857750

Comments received from Friends of the Phil and audience members:

“Just to say that I thought yesterday’s concert was probably the best I have ever heard!  Steven Osborne was absolutely brilliant.  More please! Thank you for such a wonderful end to the season.”

“Thank you for the concerts this season – all of which I have managed to attend this time! Yesterday’s finale was a triumph and Steven Osborne and his lightening fingers truly amazing. Did he have strapped fingers? Some friends and I thought he did but wondered how he could play so deftly if so….”

“I think the orchestra played its best yesterday out of a season in which it has been consistently excellent.”

“Very pleased, though not surprised, to see the good reviews rolling in. It was an exceptionally good concert.”

“My friends and I have said many times what a magnificent concert season this has been. Last Sunday’s concert was superb, thank to you all for giving us so much pleasure. We really do think it has been a most exciting season – especially the last three concerts. Needless to say, we are looking forward to October.”

“Thank you for a really splendid BPO season, and I can’t think there is any doubt that today’s concert was the best of a very fine bunch.”

On Twitter to Steven: “It was unbelievable! I was in tears right bang in the middle of the 1st movement. You shook Brighton right up. Thank you. Absolutely magical. PS: how many pianos do you get through in a month?”

And: “We’ve had @stevenosborne’s Rach preludes on a loop since getting back. I’m a groupie 😂… ”

And to the orchestra: “@BPO_orchestra that concert was exquisite! 👏”

Photos from the concert courtesy of David Gerrard.

Janet Lawrence reviewed the concert for her classical music show on Coastway Hospital Radio which goes out on Fridays from 2-3pm. Her review (which will be broadcast on Fri 22 March) is printed below with kind permission:

“Last Sunday was the final concert of the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra concerts. We enjoyed a variety of artists, programmes and conductors, with Barry Wordsworth, the orchestra’s own Conductor Laureate,  leading the last two concerts. 

The programme was huge.  Renowned pianist Steven Osborne playing Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto, with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique in the second half, in celebration of 150 years since the composer”s death.

The concert opened with Chabrier’s 4-minute Marche Joyeuse, short and cheerful played with all the punch it intended with a good showing of brass and wind instruments.

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Opus 30 was composed in 1909 and gained the reputation of being one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire.  I believe it. 

Steven Osborne comes on without preamble, sits and plays the complicated work faultlessly.  It really is a circuitous piece, full of unexpected themes and difficult piano sequences.  But Osborne is one of Britain’s most treasured musicians, his engagements taking him to major orchestras all over the world and he showed his mettle with the lights and shades of this work.  The New York Herald was known to predict that  ‘its great length and extreme difficulties bar it from performances by any but pianists of exceptional technical powers.’   ‘It will doubtless take rank among the most interesting piano concertos of recent years.’

The work begins with an idée fixe, a single melody that reappears in different guises throughout the first movement.  There’s quite a lot of orchestra before the piano comes in, in the second movement, and at the end the piano builds a long and exciting coda that brings this most brilliant and challenging of concertos to a flashing, glamorous close.

Barry Wordsworth has a tender touch and with gentle gestures lets the orchestra know exactly what’s needed of them.

In response to audience clapping and demands for more, Steven Osborne played another Rachmaninoff piece – ‘you can’t have too much Rachmaninoff’, he said – and played Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op.23 No.4 .

After the interval another huge work.  Honouring the 150 years since Hector Berlioz’s death, the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, under the expert baton of Barry Wordsworth, played Symphonie Fantastique, with its five movements.  Berlioz’s life overlapped Beethoven’s for some years – he was 24 when Beethoven died – and was much influenced by him, and by Shakespeare.  He fell in love with an actress called Harriet Smithson, and wrote the symphony for her; eventually he married her, though the marriage wasn’t all sweetness and light.  However, the symphony is, and the Brighton Phil gave it all its nuances, including some lovely harp passages and serious kettle drum activity in the later movements. 

The concert was dedicated to the memory of Don Newbold, a long-standing supporter and generous sponsor of the Orchestra.

This ends the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra for the season, to resume again with more orchestral delights in October.” Janet Lawrence

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