Musical poems and masterpieces

BOURNEMOUTH Symphony’s February programme is a rich combination of classical favourites, rarities and masterpieces, with some of the world’s great soloists joining the orchestra.

All the concerts featured here are at Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre, but many also have performances at other regular venues – Bristol’s newly refurbished and reopened Beacon (formerly the Colston Hall), Exeter University Great Hall and Portsmouth Guildhall – check the Arts Diary for those dates.

The month opens with Mendelssohn’s Masterpiece on Wednesday 7th February with Thierry Fischer conducting and violinist Veronica Eberle (pictured) as soloist in Mendelssohn’s beautiful violin concerto. The other works all celebrate the sea: Ina Boyle’s A Sea Poem, Wagner’s Entry of the Gods from Das Rheingold and Debussy’s impressionistic La Mer.

Romeo and Juliet on 14th February, conducted by Emilia Hoving, features one of the great musical interpretations of the famous doomed lovers. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet music combines his unique style of melding classical with the modern. This found brilliant expression in the violent hostility between the Montagues and Capulets, and in the brutal darkness of the unenlightened medieval setting.

Winner of the Finnish critics’ prize 2021 for the Best Newcomer in the Arts, conductor Emilia Hoving (pictured) joins the orchestra and star violinist Ning Feng in this exciting programme which also features Beethoven’s celebratory violin concerto, and opens with Saariaho’s Ciel d’Hiver, an atmospheric and contemplative acoustic poem celebrating the winter sky.

London Town on 21st February brings the critically acclaimed pianist Boris Giltburg (pictured) as soloist with the BSO in Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 2, which makes great demands on the player’s technique. Giltburg has been praised for his “singing line, variety of touch and broad dynamic palette capable of great surges of energy” (Washington Post).

Karl-Heinz Steffens will also conduct the orchestra in Vaughan Williamss Symphony No 2, known as A London Symphony. Described as the musical equivalent of Monet’s paintings of the sun rising over a foggy Thames, this symphony has familiar London sounds fleetingly emerging from its exquisitely woven musical tapestry — the chimes of Big Ben, the cry of a lavender-seller.

Brahms Second Piano Concerto makes great demands on the player’s technique and will be performed here by Boris Giltburg, a pianist who has been praised for his “singing line, variety of touch and broad dynamic palette capable of great surges of energy” (Washington Post).

The last Poole concert of the month is the outrageously dramatic, powerful and uplifting Verdi Requiem, on Wednesday 28th February, conducted by David Hill. The soloists are Miah Persson (soprano), Alice Coote (mezzo-soprano), Brenden Gunnell (tenor) and James Platt (bass) with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus.

As dramatic and powerful as any of his operas, some critics at the time were distressed by the overtly theatrical character of the music. And yet the most dramatic moments also provide its most moving and even devout passages. Brahms wrote that only a genius could have written such a work!

Pictured: Emilia Hoving, Veronica Eberle and Boris Giltburg (photograph by Sasha Gusov).