REVIEW: BSO, Ravel, Couperin and R Strauss, Lighthouse, Poole

The BSO’s performance on the last evening before another lockdown was poignant. Greeting the audience, Dougie Scarfe thanked us for our support and warmth. He said the feedback from the livestreaming had been wonderful, our Bournemouth orchestra now being enjoyed as far afield as New Zealand and the USA.

The evening’s conductor was Brian Wigglesworth, a composer himself, who has said he has to avoid the conflict of being saturated in other people’s music, but feels conducting adds to his skills as a composer. Of course tonight’s composers, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Brahms, all conducted, and Wigglesworth claims it is easy to spot composers who were experienced conductors; their practical knowledge is evidenced on every page.

Die Schone Melusine, the fable of the half-human water sprite, starts with flowing strings and gentle clarinets. The water themes develop as her story unfolds into the jealousy of her husband, his love for her, and then, as he breaks his vow, Melusine’s loss. As the music becomes more urgent, then dark, deep and slow, Melusine disappears beneath the waves for ever.

Mozart’s Symphony No 34 followed, opening with a bang, the grand majestic themes developing with the full range of instruments bringing the Allegro Con Brio alive. We then hear the sweet tones of he Andante Di Molto with its sedate pace, and the move into the Allegro Vivace comes with a thunder of bass countered by the delicacy of the violins in an irresistible pace.

The final piece, Brahms Symphony No 3, a personal favourite, is tightly knit, containing his famous code Frei Aber Froh, Free But Joyful, played throughout and firstly taken by the violins. With a majestic, swooping almost funereal feel, the themes develop throughout the first movement, calming in the second but still with a touch of the tragic, with Poco Allegretto sweeping into the Allegro, a lyrical movement recapitulating the themes with no lack of sweetness amidst the passion.

And a standing, stamping ovation from the small but devoted audience for another wonderful evening. Next week, due to restrictions, the concert will be played live in the Lighthouse although with no audience, but will be livestreamed.

Bournemouth Echo | What’s On