Brighton Dome, Brighton, Sunday, October 14

LAST Sunday was the first of the Brighton Philharmonic Society’s season of monthly concerts at the Brighton Dome until March 2019. The series highlights various conductors, soloists and styles of music.

Sunday’s concert celebrated all that was English; Edward Elgar, Hubert Parry, patriotism, coronations, the pity of war and the joy of life via the (unBritish) Shostakovich Festival Overture to start us off.

And the 120-strong Brighton Festival Choir, celebrating its 50th anniversary, gave good voice to many of the works, including Handel’s Zadok the Priest, written for the coronation of George II and Queen Caroline.

Hubert Parry, known chiefly for his Proms piece Jerusalem, composed much more and his work From Death to Life was played to commemorate its debut in The Dome for the 1914 Brighton Festival, reflecting Parry’s dismay at the agonies of the First World War.

So we had a couple of familiars from Elgar, Parry’s contemporary, the cheerful Cockaigne Overture (In London Town), two lesser known more contemplative works, “Great is the Lord” commissioned for the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Society in 1912 and “Oh Hearken Thou”, premiered in 1911 in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of King George V. So a lot of celebratory stuff going on.

Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth was as usual elegant, upright and totally unequivocal in what he wanted the orchestra to do, whether to bring in sections, quieten the tone or highlight a soloist. He won’t be conducting all the concerts but it’s plain he loves the Brighton Phil and we are lucky to have him. First violin John Bradbury has also been with the Phil for decades and leads a good orchestra.

Finishing this varied repertoire of familiar and new, was Elgar’s four-movement choral work “Scenes from the Bavarian Alps”.

With its distinct Austrian feel, the first Dance movement was reminiscent of lederhosen and dirndl skirts, followed by three emotive sections: False Love, Lullaby and Aspirations.

Barry Wordsworth might well agree with something that Sir Thomas Beecham once said: “The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought”. And I think this concert did just that.

Janet Lawrence