Hastings Philharmonic, review: St Mary in the Castle, October 11

To open the new season Hastings Philharmonic came together with Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, the central work for the concert being Mozart’s Piano Concerto No23 in A with this year’s first prize winner Fumiya Koido as soloist.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 5:51 pm
Fumiya Koido

It proved to be a winning combination, greatly helped by the full raised platform allowing the sound, in what is already a fine acoustic, to blossom and fill the space with ease and power.

The approach to the concerto by both pianist and conductor seemed clean and crisp at the outset, almost cool at times, with great clarity of articulation and individual orchestral voices. Real emotion evolved with the central Adagio with its gently flowing lines and suppressed intensity.

The final Allegro assai sparkled into life and remained cheerfully optimistic throughout. An encore would have been nice but did not materialise.

The evening had opened with Mozart’s Haffner symphony, No35 in D. It had fine bravura in the opening movement and delicate figuration in the second. The militaristic approach to the Menuetto – I wouldn’t like to try to dance to this! – led into a fiery, fast-paced conclusion. Within St Mary’s the change in instrumentation, which Mozart chose between the symphony and the concert, was marked and particularly effective in underlining the change of tone and mood.

The second half brought us Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony – a work still surprisingly under-performed compared with the rest of the canon. The reserved, cautious opening gave way to an abrasive onslaught, which never seemed to be able to decide whether it wanted to seduce us or batter us into submission. The intimacy of the opening of the slow movement brought some respite, with lovely running cello lines and wind figuration, but the returning power of the Scherzo soon put this out of mind.

Marcio da Silva took the finale at a hell-for-leather pace, which the orchestra were more than capable of meeting.

The Mozartian figuration of the string writing was bombarded by the brass as if demanding an exultant climax, to which the strings eventually submitted.

A splendid start to the season with so much more to come.

The next concert is on Saturday, November 2 (7pm), at Christ Church, St Leonards. Find out more at www.hastingsphilharmonic.com.

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