The first Portsmouth concert in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's 2018-19 season, entitled Beethoven Five, was held at the Guildhall on Thursday evening.
It was conducted by Frank Zielhorst, a former Young Conductor in Association with the BSO.
The opening work was the Symphonic Variations by Sir Hubert Parry, perhaps an apt programming choice considering that the centenary of his death is this week and that he was born in Bournemouth. It is an infrequently performed work that belies Parry's reputation as a stuffy academic composer of choral music, clearly showing Parry's love of Germanic form mixed with an English tunefulness.
The first half was completed with the Chopin Piano Concerto No1 in E, a work first performed by the composer in 1830 in Warsaw at a farewell concert prior to his intended departure for London, a destination he never reached; having stopped in Paris he proceeded no further.
The soloist was Kim Barbier who was born in Paris. Zielhorst gave her sympathetic support with adept accompaniment from the BSO especially from horn and bassoon in a most memorable nocturne-like slow movement.
As a contrast to the little known work by Parry, the second half was one of the best known works in the orchestral symphonic repertoire, the fifth symphony by Beethoven. The dramatic rhythmically repetitive first movement was taken at a brisk and energetic pace; the slow movement gave a welcome relaxation of tension; the final two movements flowed dramatically from the darkness of the third movement into the blazing light of the fourth, giving an optimistic triumphal finish to the concert.