REVIEW: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Portsmouth Guildhall

When Franz Liszt performed an encore he liked to ask the audience to nominate a tune and he would improvise upon it.

After her splendid rendition of Ravel’s piano concerto, Gabriela Montero asked the Guildhall audience to suggest their chosen tune in just the same way.

From the middle stalls the admirable baritone voice of Tony Dines sang the folk tune Portsmouth, and Montero duly treated us to a stunning improvisation.

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By coincidence, the arrangement by Ralph Vaughan Williams from his march Sea Songs was recorded 40 years ago by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and George Hurst (Chandos CBR1004).

The remainder of the concert was equally fine.

Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto coaxed marvellous playing from the BSO, and the glories of Ravel’s orchestration were experienced across the full range, from refinement to powerful sonority.

The imaginative programme featured the famous Ravel version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, his scoring of Debussy’s attractive Danse, and his Rapsodie Espagnole.

The latter opened proceedings, featuring a large ensemble, while delivering a restrained palette of beautifully atmospheric colours.

And to conclude what was a very special concert, there was the magnificent climax of Pictures, known as The Great Gate of Kiev, replete with bells.

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