An evening of pure delight welcomed audiences back to Lighthouse, Poole, for the opening of the BSO’s 22/23 concert season. Wow! It was great to be back – and with a typically interesting, challenging and poignant programme of music.

Orchestra CEO Dougie Scarfe welcomed the audience, which included specially-invited Ukrainian refugees, both to this event and to all the revitalising music to come between now and next May. He also welcomed two players from Kharkiv who were able to join the orchestra for this special evening – they received a particularly warm round of welcoming applause from the full house.

Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is a great shout of praise for the experience of being alive. It was a much-needed morale boost after a dark few weeks following the death of Her Majesty, the continuing worrying news from Ukraine and fears over the rising cost of living. The sinister funeral march opening, the vehement second movement and the sprightly dancing Scherzo were played with great weight and no little daring by all sections of the orchestra. The famous Adagietto then offered a draught of warmth and love which proved the perfect set-up for the glorious Rondo finale. Chief conductor Kirill Karabits steered his forces to the joyful conclusion with the sure grasp of a master builder. Cheering was loud, long and deserved.

“Wow! It was great to be back – and with a typically interesting, challenging and poignant programme of music”

In the first half of the concert, a most moving premiere had made this evening yet more special. Mr Karabits has researched the compositions of his fellow Ukrainian Feodor Akimenko which have been stored in the National Library in Paris for many years. His Cello Concerto (1922) which was played here with very fine feeling by Victor Julien-Laferrière, was to have been premiered in Akimenko’s home town, Kharkiv – a plan which was sadly impossible to carry out. However, trusting the BSO to bring this music to life was a privilege to which the orchestra rose with supreme confidence. The concerto is a Romantic three-movement piece, with Russian and French influences discernible. It was a beautiful and confidently-expressed work which will surely be heard again. Mr Julien-Laferrière and the orchestral strings offered a charming encore in the Serenata movement from Stravinsky’s Pulcinella suite.

The evening had started with a glass of musical champagne in the form of Stravinsky’s Scherzo Fantastique, a thoughtful link as Akimenko was Stravinsky’s teacher.

There is so much to look forward to in the BSO performances all over the southwest this season. A delight tonight certainly, but also a prelude to many more delights to come between now and next May.

We also recieved reviews from Bachtrack, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Bachtrack ****“unequivocally life affirming”

The Guardian  **** for the “outstanding performances” which “underlined what a fine ensemble the BSO is nowadays”

The Telegraph **** “…it was the experience of that subtle, moving concerto and all it symbolised of defiance and survival that made the evening special

Click here to find out more about whats on this season