“Yes, we can!”
Where am I? A world-class orchestra in fine form, playing in a fantastic concert hall with a superb acoustic. Vienna? London? Berlin?
No. I’m in Portsmouth Guildhall, listening to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Triumph and Passion programme. Khachaturian’s Spartacus has been unofficially re-titled as the theme tune to The Onedin Line, showing that the BSO’s programmers know how to woo an audience. More audience-pleasing came with Shostakovich’s second piano concerto, which is a rattlingly good piece, full of jollity. The composer wrote it as a 19th birthday present for his son and it is frequently described as a pen-picture of innocent youth. Soloist Boris Giltburg (appropriately named for his golden touch in the slow movement) showed exemplary technique as he skittishly ran around his piano-playground, full of energy and enthusiasm. The orchestra was at its best here, with astonishing discipline in the exacting, complex rhythms of the final movement.
Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony is also crowd-pleaser and it was in this work of great passion and drama that they displayed their amazing string section (as warm-toned as any of the great European orchestras) equally matched in skill by the other sections of the orchestra.
Can lowly Pompey compete with the best? Yes, we can!