Chichester Symphony Orchestra at Chichester Cathedral

It’s always a capacity crowd, and more, for the CSO’s lunchtime turn. There are more friends and family, of course, than for a soloist but the full orchestra is a rare treat for lunch and they never let you down.

Mozart would have been one of the great composers if he had only written his operas but he did a bit more than that, I understand. One can’t go straight into a Beethoven Concerto and so the overture to Cosi Fan Tutte was the warm-up. All orchestras behave like that. It gave the woodwind a fine opportunity to bring in some happy phrasing before being propelled by busy anticipation.

Tim Rumsey then presented the main course, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 4, op. 58, from 16 years later. The Allegro moderato begins with a hint of the anxieties one finds in Mozart until the piano tip-toes, trills and runs like quicksilver in Tim’s hands, not imposing himself on the music but in sympathy with it. It has a fine cadenza that resolves into warmth – which I will go back to the discs by Mitsuko Uschida that I bought in support of her some years ago when a Times critic who shall remain nameless said she missed some notes in a marvellous Proms performance. What a nerve. You can’t trust a reviewer.

The orchestra is more forthright and darker in the Andante with the piano apparently in search of reasons for optimism but that is a brief interlude between the longer outer movements. The Rondo strains towards a gallop while the piano, for me at least, was again trying to make a different case, here insisting on being melodic and maybe it made its point because the big ending isn’t as big as some of Beethoven’s symphonic climaxes.

Some standing to applaud was entirely justified for the empathy and poise of a performance augmented by the well-tempered sound of the orchestra. Thus there was just enough time for an encore and, as one who enjoyed nothing more than the old quiz show, Face the Music, I had a confident stab at ‘Gershwin?’ and was right. It was Oh! I Can’t Sit Down from Porgy and Bess in a jazzy arrangement providing a signpost towards a different area of Tim’s repertoire and interests. He’s a rare talent. I can only remember Steven Kovacevic getting a standing ovation in Chichester before and the local heroine, Angelina Kopyrina, in Portsmouth. They shouldn’t be given away like platitudes and they aren’t.

David Green

Image: Tim Rumsey

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