At St Mary in the Castle: Hastings Philharmonic – Mozart & O’Meara

The Hastings Philharmonic conducted by Marcio Silva

By the time you are any age in life you can go ‘And what had Mozart achieved by this time?’ and realise that you’re running second best. Until you hit 36 and then you can crow, League of Gentleman style, that at least you’ve won the living contest. Two of Mozart’s later works – meaning he wrote them when was about 32 – were paired with a new piece by Philip O’Meara by the Hastings Philharmonic for their latest concert at St Mary in the Castle. It made for an excellent evening.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way. There weren’t many people here. The weather definitely would have kept a proportion relying on their car away in fear that the forecast snow was right but even allowing for that the grand building was disappointingly showing a lot of empty seats. And those seats weren’t cheap, not for a regular classical concert. Once the booking fee was added mine, the cheapest in the room, was just shy of £20. I get that there are expenses to cover and life isn’t fair but that seems just a little too steep to tempt the casual punter. A tenner in the gods and fifteen for the stalls would seem a better fit.

But I’ll stop grumbling now.

After an introduction from Polly Gifford about the genuinely amazing array of music that can be experienced in Hastings we got on down to K.364, Sinfonia Concertante. Ayşen Ulucan and Cristian Ladislau-Andris handled the violin and voila (respectively) leads well and the moves between reflective intensity and sprightly jig were delivered with panache by the players. Following the interval we had Philip O’Meara’s latest premiere, Flacubal 95, which is a response to Mozart’s 40th Symphony. So the odd situation where the reaction was before the question but no matter. This was an enjoyable piece. The influences were there and were clear but it also felt fresh and contemporary. I’d like to hear it again. Finally, that 40th Symphony, which, to be honest, we’ve all heard a lot. It wasn’t exactly given fresh life here, I think that would basically be impossible, but it was certainly enjoyably delivered and given as thorough workout as possible.

Next up for the Hastings Philharmonic is Elgar’s Cello Concerto on April 14th. That should sound cause hearts to break with the acoustic and visuals of St Mary in the Castle to support it.

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