It was a stirring sight to see Lichfield Cathedral so packed for the closing concert of the Lichfield Festival – a visit from the excellent Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – with people seated as far back as the Choir.
It was a barnstorming performance, too, from Kirill Karabits – Bournemouth’s new, young conductor – but before the all-Russian programme opened, Festival Director Fiona Stuart gave a short speech, announcing that attendance was up 30 per cent on last year, and thanking the audience for its “incredible support” during a difficult time for the arts.
Opening with a Suite from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane (including the instantly recognisable Sabre Dance), the BSO played with incredible energy and verve, wringing every ounce of drama from the score.
The same energy could be heard throughout Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor (Op.18) with Russian soloist Boris Giltburg: another young artist who has a bright future ahead of him. Providing incredible resonance and richness, Giltburg’s intense approach was the perfect foil for the strings, keeping the piece firmly away from saccharine romance, and delivering a confident – even strident – interpretation of a well-loved classic.
Rounding off with Ravel’s popular orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Karabits made the most of the Ravel’s incredible orchestral colour, delivering a well-paced performance that built to a thrilling conclusion. It was the perfect end to an exciting evening, and to the Festival itself, which, despite a difficult financial climate, continues to deliver high-quality arts events to Lichfield and beyond.