Coffee Concert 18th April 2021 – Joanna MacGregor with Brighton Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble – Strings Attached Review by John Hawkins

In contrast to their previous Schumann/Brahms concert, this wonderfully imaginative programme was exceptionally wide-ranging in time, style and forces. From solo violin and piano to full concerto, from Bach to Piazzola via Mozart, Purcell and Vaughan Williams, what might have seemed a bizarre mixture became an exciting journey through vivid performances and ingenious links between the pieces – Mozart being represented by arrangements of Bach; the Piazzola tangos reworkings by Joanna MacGregor; the Pärt, like the Purcell being sets of variations, as is the finale of the Vaughan Williams.

‘Fratres’ by Arvo Pärt – has become a classic in many of its forms. Highly economical in conception, the rigorous workings-out range from baroque virtuosity and power to a hauntingly still ending, all cogently and memorably played by Thomas Gould.

The Piazzola Tangos brought out a joyful exuberance in Joanna MacGregor’s brilliant arrangements – and playing. The group seemed to relish this welcome eruption of Buenos Aires in Brighton.

The Vaughan Williams is an early piece which, although later disowned by the composer, shows his sheer skill in the idiom he had inherited. The players brought commitment and enthusiasm to this richly textured and highly emotional music. It deserves many more performances.