Cellist Thomas Carroll.

Review – How Schumann stopped applause between movements

Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra at The Dome, Brighton, on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Listening to the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra splendidly performing Schumann’s Cello Concerto at the Dome on Sunday some traditionalists must have thought he had an idea worth taking up again for modern audiences, writes Phil Dennett.

Stickler Schumann detested applause between movements. He solved the problem in this expressive concerto by running the three movements without intervals, linked by some cunning bridges.


There is a modern trend for people unaware of the etiquette of concert-going to burst into applause if they think an individual movement is well played. This seems to be tolerated out of politeness by musicians who in reality must find it distracting.

Schumann’s subtle score and the orchestra’s fine playing ensured you could not spot the joins in this moving performance where the soloist and the other musicians nailed the moderate, slow and lively tempos of the three linked “movements”.

The depressed composer jumped into the Rhine in a suicide attempt soon after finishing this piece and the orchestra accurately reflected the light and dark sides of his moods.


Cellist and director Thomas Carroll moved on from delightfully capturing the beautiful but sorrowful opening into some quicksilver work sharing some neatly-judged interplay with the orchestra, with delicate woodwind supplying good contrast.

He showed smoothly controlled legato in the longing of the slow movement.

There was a spirited “conversation” with an orchestra cellist before he put some warming fire in the belly of the vivacious third movement in an immensely satisfying performance that always held the attention.


Prokofiev’s fine Symphony Number 1 in D Major provided an enticing entrée to the afternoon, with gurgling bassoon, dancing strings and nimble flute in the mix with some lyrical violin and cello in an absorbing performance of precision and agility that zipped along at a quick pace.


Those who have loved holidays in Scotland would have relished the echoes of the glens and lochs the orchestra so colourfully portrayed in a sparkling Mendelssohn’s Symphony Number 3, called the “Scottish”.

The composer wrote it 13 years after walking in Scotland, and the musicians showed that this splendid piece was worth the wait as they captured all its open spaces, grandeur and romance in a widescreen portrayal.


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