A BLAZE of brass set Suppe’s Light Cavalry Overture on its’ way as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Roberto Minczuk, opened this New Year Gala Concert over-flowing with Viennese music of melody, rhythm and romance.

Quick Polka by Joann Strauss II, and his Czardas from Ritter Pasman, was enhanced by violin soloist Chloe Hanslip, dark deliberate accents, gradually speeding up to exciting fervour.

Strings dazzled in Lehar’s Zigeunerliebe Waltzes and in his Hungarian Fantasy the solo violin, muted against pizzicato strings and in duet with a beautiful clarinet, created a magical orchestral atmosphere.

Music by Kreisler, and more choice pieces by Joann Strauss II followed. Woodwind emulated bird-song in Tales from the Vienna Woods Waltzes and cellos danced superbly; polkas and waltzes whisked us along as the evening neared the climax when the CBSO bubbled and fizzed through the Champagne Polka, percussionists revelling in ‘popping’ corks, and the elegant Viennese Waltz, epitomising music perfect for a Gala.

The Blue Danube, beginning quietly, gorgeous cellos and harp, wonderful colour from low brass and magnificent strings, woodwind, especially clarinet and flutes – in fact, this entire distinguished ensemble performing superbly throughout, ended exultantly.

As an encore The Radetzky March encouraged the happy audience to clap along!

By Jill Hopkins