The first concert of the New Year in the BSO’s popular Poole Concert Season celebrated musical innovations from earlier eras. It was also a chance to welcome back to the Lighthouse this year’s BSO Artist-in-Residence, Andreas Ottensamer, Principal Clarinet of the Berlin Phil.

The programme took its cue from Mr Ottensamer’s recent recording on the Decca label, the heart of proceedings being the Clarinet Concerto in B flat Major by Johann Stamitz and the Clarinet Concerto No 7 (Darmstadter No 1) by his son Carl Stamitz.

These lively early classical period works from the Mannheim School provided the perfect showcase for the soloist’s sunny and dancing style – both as player and orchestra director. Dating from the earliest days of the clarinet, they need – and got – the energy and finesse of one of the world’s great clarinet players. The orchestra, warming up for its 125 anniversary celebrations, was lean, fit and ready to follow where the Artist-in-Residence led them, the strings especially playing with a sophisticated elegance which truly suited the style of the music.

The conductor of the opening and closing works of the concert was Matthew Halls. He opened proceedings with Mozart’s Haffner Symphony (No 35), bringing from the Orchestra a performance full of joyful happiness. The work is conceived on a large scale, which gave scope for the BSO winds, especially, to show off their beautiful tone and crisp delivery in this brilliant and demanding score. The final presto could have been accompanied with a succession of party poppers. It came over as a sequence of little explosions of smiling delight.

Dvorak’s Symphony 5 proved an ideal way to conclude this evening – a truly lyrical and ultimately a dramatic New Year present from the BSO. From the exultant opening, through the restful second movement and the buoyant scherzo to the intense finale, the message was clear. There is much to enjoy in the earlier Dvorak symphonies and many signs of the well-known masterpieces to come.

The BSO was again championing some less-well-known repertoire, constantly building on the strengths of its 125 years in the forefront of English music making.

Review by Tom Wickson