Birmingham Town Hall

It was almost like visiting Thomas Trotter at home on Wednesday afternoon, when the Birmingham city organist presided over a concert in the Town Hall which he did so much to curate during its decrepit empty years, keeping the magnificent old organ in playing order while plaster and bats tumbled off the walls around his hard hat.

Now he has the reward for all his devoted efforts, with his beloved instrument proudly presiding over the superbly restored auditorium: the many-sided Poulenc Organ Concerto provided a perfect vehicle to display its resources.

Trotter’s phrasing was fabulously shapely, registrations were arresting and imaginative, and a compact body of Orchestra of the Swan strings, exquisitely balanced under David Curtis, provided attentive support and textures of snappy clarity -- and the telling timpani contribution delivered just the right amount of Gothic spookiness (full marks to the last-minute stand-in player).

Other composers featured in this enthusiastically attended concert included Respighi, Albinoni and Mendelssohn, as well as Rossini, whose String Sonata in C major proved an utter delight. Its central slow movement cast sombre clouds of operatic tragedy before the high-stepping elegance of the variation finale -- and all this written by a lad of 12.

Rating 4/5

Christopher Morley