AN encore usually comes as an added treat at the end of a concert.

But, being one of the encores specially-commissioned as part of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s 60th anniversary, William Marsey’s The Sea was moved to pride of place in the middle of a concert at Sage Gateshead.

Growing up on the Hartlepool coast, Marsey recalls the sea’s “ruthless sense of humour”, flattening a garage in his street flat and hurling seaweed chunks far inland.

The work’s debut, with Lars Vogt leading on the piano, was a vivid musical portrayal of surf surging to the shore and crashing down, before ebbing and welling up again.

Weighing in just short of three minutes, it was a gem.

Vogt opened the concert with a buoyant account of Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op 6 No 7, followed by a colourful rendition of Brahms’ Handel Variations, arranged by Edmund Rubbra for orchestra.

Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat, one of the pillars of the Romantic repertoire, was ridiculed by an influential critic of the day, who described it as “a composition dragged to its grave” over 45 minutes.

Vogt invested it with life-affirming vitality in a pulsating account, holding the audience captivated throughout.

He stormed through the first movement, while second was taken to a thrilling climax.

The highlight came in the slow movement, with cellist Steffan Morris shining in a sublime and deeply expressive solo.

Morris deserved an encore in his own right, and it came in the shape of the slow movement of Brahms’ Cello Sonata in F major, in which he shared a warm rapport with Vogt.

Gavin Engelbrecht