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LAST NIGHT OF THE SPRING PROMS (Symphony Hall)

30-03-2009

England

Terry Will enjoys a night to popular classics ranging from Tchaikovsky to Eric Coates.

“Welcome to the last night of the Spring Proms although the weather more resembles winter”

John Pryce-Jones, conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra setting the scene for an evening of uplifting classics interspersed with music and songs so fondly remembered by those of a certain generation!

And at the end of two hours sparkling entertainment undoubtedly the cold outside weather had been replaced by a genuine inner feeling of warmth and upliftment from the departing enthusiastic audience.

The choice of music was varied in the extreme ranging from the lilting overture of Strauss ‘Die Fledermaus’ the much loved Tchaikovsky ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ (from the ‘Nutcracker’) - Dvorak’s ‘Slavonic Dance’- and Rossini’s ‘Gallop’ from William Tell, fondly remembered as the signature tune from television’s ‘Lone Ranger’.

Soprano Stephanie Corley, and Tenor John Marshall, both magnificent singers in their own right, receiving enthusiastic applause whether singing solo or as a duet.

John Marshall, with the inevitable ‘Nessum Dorma’ and ‘Funiculi, funicula’ and Stephanie Corley singing ‘We’ll meet again’ and splendid renditions of wartime nostalgic favourites  ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’.

What came as a surprise was the announcement from John Pryce-Jones, and what a splendid job he did with his quips and anecdotes relating to various songs and compositions, when telling the two latter traditional British favourites, the hallmark of Dame Vera Lynn, were written by American composers who had never set foot in England, Walter Kent and Eric Maschwitz respectively.

Modern day compositions included music from films ‘633 Squadron’ and ‘Those magnificent men in their Flying machines’ inevitably leading to memories of sitting in a darkened cinema wondering as to the outcome of the story lines.

Back to Eric Coates favourite ‘Calling All Workers’ (the signature of the long running ‘Workers Playtime’ plus a classical rendition of ‘Tea for Two’- made famous in the Hollywood movie starring Doris Day.

This surprising interpretation, via Russian composer Shostakovich, came as a result of being invited to pen his own interpretation. He promptly took up the ‘challenge’ sat down and completed this splendid version in a mere 45 minutes.

But naturally as the evening was billed as ‘The Last Night of the Spring Proms’ the audience were anticipating a rousing traditional finale and they weren’t to be disappointed.

Inevitably ‘Rule Britannia’, and ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ suitably allowing the variety of flags held, and draped around the hall, being waved with great gusto.

Everyone on stage for the rousing finale. John Marshall and Stephanie Corley draped in the Union Jack with John Pryce-Jones proudly holding the Welsh national flag.

Time to go but not before joining in a stirring rendition of ‘We’ll meet again’ to round off a memorable, nostalgic, evening.

I’ll be the first to admit that as an ‘amateur’ I’m not qualified to offer a review as would be expected from an acknowledged professional critic.

But in saying that I would find it difficult to read those who hold an opposing point of view based on the reaction from the VERY enthusiastic audience who had undeniably enjoyed a wonderful nights entertainment.

(Musicians displaying a deft light touch when required before coming together as one for the more desired rousing orchestrations, plus a conductor and singers who have to be among the finest in the country)
 
Summing up. Whenever future Prom Night’s (Spring or otherwise) are held, be it London’s Royal Albert Hall or any other UK venue, Birmingham’s magnificent Symphony Hall with it’s wonderful acoustics is more than capable of matching them in enthusiasm and quality if not in tradition.

‘More of the same please’.

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