Review: The Hallé’s classic Christmas

Words: Ian Douglas
Thursday 16 December 2021
reading time: min, words

You know you’re in safe hands


You know you’re in safe hands with the Hallé. Manchester’s famed orchestra is a regular visitor to Nottingham and not to be missed if you’re a classical music lover.

Last night’s Christmas concert was no exception. The show opens with some golden oldies, Rossini’s Barber of Saville and the Toreador from Bizet’s Carmen. These are a prelude to the seasonal tunes, with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite getting us in the mood for yuletide cheer. Who doesn’t love the plinks and plonks of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy?

The Christmassy fun really gets under way after the intermission, with the orchestra banging out some seasonal standards. Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas may bring a tear to the eye of Judy Garland fans. But we also get the ear honey of the Polar Express, Ski Sunday, Jingle Bells, White Christmas, and the Sleigh Ride among others.

The night’s guest star, so to speak, was Quirijn de Lang. A Dutch baritone with a CV as long as a Wagnerian opera, Quirijn supplied the vocals with gusto. A particular favourite was his rendition On the Street where You Live, from My Fair Lady. A superb and versatile voice, as polished with the musicals as the operas.

Conductor Stephen Bell presided over the performances, inviting us to forget the last two terrible years and enjoy some melodious escapism. With a touch of the stand-up comedian, he had the audience in laughter. He suggested tweeters in the auditorium send him jokes, and he shared the least outrageous after the break. One favourite was why does the Prime Minster always lose at scrabble? Because he keeps changing his word.

Music stands were decked in tinsel. Some performers donned Christmas hats. There was a singalong and clapping-in-time. Needless to say, the Hallé Orchestra was note perfect. Mr Bell succeeded in his goal. We did forget about that terrible pandemic for a couple of hours. What more could anyone ask for?

The Hallé Christmas Concert took place at the Royal Concert Hall on Weds Dec 15th 2021.

For information about The Hallé at the Royal Concert Hall in 2022 please visit

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