Kevin Stanley reviews the Halle's Christmas Concert at the Royal Concert Hall...
I’ve seen the Hallé Christmas Concert twice before and it’s always a fun and jolly experience. The Halle is an orchestra based in Manchester that has made Nottingham its second home. This festive spectacular is now part of my advent calendar.
The programme opens with Journey to Lapland (Saunders) it’s upbeat and is everything you expect at Christmas time. ‘Se vuol ballare’ from Marriage of Figaro (Mozart) and the Cinderella Suite (Prokofiev) are well known and the audience are appreciative.
The Hallé dip into movie music with ‘Somewhere in My Memory’ (John Williams) the theme from Home Alone, it’s a beautiful and delicate piece of music and it stuns the audience. They also play ‘Carol of the Bells’ (John Williams) from the same film which is met by rapturous applause.
It’s a wistful, but bouncy and exciting piece of music that is surely beloved by anyone who has ever heard it
If that weren’t enough, we’re treated to ‘Pure Imagination’ (Bricusse/Newley) from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which is simply divine when played live. It’s a wistful, but bouncy and exciting piece of music that is surely beloved by anyone who has ever heard it. It naturally conjures up images of Gene Wilder who produced so many unequalled performances as an actor, and was superlative in an incendiary turn as Willy Wonka. Conductor Stephen Bell says it is one of his favourites. Rodney Earl Clarke a baritone with the richest of tones, is the spectacular guest star for the evening and he performs the vocals for this wonderful song and several others.
All the pieces played this evening have yuletide connections and tinsel adorns the music stands and members of the orchestra wear Christmas hats and festive attire. It is all very festive. As in previous years, after the intermission, Bell reads out audience submissions of bad Christmas jokes. The audience love this and at this point it is a Christmas tradition – no matter how bad the jokes are!
The evening’s entertainment ends with Jingle Bell Rock (Beal/Boothe). What fun! Happy Christmas!
The Hallé Christmas Concert at the Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 20 December 2023
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