REVIEW: Promenade Concert Orchestra, The Platform, Morecambe

Howard Rogerson, conductor of the Promenade Concert Orchestra.
Howard Rogerson, conductor of the Promenade Concert Orchestra.

DAVID ALDER writes...The early afternoon, late January, Morecambe weather was dark and dismal.

A solitary grebe, perhaps mindful as much of the fact that it was RSPB bird count weekend as it was of imitating Viennese elegance, was alternately gliding and diving adjacent to the Old Jetty.

And there certainly was elegance and passion as well as light, warmth and fun to be had during the Promenade Concert Orchestra’s eighth annual Viennese concert at the Platform.

Once again, conductor Howard Rogerson had conjured up an innovative programme which did not depend as heavily on pieces by the Strauss family as is sometimes the case – they had three slots, only one for Johann Strauss II.

As well as showing their usual impressive mettle in the purely orchestral numbers, the orchestra accompanied fine Argentinian tenor Roberto Garcia Lopez in six arias from Franz Lehar’s noted operettas.

Possessed of a pleasing voice, Roberto fully demonstrated his ability to hit the top notes as well expressing the range of emotions demanded by the various pieces selected, both the familiar and the not so well known.

The popular young dancers of Turning Point Theatre Arts made a welcome return as they performed three dance numbers, including Hans Christian Lumbye’s tuneful and lively ‘Champagne Galop’, complete with champagne glasses!

The Lumbye composition – a favourite piece from Denmark, with Tivoli Gardens connections – is indicative of the way dance music – waltzes, polkas, galops and so on – spread out from Vienna in the nineteenth century and how Danish, North German (eg Fetras), French (eg Waldteufel) and other national composers wrote music to satisfy the local demand.

It was a privilege to have the opportunity to hear excellent, tuneful examples of sometimes very lyrical music which is not often played.

The concert which was topped and tailed in lively manner by a von Suppé overture and the Radetzky March, also included two early 20th century compositions with a military theme by Gung’l and Jordan, to commemorate WWI, and from Bradford the delightful ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Delius.

The orchestra, led by Julian Cann, displayed both lyricism and enthusiasm and all sections fully played their part in fulfilling the requirements of the attractive scoring.

Howard Rogerson presided in precise but affable fashion, and managed to survive the glass of champagne presented to him just before the interval!

Another very successful concert and another very satisfied audience.