For sheer enjoyment nothing beats British Light Music played superbly well, as John Wilson and the CBSO have demonstrated on many occasions.
Last Wednesday’s concert was no exception, with even slight offerings like Rouge et Noir and Scrub, Brothers, Scrub! acquiring a degree of sophistication their composers Fred Hartley and ‘Ken’ Warner probably never envisaged.
On more contrasted levels Walton’s Overture Portsmouth Point bustled with raucous activity, while Delius’s Summer Night on the River was given an unusually impassioned reading – and a glorious cello solo from Eduardo Vassallo. How refreshing, too, to hear a Mikado Overture delivered with serious intent and melodic grace.
Even more pleasurable were the beautifully shaded strings and Straussian elegance of Toye’s The Haunted Ballroom, leader Zoë Beyers’ delicious solo in Farnon’s Pictures in the Fire, and the orchestral grandeur of Eric Coates’ London Suite.
But the real find was Arthur Benjamin’s rarely heard Romantic Fantasy for violin and viola, a disarmingly guileless layer-cake of rhetorical flourishes, richly populated with motto themes (if few fully-spun melodies) and a colourfully effervescent central Scherzino, which soloists Andrew Haveron and Lawrence Power (musically joined at the hip) and Wilson’s lustrous CBSO threw off with scintillating panache.
Rating * * * * *