Lesley Garrett Christmas Gala Concert, at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Give Lesley Garrett her due – she knows how to deliver a song (there were more than 20 in this Christmas Gala), her figure-hugging frocks stop just short of Dame Edna glitz, and her giggly introductions have a garden-gate cheeriness that many find endearing.
But why sing everything with a microphone? Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, Rodgers & Hammerstein and the rest (including ebullient arrangements of Ding, dong! merrily on high and Joy to the world clearly needed it, but not Mozart, Massenet and Puccini, least of all Bach and Handel.
The Alleluia from Bach’s Cantata No. 51 and Handel’s Oh! Had I Jubal’s Lyre would have sounded so much better without amplified breathing, and even some of the quieter, more romantic numbers suffered from distortion.
Firmly on the credit side, however, was the refined support of the English Chamber Orchestra, whose conductor Philip Ellis seized whatever moments were to hand, particularly a finely burnished Gold and Silver Waltz of Lehár.