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Fizzing Performances

The Derby Concert Orchestra and Chorale
in Christmas mood,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Derby Concert Orchestra seems to be deliberately setting out to explore Peter Maxwell Davies's shorter, lighter pieces at its Christmas concerts. With Orkney wedding, with sunrise and Cross Lane fair under their belts, the players turned their attention this time [Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 2 December 2006] to Mavis in Las Vegas, Max's tongue-in-cheek celebration of all that's tacky in the US gambling capital. It was a neat choice for a programme dominated by American music, and DCO projected its series of vignettes -- Liberace Museum, Caesar's Palace and the rest -- with great aplomb.

Gershwin's An American in Paris (to which Mavis is a kind of counterpart) started the evening, taking a little while to settle down, but finding the right bluesy note for the nostalgic episode, and doing the Broadway-style big finish with panache.

A fizzing performance of the overture to Bernstein's operetta Candide started the second half, which ended with the four dance episodes from Copland's ballet Rodeo. This got the best performance of the evening, with a fine sense of atmosphere in 'Corral Nocturne' and infectiously exuberant energy in the final 'Hoedown'.

Derby Concert Chorale provided the seasonal items, singing with a fine tone and blend that belied the group's ad-hoc nature.

Copyright © 11 December 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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