BWW Review: PROM 30: THE WARNER BROTHERS STORY, Royal Albert Hall
John Wilson and his orchestra return to the BBC Proms in a concert titled "The Warner Brothers Story", taking audiences on a whirlwind trip through the mammoth catalogue of music written for 1930-1960s Hollywood movies.
Wilson is welcomed with warm and affectionate applause and promptly gets the show underway with Erich Wolfgang Korngold's dramatic overture The Seak Hawk. The overture from the 1962 film version of Gypsy also features at the top of the second half. Both show off the energy and skill of the players - and they're only just getting started.
The orchestra are joined by four soloists across the evening as well as the voices of the Maida Vale Singers. They create a joyous sound and enthusiastically deliver lively character solos within some of the movie musical numbers. The soloists shine in their performances while also taking a step aside to let the musicians take centre stage from time to time.
Louise Dearman heartily leads "We're in the Money" from Gold Diggers of 1933 and Calamity Jane's "The Deadwood Stage". She also gives a truly devastating performance of Gershwin's "The Man That Got Away" from A Star Is Born - the 1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason.
Matt Ford revels in the jollity of "Get Me To The Church On Time" from My Fair Lady, with notable support from Calum Melville and Stephen Weller from the Maida Vale Singers. He is also suitably doe-eyed in his performance of "If Ever I Would Leave You" by Frederick Loewe which features in the 1969 film adaption of Camelot.
The programme is bookended by Korngold, whose work makes another appearance at the end of the concert. Kate Lindsay only appears for one number at the end of the show but leads a powerful rendition of "Tomorrow" from The Constant Nymph with all the musical forces on stage, including the Albert Hall's mighty organ, in tow.
Mikaela Bennett charms the audience with "It's Magic" from Jule Styne's Romance on the High Seas and she delights in delivering one of the orchestra's two encores, Loewe's "I Could Have Danced All Night".
The orchestra also gives a nod to one of the more recent outputs from Warner Brothers with the enchanting Harry Potter Suite - Harry's Wondrous World by John Williams to finish. Those in attendance are treated to a perfect blend of the big hits and hidden gems of incidental film music and movie musical numbers.
Subtle video design above the orchestra complements the music being played below, from the blue oceanic hues with a suite of music from The Old Man and the Sea, to flowing red silk to for the main title by Alex North from A Streetcar Named Desire - which notably features some truly filthy glissandos from the reed instrumentalists.
Excellent programme notes by David Benedict give context to the film narratives portrayed on stage under John Wilson's baton. His love for the genre by his colleagues and him is very evident.
Toes were tapping in the stalls, the boxes, the gallery and even the promenaders struggled to stand still at the joyous presentation on stage. The John Wilson Orchestra once again make an excellent contribution to the BBC Proms season with their majestic presentation of music from the golden age of film.
Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou