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Royal Albert Hall, London

Just a day before the 50th anniversary of the death of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, the Proms commemorated his collaboration with composer Richard Rodgers on a sequence of musicals that have proved to be among the most durable in the genre's history. Their five most famous shows were remembered here, plus the less familiar Flower Drum Song.

Consisting of a sequence of hit numbers providing almost too much enjoyment at one go – like being presented with an entire box of expensive chocolates to be eaten within 90 minutes – this event also offered a chance to hear live the glamorous, large-scale orchestral arrangements made for the film versions of the original stage shows. These luscious scorings of Rodgers's superb melodies add an extra and entrancing dimension to their sure-fire appeal. Masterly in technical skill and emotional effect, the results represent one of the artistic peaks of Hollywood in its golden age.

Five vocalists took part. Julian Ovenden will surely take further his exploration of the dysfunctional Billy Bigelow in Carousel – though his Soliloquy is already off to a good start. He was well partnered in extracts from Oklahoma! by Sierra Boggess. Anna-Jane Casey shimmered her way stylishly through the wildly un-PC sentiments of nightclub singer Linda Low in Flower Drum Song. Rod Gilfry's fine baritone sounded splendid in the Ezio Pinza numbers from South Pacific, while Kim Criswell remains the master of the art of putting over a song, even the hackneyed Climb Ev'ry Mountain.

John Wilson's conducting combined the neat address of a nice young doctor with a perfect bedside manner and the debonair flair of a matinee idol. He drew a fabulous quality of sound from his outstanding handpicked orchestra.

Rating: 5/5

George Hall
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3 years ago | | Read Full Story
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