Classical review: RSNO: Cole Porter Songbook, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Picture: John Devlin
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THERE ARE potentially rich box office pickings in mainstream symphony orchestras letting their hair down and giving a night over to the lighter razzmatazz of Broadway, West End or Hollywood.

RSNO: Cole Porter Songbook | Rating: **** | Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

It’s an area of repertoire that has taken on a new lease of life in recent years, with the likes of the brilliant John Wilson Orchestra - in Perth this Sunday - but Scotland’s traditional orchestras have been dipping into it with great success too.

The RSNO’s weekend tribute to the often under-sung sophistication of Cole Porter, the Harvard/Yale-educated Broadway composer born 125 years ago, was one such triumph. Featuring in this Cole Porter Songbook Anniversary Gala were two individuals well-versed in nuances of the style, British conductor Wayne Marshall and the London-based American musical entertainer and actor, Kim Criswell, equally known for her charismatic BBC Proms appearances with the John Wilson Orchestra.

Criswell took centre stage, a raunchy, larger-than-life figure who took us through, not just such immortal songs as “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “I love Paris” or “Night and Day”, but with a suave narrative that filled in the contexts and origins of Porter’s musical creations, and plenty about the man as well.

Marshall’s musical direction was cool as a cucumber, rock-steady, eliciting a warmth from the orchestra that suited the upbeat nature of the occasion.

It wasn’t as well attended as expected. Maybe Saturday was just “too darn hot’ to bring folk out of their gardens.