RSNO - Sporting Scores with Carl Davis

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Usher Hall

WHAT with Scotland having enjoyed recent successes at home and abroad in football and tennis, this programme was fortuitously well timed. Veteran commentator Archie Macpherson placed the various items in context with apt reminders of personalities and events associated with the music.

At one point he commented that it might have surprised some composers had they lived to discover where music they had written for entirely different purposes ended up. That was a theme that ran through much of the evening's entertainment. Puccini, for example, would almost certainly have looked approvingly on the exposure given to his Nessun dorma during the 1990 World Cup.

Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man was given a correct but effectively routine performance. Solo tenor Jon Christos opened his account in excellent voice with The Impossible Dream from The Man of La Mancha.

Macpherson introduced Shostakovich as a football fan by referring to Moscow Dynamo's Ibrox visit shortly after end of the Second World War. The composer's Russian River was written in 1944 for the NKVD Song and Dance Ensemble. One of the two movements that were performed depicts the teams marching out on the field of play and the other is a representation of the game itself. Well worth another hearing!

The abridged Bolero, to which Torvill and Dean made sporting history with a straight run of full marks, brought to mind an extraordinary sequence of ice-dance choreography. Bill Conti's theme from the Rocky films is remarkably self-sufficient. Tied up with Liverpool manager Bill Shankly's trenchant one-liners, You'll Never Walk Alone could not have been more adeptly packaged.

Images were projected on a large screen in front of the organ pipes throughout, at some times more effective than at others. Hans Zimmer's Gladiator Suite, for example, would have benefited from more careful attention to the visual element.

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