Music review: BBC SSO: Christmas at the Movies, City Halls, Glasgow

The BBC SSO Christmas at the Movies concert had not a B movie in it. Picture: John Wood
The BBC SSO Christmas at the Movies concert had not a B movie in it. Picture: John Wood
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WHAT makes a Christmas movie? Is it simply a movie about Christmas? A bit of black and white nostalgia? Or simply a film that fosters that feelgood factor we all crave at this time of year?

BBC SSO: Christmas at the Movies, City Halls, Glasgow ****

We got all of these and more in the BBC SSO’s Christmas at the Movies concert last Saturday, with the personable Jamie MacDougall as singer-presenter and conductor-arranger Roderick Dunk in slick charge of the orchestra.

What seemed like a long playlist flashed by with effortless glitz, from the dubious seasonal opener of Bernstein’s overture to West Side Story to the treacly goo of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, MacDougall crooning the latter as if old Bing had inhabited his soul and put his feet up by the fire.

Among the oldies were Korngold’s swashbuckling music for The Sea Hawk, some homely 1950s extracts from Three Cases of Murder and a Doris Day number from The Pyjama Game, and the inevitable sugary sweetness of the Christmas Eve finale of It’s a Wonderful Life.

MacDougall, after a good-intentioned Michael Caine impersonation, conjured up the Sixties with Quincy Jones’ On Days Like This from the original Italian Job. It has so many “la-la-las” in the lyrics, you wondered if he’d forgotten his lines.

He took us up-to-date, too, calling out numbers from Frozen, Batman, Mary Poppins Returns and Toy Story. Dunk inspired Tinseltown razzmatazz from the SSO. Not a B-movie in sight.

KEN WALTON