Music review: BBC SSO: Proms in the Park, Glasgow Green

The BBC SSO
The BBC SSO
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Even on a night battered by ferocious winds and typical west coast smir – the kind that surreptitiously soaks you to the skin – thousands turned out with folding chairs, dancing shoes and bonhomie to enjoy the middle-brow miscellany that is the annual Proms in the Park concert on Glasgow Green.

BBC SSO: Proms in the Park, Glasgow Green ****

At its heart, the BBC SSO under Stephen Bell rolled out quickfire lollipops, from Shostakovich’s heraldic Festival Overture to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, via Sousa’s Liberty Bell, Debussy’s Fêtes and much more.

Guests included the red-hot Celtic verve of current BBC Radio Scotland traditional musician of the year Benedict Morris and friends, Aberdonian soprano Eleanor Dennis in effusive Puccini and lighter Mozart, the scorching precision of violinist Stephanie Childress in Piazzolla’s gorgeous Oblivion and Vivaldi’s steely Winter (outer movements) from the Four Seasons and the fresh-blended voices of the Glasgow Youth Choir, supreme in a buzzing arrangement of the Skye Boat Song.

There was Barbara Dickson, too, who still garners affection from Scots audiences, but in truth sang the Eriskay Love Lilt like an old auntie doing her New Year party piece. Caravans, the song we really remember her for, had more of the old magic.

Compère Jamie MacDougall moved things super-smoothly, lending his gentle tenor to heart-stirrers such as Highland Cathedral and Loch Lomond and a sentimental Born Free. It’s a strange event, though, that almost disintegrates as the tie-in with London’s Albert Hall approaches. Good for TV but not so relevant for the live audience. Ken Walton