THE RSNO Christmas Concert has, in recent years, been something of a one-man show. But with the all-purpose Christopher Bell’s recent departure, what was the RSNO to do? The answer? Bring in a double act – straight man Matthew Hamilton as conductor, and the inoffensive comic charisma of Scots singer and presenter Jamie MacDougall
RSNO Christmas Concert, Caird Hall, Dundee ****
It certainly worked in Dundee, where the compatibility of the twosome resulted in a slick, fun-for-all-the-family sequence of Christmas musical treats, audience singalongs and the kind of patter from MacDougall that was as cosy and sentimental as mince pies and mulled wine.
And there was Leroy Anderson, Christmas’ No 1 composer, whose exploding cocktail of Yuletide themes, A Christmas Festival, opened the show like a musical party popper, and whose Sleigh Ride got the audience singing when they weren’t even meant to be.
As for looking the part, the RSNO sections had gone to extraordinary lengths to outdo each other, the prize, according to MacDougall, going to the second violins for their extravagant costuming as characters from The Nutcracker.
If the sound of children singing is the genuine Christmas article, we had it in spades from the RSNO Junior Chorus, with Bob Chilcott’s animated Hey! Now, and the group version of Singing in the Air a sport of the orchestra’s perennial live screening of Howard Blake’s The Snowman.
As for us, a quick Twelve Days of Christmas and Hark the Herald, and we were off with plenty good cheer. - KEN WALTON
At the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, tonight and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall tomorrow