PCO Review – Music from the Palm Court:
A bright and very clear Palm Sunday afternoon greeted concert-goers as they made their way to the Platform venue to savour the Promenade Concert Orchestra’s latest musical offerings from the Palm Court heyday of live light music-making. It has become a trade mark of this fine orchestra, under the enthusiastic tutelage of founder-conductor Howard Rogerson, to provide carefully constructed programmes containing variety and originality as well as familiar melodic charm and this very enjoyable concert was certainly no exception.
The first half commenced with a dramatic operatic overture in the Weber/early Wagner tradition –Die Felsenmuhle von Estalieres by Reissiger – and ended with a relatively early but characteristically tuneful and well-crafted work by Eric Coates – Suite: From the Countryside. In between these two slightly more substantial pieces came some musical gems, several of which gave individual members of the orchestra the opportunity to shine – and, along with an occasional hint of Spring, this was to be one of the themes of the afternoon. Of particular note was the hauntingly beautiful, folk tune-inspired Celtic Lament by J. H. Foulds with a memorable ‘cello solo by Bob Buller, an arrangement of the Valse des Fleurs showpiece for two flutes by Kohler in which the solo parts were expertly played by Christine Lorriman and Suzanne de Lozey, and the gently melodious and wistful suite from the TV commissioned Victorian Kitchen Garden by Paul Reade, in which clarinettist Janet Barlow and harpist Maxine Molin (about whom more later) excelled.
An arrangement of the military march, The Mad Major, by Alford got the second half off to a rousing start, and before the well orchestrated selection of popular tunes from Jerome Kern’s Roberta, including Smoke gets in your Eyes, which brought the concert to a happy conclusion, the always appreciative audience received several more musical treats. Of special mention, Christopher Irvin’s recently composed and very pleasing Valse – Springtime Saunter was performed for the first time, with the composer present, whilst The Violin Song, a beautiful arrangement of Paul Rubens’ Play to Me (from Tina), featured Leader Julian Cann in intricate and masterly interplay with the orchestra. In addition, Maxine Molin, suitably attired, produced some brilliant harp playing in the quirky and entertaining Baroque Flamenco for solo harp by Deborah Henson-Conant. Even the seagulls up above declared their appreciation!
Another successful performance, therefore, by the Promenade Concert Orchestra in their penultimate concert of the 2017-18 season – which contained splendid ensemble and sectional playing as well as the solo playing already mentioned – while Conductor Howard Rogerson’s oversight of proceedings was as insightful, innovative and informative as usual. If you have not yet had the good fortune of attending a PCO concert you still have the chance to support Morecambe’s own orchestra in the current season – on Sunday May 20th.