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Black Dyke

Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
Symphony Hall
Birmingham
Sunday 20th January 2019

stars

Black Dyke is no stranger to the stage at Symphony Hall, although the regularity of their contest and concert appearances hasn’t affected their enviable ability to attract a large audience to hear them perform.

With the Grand Tier closed off, the Queensbury band received a warm welcome from listeners drawn in considerable number to a Sunday afternoon programme of familiar favourites. 

Cynics may sneer, but the MD knows his audience and knows what they like. Symphony Hall’s accountants will also have been very well pleased. 

Operatic swagger

‘Liberty Bell’ certainly had a stylish ring about it to open, although it was the meaty, operatic swagger of ‘La Forza del Destino’ that grabbed the attention in the first half - full of intensity and dramatic vigour.

It was a brilliantly thumping reminder of the serious substance that lurks behind Dyke’s polished musical bonhomie. 

 it was the meaty, operatic swagger of ‘La Forza del Destino’ that grabbed the attention in the first half - full of intensity and dramatic vigour. 

Elsewhere it was the regular easy- listening repertoire that can sound deceptively easy, but still takes some playing to sound fresh and interesting. ‘Cornet Carillon’ remains a campanologist’s delight, ‘Fire in the Blood’ a craftily chosen first half finisher.    

All the soloists – led in exemplary fashion by Richard Marshall with an elegantly phrased ‘Melody of the Heart’, played with classy inflections of artistry and easy virtuosity.  The standard set, Siobhan Bates with ‘Celtic Promise’ in the first half, to Brett Baker (‘Sweet Hour of Prayer’), Daniel Thomas (‘Endearing Young Charms’) and Zoe Lovatt-Cooper (‘Concerto de Aranjuez’) in the second maintained it superbly.   

Reboot

That said, the ‘Black Dyke at the Movies’ segment is in need perhaps of a timely ‘Director’s Cut’ reboot, although when you can get everyone humming along to ‘633 Squadron’, toe-tapping their way though ‘Ol’ Man River’, and the waiting in expectation for the cannons to fire in ‘1812 Overture’ you sense not too many people are yearning for excepts from ‘Fast & Furious 7’ and ‘Transformers Bumblebee’.

The applause and the demands for encores told you that.

Alan Michael 

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