THE formula for Classical Spectacular could hardly be simpler. Take some of the most well loved pieces in the classical music canon, have them played by a world-class orchestra, and add a liberal helping of lights, lasers, and fireworks.
Such a recipe has obviously proved a great success, because the concerts are now in their 25th year. This show, branded “The Very Best of Classical Spectacular”, was celebratory in mood, with some of the most swaggering and uplifting pieces in the canon, typified by that classic Last Night of the Proms trio of Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem, and Rule, Britannia.
Although accessibility and audience participation is the guiding principle, the musicianship was in no way compromised. The playing was of the highest quality, as you would expect from the combined forces of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, who were joined on stage by the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir, under the baton of John Pryce-Jones.
In addition to being a conductor, Pryce-Jones was master of ceremonies, giving concise and not altogether serious introductions to the pieces of music. As a Welshman, he also had a few jokes at England’s expense regarding a certain recent rugby tournament.
Anyone who thinks classical music is boring, stuffy or elitist would soon be put right if they saw this show. Great tunes, great performances, and, thanks to the crystal clear sound quality, the quieter moments worked just as well as the louder ones. Special mention should go to the two vocal soloists, soprano Stephanie Corley, and tenor Philip O’Brien, the latter heroically hitting the high note at the end of Nessun Dorma not once, but twice for an encore.
The show ends literally with a bang for the 1812 Overture, complete with an indoor firework display. When the pyrotechnic cannons let rip for the finale, you realise Tchaikovsky could give the likes of AC/DC a run for their money any day.