Sunday 3 December 2023

The Most Wonderful Time



[click to embiggen]

Even on the coldest day since January, there are things that warm the cockles of the heart...

...and so it was, on Friday evening, that Madam Arcati and I shivered our way to the quirky Milton Court at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, part of the Barbican Centre complex in the City of London - for a concert by one of our favourite live artists Clare Teal, together with The BBC Singers and the BBC Concert Orchestra [not The BBC Big Band as I previously said]. It was definitely worth it!

The venue itself might only have been built in 2015, yet it's been done in a retro-Festival-of-Britain-meets-Grand Budapest Hotel style. Apart from the dead giveaway that (like every new building in the City) the outside of the building is just acres of glass, we genuinely felt like we had stepped back in time.

Speaking of "stepping back in time", the show was itself themed as Songs from the Shows, and we certainly got a gamut of those! The BBC Singers - only very recently saved from being disbanded as part of the BBC's cost-cutting drive - are, as Miss Teal described in her intro, "able to put their hand to anything". Indeed, in their almost one-hundred-year history, they've covered everything from The Last Night of the Proms to Schoenberg and Tippett, from Hildegard of Bingen to Pet Shop Boys, from Monteverdi to Laura Mvula. And so it was no surprise that they took this evening's programme of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Sondheim, Cole Porter, Bernstein, Coward and Irving Berlin (as well as some complicated jazz arrangements by Alexander L'Estrange of Christmas standards) in their stride. They are simply joyful as a combo, but they have some truly talented soloists among their number, too (shame I didn't catch their names) [UPDATE 20th December: now it's been broadcast, I am able to fill in the blanks and give credit where credit's due] - the tenors on Some Enchanted Evening [Jamie W. Hall] and Finishing the Hat [Tom Raskin], the mezzo-soprano on I Feel Pretty [Emma Tring] and the soprano on If Love Were All [Clare Lloyd Griffiths] were all stunning.

A lesser star than Clare Teal might have felt a bit outnumbered - but she is a truly generous lead singer as well as participant in an ensemble of this calibre, and, despite conductor Owain Parks and the BBC sound department's best attempts to drown her out [her mike was definitely set too low at times], she was on top form! [Considering that it was dear old Auntie Beeb who summarily cancelled her popular Sunday Night Radio 2 show - much to her (and our) dismay - it was a surprise she agreed to record this for them at all! It is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 however, so maybe Miss Teal gets on better with their management?]

Many of the classic numbers for which she is renowned were here - Hello Young Lovers, It Might as Well Be Spring, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I Got the Sun in the Mornin' (and the Moon at Night), and this one:

A magnificent evening's entertainment, indeed!


STOP PRESS: The show is now available on BBC Sounds!

13 comments:

  1. How absolutely delightful, sweetpea! xoxo

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  2. I have heard the place is quite something...and by the offering of the video, I think I like the talent too gin blossom.

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    1. The Barbican Centre's a bizarre mish-mash of brutalist architecture, a rabbit-warren of walkways and a variety of entertainments, from the gargantuan Barbican Hall to smaller performance spaces, cinemas, a vast library, bars and restaurants and an enormous tropical conservatory (which we simply must visit!). Yet another of London's gems... Jx

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  3. I love True to You in My Fashion and this was a great version. I also love the string bass daddy rockin his tits off.

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    1. Miss Teal's no Pearl Bailey but we love this version of the song, too! Jx

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  4. Fab evening, Fab to have Clare Teal back with the BBC, Fab that the BBC singers were saved from the axe, the BBC Concert Orchestra are always fab and it was fab to be at Milton Court in the Barbican Centre.

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    1. Hmmm. Not sure, but I think you thought it was "fab"... đŸ€Ł Jx

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  5. Oh, you just know I'm going to have a lovely wallow later ...
    As for the Barbican Centre...it kept quite a few comics in bread back when it was being built/first opened.
    .

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    1. My favourite observation on it was "the only great thing about having a flat in the Barbican is it's the one place in London from where you can't see the bloody Barbican!" Jx

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  6. I would have loved to have been there. I see what you mean about the volume.

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    1. The audio in that video would have been the responsibility of the organisers of the Hallé Orchestra concert - maybe there's a conspiracy going on? Jx

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  7. NOTE: I have updated the post with full credits and a link to the show on the BBC. Worth catching if you can! Jx

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