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 Shakespeare's music of love and war

Shakespeare would have been beaming with pride at the performance last Sunday, by the Milton Keynes City Orchestra, of four pieces inspired by his tragedies, histories and comedies. The highlight of the evening was the  rarely performed tone poem, written by Sir Edward Elgar, which portrays the descent into drunken poverty of that likeable rogue, Sir John Falstaff. The orchestra played with a brilliance that would hardly be excelled anywhere else and conductor Hilary Davan Wetton's love of English music shone through the performance. Inevitably the star was principal bassoonist John Whitfield, who presented the debauched knight with relish and humour.   Earlier in the concert the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, as painted by Tchaikovsky, showed the orchestra in fine form, with the love theme memorably played by the cor anglais and violas. Soloists Cheryl Hawkins and Joanne Churcher were joined by the talented chamber choir from Dame Alice Harper School in the delicious romp through Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, complete with braying donkey and flittering fairy music. Falstaff made another appearance in the two moving excerpts from Walton's music for the film Henry V. This was music-making of the very highest quality and the knowledgeable audience showed their appreciation in the prolonged applause after each of these delicious works.

Reviewer:  Roy Tipping


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