Review: The Snowman and Peter & The Wolf, Colston Hall

19 12 2012

The stories of The Snowman and Peter & The Wolf are two childhood favourites that were brought vividly to life at Colston Hall thanks to a live soundtrack by the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera and the narration of Tamsin Greig.

An Olivier Award-winning stage actress, Greig is best known for her roles in two Channel 4 dramas, Black Books and Green Wing.

Other than making rather an inappropriate comment about why a child was lying on the floor, Greig held proceedings together well, telling us that the hall we were in on Wednesday evening was 140 years old and that there were only 140 hours to go until Christmas.

The Snowman is a bona fide Christmas classic. This year, a new Snowman tale is appearing on our screens, but it will have to go some way to match the magic of the original, which tells the story of a little boy who builds a snowman, who takes him on a magical adventure before the warmth of the sun gets the better of him.

Raymond Briggs’ tale is a well-known one, as is the music by Howard Blake which was performed with aplomb, conducted by Neil Thomson and with a solo of Walking in the Air by a young singer whose voice cracked slightly but was nonetheless reminiscent of the most famous singer of the song, Aled Jones.

After the interval, Greig returned to the microphone to announce the instruments in the orchestra for their respective parts in Sergei Prokofiev’s masterpiece, and then tell the tale of Peter, the wolf and the assorted other animals.

It was a delightful way for the young audience to be introduced to oboes and bassoons as well as violins, cellos and double basses, as different instruments played the parts of different animals in the story.

What was especially interesting to see was the musicians themselves, the brass section loud and boisterous, the strings more refined.

A marvellous evening’s entertainment then, as an introduction both to Christmas and to classical music.


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