Hansel And Gretel

Children’s Classic Concert ****
Usher Hall, Edinburgh by Susan Nickalls

THE Children’s Classic Concerts are a fantastic vehicle to introduce young people to the classical repertoire as well as delivering entertainment in large quantities. Christmas Magic was no exception, with an action-packed programme full of sparkle and festive cheer presented and conducted by the irrepressible Christopher Bell.

Hansel and Gretel may well be a familiar fairytale, but it was given a contemporary makeover in an imaginative new CCC commission by composer Savourna Stevenson to a text by Scottish playwright Stuart Paterson. Paterson tells his story simply, with large amounts of wit and humour which blended seamlessly with the music.

Stevenson has clearly inherited her father Ronald’s considerable talents. Given that this piece could easily stand on its own musical merits, I hope this is only the beginning of her contribution to the orchestral repertoire.

Edinburgh’s Manor School of Ballet provided a stunning visual element to the hour-long concert. Performing to four scenes from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, the dancers impressed with their technique, eye-catching costumes, and imaginative choreography, given that they were confined to a small stretch of stage.

Continuing the festive theme the orchestra played Debussy’s The Snow is Dancing from The Children’s Corner collection, as well as the piece that is synonymous with any visual images of sleighs, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. Bell encouraged the children to jangle their parents’ house and car keys in time to the music, which they did, with many of them also managing to wave their luminous coloured light sticks at the same time…

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