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Music review: Food Glorious Food

Music

Conductor and presenter Guy Noble is a charmer, and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Food Glorious Food selection of pieces at the Town Hall proved to be the same – complete with a surprise contribution from food icon Maggie Beer.

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The connection to food in this Classics Unwrapped concert may have been tenuous in some cases — ranging from the apple in Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” to composers with gross appetites — but the performances were vital and entertaining. Noble’s anecdotes helped to frame a varied program of eight works; nine if you include an encore with a twist.

That Rossini overture began seductively with lead cellist Simon Cobcroft playing, and an exquisite passage moving to combined strings and winds. This work is famous for its mix of stormy and tranquil moments, which the ASO handled brilliantly. That highly recognisable “gallop” emerged vibrant and crisply enunciated.

Some compositions were brief, and many were embellished with Noble’s entertaining anecdotes.

In Ketèlby’s “In a Persian Market”, the sometimes cliché moments were relieved by the novelty of seeing and hearing the orchestra’s members singing. Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie: No 1: Lent et grave” was lilting and pretty, with the harp and celeste both prominent, and Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks: Overture” was suitably, well, regal; pomp to the fore. The celeste was wonderfully highlighted again in Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”.

Maggie Beer originally appeared to a fanfare for her interview, an excuse for some vaguely food-related banter, but her key moment was the encore in which she “conducted” the orchestra with a pair of whisks while Noble tried out the cymbals, quietly, at the back.

This review might have been loaded with food puns — menu, recipe, courses, fare, degustation, and so on — but it’s sufficient to say that the audience was appreciative and quite replete.

The ASO’s next Classics Unwrapped concert, also conducted by Guy Noble, will be From Russia with Love on June 19. The orchestra is presenting Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on May 4.

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