Nobody does it better…

 The combination of stollen, plum pudding and sprouts had taking their toll, I needed respite. It came From Russia with Love, played by the London Concert Orchestra, who provided terrific post-glutton festive entertainment with The Music of Bond (Barbican), a celebration of the UK’s most famous secret service agent, best known as 007. An afternoon of music and songs that took us on a voyage through all those iconic tunes that are now so enshrined in our musical psyche. Conductor John Rigby looked dapper in his colourful attire and the orchestra similarly gleamed like a Goldfinger as they punched out Diamonds are Forever. Singer Gemma Sutton is no Shirley Bassey but she certainly wowed this audience with a sparkling rendition.

I tried to recall how many of the 26 Bond movies (beginning with Doctor No in 1962 and most recently Spectre in 2015) and actors I could name. While I did that the orchestra romped through several others from that humdinger of a discography including For Your Eyes Only, Live and Let Die and the much-underestimated Skyfall. The interval sparked the audience into a heated debate as several mildly inebriated concert goers engaged in a meaningless pursuit of the “best 007 and the best film”. One particularly opinionated lady was so determined to make her point she slipped and fell, spilling her shaken not stirred Martini all over a posse of Bond doppelgängers.

It was that kind of event, a fun filled action packed show with a fizzy atmosphere. Projected imagery was also effectively used to indelibly leave a lasting impression of a brand that is right up there with the Royals and Big Ben. Yes nobody does it better.

Meanwhile Magdalena Praxiou also enjoyed festive fayre at The Barbican

The Best of John Williams, again with the London Concert Orchestra, conducted by Anthony Inglis, was a stellar event! The musicianship throughout was superb. The well-known film scores really roused the audience, though that is a bit of a misnomer as almost all of Williams’ music is immediately recognisable as his. Superman, E.T., Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and of course the totemic Star Wars, during which Darth Vader and Stormtroopers made an appearance. Inglis also gave us a very amusing running commentary with a quasi stand-up routine which included donning various bits of the iconic costumes. A real hoot, the dark side made good!

And Lucia Jiardinelli (with 4-year-old goddaughter Laura) are smitten…

Cadogan Hall recently played host to a cheerful Christmas show combining music from Disney’s Frozen, a reading of Paddington Bear’s First Christmas, all rounded off with a screening of Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas. It began with a medley of orchestral arrangements. Alice Mackenzie was a very good lead vocalist. Philip Mackenzie did a wonderful job both as conductor and jovial raconteur. The next part of the programme was the narration of ‘Paddington Bear’s First Christmas’, The storytelling of ever popular Sir Trevor McDonald was enhanced by the accompanying music delivered by the Mozart Symphony Orchestra, and it was a delight to hear the themes of the narration echoed in the pieces of music. After the interval, the animated short film ‘Father Christmas’ was projected onto a screen with the orchestra playing the soundtrack. The voice actors for Father Christmas himself and his collection of animals were lively and brilliantly in sync with the actions portrayed on the screen. A great show for families with children at the lower end of the suggested age range. Laura wanted to adopt Paddington.

Finally Priscilla Pernod appreciates a class act…

The English National Ballet’s Swan Lake (London Coliseum) is a post-Christmas treat that is atmospheric and at times quite mesmerising, especially when the corps de ballet dance in a nuanced and beautifully disciplined formation. Designer Peter Framer adds layers of ethereal magic to it all and without giving anything away (you still have a chance to enjoy it) the beginning of Act IV is spellbinding, with something of the Arthurian legend about it. As Prince Siegfried Isaac Hernández leaps like a gazelle and brings a certain joie de vivre to the role while Jurgita Dronina is brilliant in her portrayals of both Odette and Odile, two very contrasting characters. Again her jumps are mighty and her fouettés are as crisp as the night air. Wonderfully elegant and strong. Derek Deane, a ubiquitous and inventive choreographer, keeps it tight but there are still passages of absolute delight making this production – the rousing Tchaikovsky music is unforgettable – one that brings life anew to an indisputable classic.


Barbican –

Cadogan Hall –

Swan Lake – 020 7845 9300


Barney Efthimiou

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