Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert at Portsmouth Guildhall

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On paper it looked an imaginative variation on a Christmas theme, with a fairy-story link. In practice it proved lop-sided.

The unqualified success was The Selfish Giant, Debbie Wiseman’s musical version of an Oscar Wilde story, conducted by her and played with relish by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

In the giant’s melody on galumphing trombones, tuba, bassoons and other bass instruments, and in the beautiful flute song evoking a linnet, Ms Wiseman both embraced the descriptively obvious and wrapped it in an imaginative cloak.

Young French conductor Maxime Tortelier took charge for the remainder of the concert, whose second half was devoted to music from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker ballets.

That may have looked a bright idea on paper, the seasonable music brimming with genius. But 50 minutes of episodic dance music without the dancing can become a bit like Christmas dinner without a main course, and the playing was often frenetic.