Review: Last night of the Christmas Proms, Portsmouth Guildhall

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The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra can play anything. Rock, ballads, musical theatre – all that and more featured in this year’s Christmas concert.

It ranged from Spamalot to The Little Drummer Boy, from Sleigh Ride to Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody – all delivered with verve and style.

Guildhall’s stage was glitzily dressed, and players popped up with Santa hats, so the sense of fun was palpable. Not all the repertoire was obviously Christmassy but no matter. Vocal soloists Louise Dearman and honey-toned baritone Lance Ellington comically sparked off each other and her Tell Me On A Sunday and his Luck Be A Lady were proper show-stoppers.

But amid the battery of brilliant, brass-laden numbers, one quieter piece focused magically on the essence of Christmas: When A Child Is Born celebrated the miracle of birth with simple sentiment but no sentimentality. By contrast, Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire sounded unbearably twee.