Review: Virgin Money Fireworks Concert – Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Ross Bandstand

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Taking into account the wet summer we have experienced, it is surprising that evening events over the three weeks of the Festival have been remarkably free of rain.

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Wind and weather are always uppermost in our minds as we make the annual trek along Princes Street to the Ross Bandstand for what is generally reckoned to be the world’s best fireworks display. With no more than a light westerly breeze, yesterday evening brought favourable conditions.

As we await the first bang, thoughts range back over the performances we have attended. Everyone has a different perspective of what has been on offer. For those of us who reach back to earliest days, the main focus may seem gradually to have shifted from the “official” Festival to the Fringe and that thought inevitably gives rise to some polarisation of opinion.

These considerations apart, it is good that the music for this year’s concluding event was chosen partly to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and also to reflect the Festival’s Shakespearian performances.

Having composed Crown Imperial for the 1937 coronation of King George VI, it was appropriate that Walton should be invited to follow up with Orb and Sceptre in 1953.

In both its military opening and conclusion a kaleidoscope of bright colours exploded above, and the contrasting music of the middle section of the march was appropriately reflected by some gentler shades.

The folksong Greensleeves was around in Shakespeare’s time and that is undoubtedly why it turned up in Vaughan Williams’s opera Sir John in Love. It was portrayed mainly in greens.

Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet has been represented in previous fireworks displays. The lumbering Montagues and Capulets opening movement from the ballet’s 2nd Suite set things in motion, and there followed a dazzlingly varied series of synchronized musical and visual effects.

Even though Laurence Olivier’s Henry V film drew some wartime criticisms about propaganda, its nationalism did no harm at all in 1944. The traditionally expected waterfall effect came during its Death of Falstaff music.

Garry Walker and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra carefully followed all that issued forth from the ramparts.