NOT many concerts of the light classics end with the irrepressible conductor dancing to YMCA and doing some Gangnam Style dancing.
Then again, not every light classics concert is conducted by Rainer Hersch.
Hersch, for the uninitiated, is a comedian, conductor and musician who has performed at the Edinburgh Festival and London's South Bank, and on television and radio, doing everything from stand-up comedy to a Victor Borge tribute. He is now conducting the Johann Strauss Orchestra, accompanied by the Strauss dancers in period costume and soprano Charlotte Ellett, in an entertaining show featuring works by Strauss but also Vittorio Monti (Csárdás, his best-known composition), Franz Lehar (The Merry Widow) and Tchaikovsky (Eugene Onegin). Choreography and direction are by Glasgow-born Alex Worrall.
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Like a restless showman, Hersch runs through lots of skits as he conducts the orchestra – keeping them in time by juggling balls, standing aside for a few bars, at other times inviting them to play like an inept school orchestra. This is not a show where the performers take themselves too seriously, though some Strauss purists might raise an eyebrow. At other points Hersch observed that a busker in the vicinity of the Concert Hall seemed to know only one song, and likened Ibiza to hell while introducing Strauss's Lucifer-Polka.
Ellett, whose CV includes Mozart's Requiem and Poulenc's Stabat Mater, shone on the Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus and, most pleasingly, on Vilja from The Merry Widow. The umbrellas and the thunderclap sound effects came out for Strauss's Thunder and Lighting polka. It ended with the Blue Danube, with a brief nod in the direction of YMCA. Simon Rattle, we'd love to see you do this.