The John Wilson Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Alison Kerr

four stars

The John Wilson Orchestra paid its annual visit to Glasgow on Wednesday, bringing with it its unique ability to conjure up the romance, the glamour, the sophistication and some of the fun of the MGM musical fayre. This year’s theme, Gershwin in Hollywood, couldn’t be a better match for an orchestra with such a strong jazz sensibility since the great composer was strongly influenced by the genre.

Actually, “Gershwin in Hollywood with Conrad Salinger” might have been just as apt a title for much of the show. With this orchestra you get to hear the numbers as they appeared in the original films - and in the case of many of the Gershwin songs, it was Salinger who exquisitely scored them, providing us with such Wednesday night stand-outs as How Long Has This Been Going On and They Can’t Take That Away From Me on which the seductive interplay between swooning strings and sexy brass conveyed the meaning of the songs as tenderly and clearly as the lyrics, beautifully sung by Louise Dearman and Matthew Ford respectively, had.

Ford may have shone in his vocal interpreter of the Fred Astaire songs, but it was Wilson who seemed to be channelling the elegant movie dancer, with his graceful moves on the podium.

“You’ve got to dance little lady, dance little man – dance whenever you can” went the official closing song of the evening – and it seemed to sum up the appeal of this band’s concerts. If you love your movie musicals, you’ve got to seize every opportunity to hear this stuff, performed by the best in the biz.