Cole Porter’s music and lyrics very much reflect a bygone age of lightness of touch in their approach. The best of the music perfectly matches the often very witty lyrics. Some are profound; some definitely are double entendre in their meaning while others are just great and witty and light and frothy. Most of his hit songs were written in the 1930’s and 40’s and as the helpful, free programme note says, Porter was one of the Tin Pan Alley composers to have written both music and lyrics.
Most of the other great’s like Rogers and Hammerstein of ‘Sound of Music’ fame were partnerships. Not so Cole Porter – and that is what makes him great – it was him and him alone that we should be thankful for producing hits like Night and Day, Begin the Beguine and I Get a Kick Out of You. He is peerless in this genre and therefore the Sydney Philharmonia and Choirs are to be congratulated on putting on this celebration concert. Why? Because Porter’s songs are a bit neglected these days and a younger generation deserves to hear them.
What of the concert? It was very much an ensemble affair. Four soloists who are young rising stars and the Philharmonia and Choirs. It was a well planned concert mixing some orchestral pieces with solos, duets and quartets and of course the choirs. It would be pointless to say the performance of this song was better than that because really the concert should be view in one sweep. Everyone played their parts. That said, if pressed the best two performances where Begin the Beguine and Night and Day – but this might be because they are probably Porter at his best. Of the soloists they were all good, but Rob Mallet, Baritone was the best. The choirs were great but it could be said their actual size was probably too big for this sort of music. It reminded me of the old style Messiah choirs. Because of this the four soloists had to be microphoned, otherwise, if they had not been they might not have been heard.
Finally the Philharmonia was in great shape. Great string tone and Cole’s music kept the percussionists busy! Brett Weymark conducted well and clearly enjoyed himself. Indeed this was what this concert was about – enjoyment!