A host of festive favourites, but somehow the magic of the season was missing
Ulster Orchestra. Christmas Magic, Waterfront Hall, Belfast
The Ulster Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Anthony Weeden, soloists Shona Lindsay and Michael Dore, and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir set out to create "The Magic of Christmas" for a large audience in the Waterfront Hall.
A Christmas concert can create different kinds of programmes, ranging from the secular to the essential Christmas spirit and message, or something in between.
This concert was strictly "something in between", with several carols, sung enthusiastically by the soloists, choir and audience, along with a nod to the classical world with a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Dance of the Tumblers.
This was very welcome, and well-played by the Ulster Orchestra, which can switch instantly from Russian classics to a party mood.
This was essentially a show-biz Christmas concert, with such old chestnuts as It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, the inevitable White Christmas, and even Baby, It's Cold Outside,
rightly scorning the censorship of the politically-correct brigade.
One of the concert's problems was continuity, with the lack of interaction with the audience from the podium, and it seemed a pity to confine such a talented choir as the Belfast Phil mostly to carols and something called The Polar Express.
This was a concert with standard Christmas numbers belted out loudly, rather than subtly, but with little of "The Magic of Christmas".
Certainly it was not a patch on last year's Christmas concert, for those who can remember it.