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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Fantasia at the Royal Albert Hall

 I enjoyed a day trip to London by myself to see the film Fantasia with a live orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall as I was off and the kids back at school. I had chosen a seat in a Loggia Box at the side so wasn't too sure what to expect as I knew I had paid a bit less for a slightly restricted view. To my pleasant surprise I felt the view was very good. The sides of the cinema screen were slightly obscured by a pillar and a curtain but as most of the film wasn't in wide-screen it made no difference to my viewing. The box included eight seats, a table at the back, a place for coats and I shared it with three families/couples. I had a clear view of the orchestra and the view really worked for me. The size and scale of the Royal Albert Hall as a venue is incredible and really has to be experienced to be believed.

It had been a long time since I had seen Fantasia and I had forgotten the beauty of the contrasting scenes. The first half contained quite a few calming pieces of music with fairies and as beautiful as these were I found them a bit too relaxing! Coffee was required in the interval! I thought the section which animated the story of Night on Bald Mountain was very well-done both with the power of the orchestra and watching the scene on the big screen. Fantasia has its fair share of surreal scenes such as when the whales swim in the sky but I was very impressed by the animation of this scene which looked very modern for a film which was originally made in 1941!

The film included an interval for refreshments, unusually I haven't seen any Disney merchandise at these film showings. During the second half Mickey finally appeared in his cameo as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, this seemed to focus the kids in the audience who like a good story and might have struggled with some of the other less narrative scenes. For me the most enjoyable part was watching Donald and Daisy Duck in the story of Noah herding animals into the ark to the tune of 'Land of Hope and Glory'. What more apt place to hear a live orchestra playing this tune than the Royal Albert Hall! We just needed flags and it could have been the 'Last Night of the Proms'. As it was it was obscure and playful and fun, which pretty much sums up this enjoyable afternoon's entertainment.

This is the second Disney film that I have seen in concert this year as my daughter and I went to the Jungle Book in Concert at the Barbican in the summer. I think I preferred this one as the whole soundtrack could be performed by the orchestra however both were a great way into live orchestral music for all ages. Fantasia contains so many well known classical pieces in different styles and shows the journeys that the imagination can take through music.

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