The Russian Spectacular, King's Lynn

This concert by the Central Band of the White Russian Army with guest artists certainly lived up to its billing.

This concert by the Central Band of the White Russian Army with guest artists certainly lived up to its billing.

The band is based in the Belarus republic. It was jointly conducted by Col Mikhail Bersan, chief conductor and inspector of Belarus military band service, and the band's chief conductor, Lt Col Alexander Federov. Both showed an uninhibited sense of fun as they involved the audience in many of the works.

Opening with Dunayevsky's Russian March, we were given selections from East and West including Freddie Mercury's Bohemian Rhapsody, works by Chachaturian, Hooked on Classics, several Russian items and Sousa's Stars and Stripes, concluding with Tchaikovsky1912 Overture, complete with battle smoke.

Compared with British military bands the playing was, at times, somewhat coarse and very loud – but then I was sitting only three rows from the front.

There were outstanding contributions from the solo flute, solo trumpet and the saxophone quartet, particularly in the more "jazzy" items such as the encore In The Mood.

Guest soloists included an unnamed soprano whose sustained high D at the end of Voices of Spring was a brilliant display of vocal production and breath control.

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Balalaika player from the Bolshoi Marina Ilyina gave a dazzling display of her abilities notably Kalynka, while four young dancers in national costume from the Bellarussian National Folk Dance Academy took the breath away with their gymnastic leaps and twirls.

I'm sure all members of Monday's near-capacity audience will make every effort to be at the Russian Spectacular due to be staged on November 25 next year.

David Johnson

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