Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Best of the Beatles

What do you do with The Beatles?  "Best of" can be a misnomer as each listener has their own definition of "best" and their favourite tunes.  A fact that was not ignored and even acknowledged by a member of Rajaton saying that he hoped peoples favourites were included in the show.

But let's go back a step.  The TSO Pops season opened with Finnish guest vocal group Rajaton in an evening of Beatles music.  Known for their acappella work, Rajaton were mostly accompanied by the fine Toronto Symphony, except for "Lady Madonna" in the second half and "Eleanor Rigby" as an encore.  It seemed an odd choice for an encore as it's not a very happy ending to the evening.  Although as a vocal showcase it was impressive.  As it turned out, "Let It Be" was a second encore which actually concluded the evening.

Principal Pops Conductor, Steven Reineke's approach to the Beatles was to program the album Sgt.
Steven Reineke
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
 in its entirety as the first half.  The second half featured a selection of number one hits.  The Sgt. Pepper era is not my favourite of the Beatles music.  A lot of the songs from the album I don't know.  I enjoyed "When I'm 64" which was probably my favourite.  "With a Little Help from My Friends" will always remind me of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2009 performance at the National Arts Centre gala, a year after he won re-election with a minority government.  Not that I was there but it made the papers and, as with everything else, it's on youtube.

Features from the second half included "Yesterday" (interesting to hear with a slight Finnish accent), "Ticket to Ride", "She Loves You", "Penny Lane", "All You Need is Love", and "Hey Jude".  The transition between these last two was great with the trumpets picking up the "Hey Jude" tune.  I probably will never understand the appeal of that song, but it did get the audience singing.  Rajaton had tried to get us clapping along earlier and it worked briefly but then fizzled.

As always the orchestra wasn't left out.  The evening opened with what I believe was Reineke's arrangement titled "Ed Sullivan Welcomes the Beatles".  It was a medley of the five songs the Beatles played on his show in February 1964, "All My Loving", "Till There Was You" (apparently they didn't know this was Meredith Willson's song from The Music Man until much later and never sang anything from Broadway again), "She Loves You", "I Saw Her Standing There", and "I Want to Hold Your Hand".  The orchestra also opened the second act with "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da".

There were some audience members who had also been at Maple Leaf Gardens when the Beatles played Toronto in September 1964.  50 years later, the appeal of their music has clearly not waned.