The John Wilson Orchestra – a yearly highlight of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall for many – are currently out on tour with a show dedicated to the music of Cole Porter. As the affable Wilson himself pointed out in this, the fiftieth anniversary year of Porter’s death, Porter is a rare example from that era of a composer who also wrote the lyrics to his music. Indeed, Porter’s stable of shows have a wit and charm to them, from the musical comedy classic Anything Goes to High Society and Kiss Me Kate, the latter of which Wilson staged at the Proms earlier this year. Porter’s film scores have been transcribed by arranger and archivist Wilson and the orchestral arrangements are sumptuously rich – and how often do you get a chance to hear this music played by something like a 70-piece orchestra as here?

Wilson has chosen a varied programme of Porter music which is a mixture of the very well known and the lesser known – typically, he introduces us to such seldom heard numbers as ‘You Can Do No Wrong’ which was sung on film by no less a star than Judy Garland, and the title track from the Gene Kelly film Les Girls. Wilson’s guest singers have equally different sounds and voices too. Current Forbidden Broadway star Anna Jane Casey – a musical comedy star in the line of Ethel Merman with a crystal clear vocal line – raises the roof with Anything Goes’ ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ while toning things down for a delightful version of ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’. Stylish jazz and standards singer Matthew Ford brings his big band singer sound to ‘Easy to Love’ and duets with Casey on several standout numbers including ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ and another fun Anything Goes number ‘You’re The Top’. Recent A Chorus Line star Scarlett Strallen brought her melodic tones to a sultry version of ‘Begin the Beguine’ and a great comedy number about ‘Men’. And the more operatic sound of Richard Morrison provided a well-judged ‘Night and Day’, while joining forces with Strallen for a sweet-toned ‘True Love’ from High Society in addition to a Kiss Me Kate section.

But it’s that vast orchestra (under the baton of Wilson himself) that is the real star of this show. They shine throughout, following a playful overture with solo ballet numbers from The Pirate and Silk Stockings. It’s fascinating to watch the different sections playing off one another at different times, from the magnificent sweep of the strings, seated at the front of the stage, to the playful percussion and the jazz-infused tones of the brass and woodwind sections. They’re all clearly in their element. As for Wilson himself, he is in total command and is a personable host (indeed, even more chat would have been welcome, especially in setting up the lesser known numbers). Both Wilson and his fantastic orchestra are seemingly unstoppable – and for those unlucky enough to miss them on tour, their Proms staging of another Porter musical, Kiss Me Kate, will be on BBC TV this Christmas. Don’t miss it.