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RSNO Hollywood Classics

Thursday 10th September
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

This was great! I have to say, I love film music. I find it much more accessible and moving than (most) general classical music - probably because of the associated story and images, I suppose. Whatever, it works for me! Always good to play or to hear it live.

I'm always a rather disappointed at how quiet orchestras are in the GRCH - since I've rarely seen an orchestra elsewhere, I don't know if it's an orchestra thing, or just the venue. I have heard others say the acoustics are not great there. And of course even 30-odd violins can't make much noise anyway *g*. I always feel the wind band is a louder sort of ensemble.

The programme opened with the music you get at the start of loads of films - is it the MGM theme? Which led into (what else?) Star Wars. The conductor (David Danzmayr, who had an excellent Austrian accent) informed us that the first three were the three best film scores of all time as voted for by the Academy - Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia and Gone With The Wind.

Then came Danny Elfman's music for the original Batman film - I love anything at all by Danny Elfman - one of my favourite composers.

This was followed by the British première of the end credits to the most recent Star Trek film. It wasn't the re-working of the Original Series theme, rather, it was the new material that comes after that, and which features throughout the film. I enjoyed that!

Then, The Godfather - not the well known theme, but other parts of the score.

This was followed by Ennio Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe, which was used in the film The Mission, but is better known as a work in it's own right. The conductor was explaining that the protagonists in the film went to see a tribe in the South American Jungle, "and they had weapons, like wifes</i> - this of course set everyone laughing and the conductor had a fit of the giggles. He mean "knifes" of course...

The first half finished with music from Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End, prior to which the orchestra appeared to all being clearing their throats (they had to sing a sea shanty) but which surreptitiously turned into lots of "Arrr!"s. Mostly from the brass section... Our conductor, Kevin, who plays trumpet for the RSNO, always likes to practice his "Arrr!" when we play Pirates!

The second half started with Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter. There was an elderly couple in front of us, and when it started the lady said to her husband in a loud whisper, "It's Hedge-wig's Theme! Hedge-wig's an owl!"

This was followed by a James Bond medley. There was a bass guitar for this one, which pleased me! Malcolm MacFarlane, whom I had the pleasure of meeting earlier in the summer at the Glasgow Jazz Festival Summer School, had been drafted in on guitar for this (and a couple of other numbers). He of course got the classic James Bond theme as a muted low string guitar solo.

Next up was For The Love Of A Princess from the Braveheart film, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful piece. Let's not think too much about the film and its historical inaccuracies, not least of which said princess was only a baby at the time...

A tenor saxophone was now brought on, just for one piece - The Pink Panther. She had a beautiful smooth and soft tone, but it was without a doubt the most classical saxophone sound I have ever heard! The whole piece was actually very smooth - I expected a slightly rawer edge.

In contrast, they then played the music from Psycho, of which everyone knows the screechy violins at the shower bit. The conductor was telling us how chilling it was, and how one reviewer said he couldn't even have a shower after the concert. In this instance however, most of the audience burst into muffled laughter when the infamous moment came - it's just too clichéd! I don't think that was the reaction they were aiming for... And it also wasn't very loud, so sounded a bit half-hearted, which didn't help.

The next piece was a classical favourite, one of the great pieces of British classical music - Elgar's Enigma Variations (Nimrod), as used in the film Australia apparently. The conductor told us that he'd heard it once when young and had never been able to find out what it was until he came to conduct the RSNO and heard them play it. I find this hard to believe for a professional conductor, even if they're not British. Is it really so little known elsewhere?

The concert concluded with Dam Buster, which is a great piece of music. It is in some ways very similar to some of Eric Coates other works, such as Calling All Workers and London Every Day, evoking images of busy, stoic wartime Britian as well as soaring Lancaster bombers. (I have certain imagery irreconcilably stuck to certain music in my head - for example, Jupiter, from Holst's Planets Suite always brings to my mind images of bustling, busy people in industrial Glasgow in the height of the shipbuilding days because it was used in a promotional video for the Glasgow Garden Festival back in 1987).

Comments

(Anonymous)
Oct. 13th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
FIlm music...
The GRCH is a lousy place to hear any orchestra. What you need to hear is the BBC Scottish Symhpony Orchestra in their Christmas at the Movies show at City Halls - talk about technicolour for the ears!

S

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