Performed by The RTE Concert Orchestra with their New Principal Conductor John Wilson
Tickets courtesy of my generous Mum while all clips are of Conductor John Wilson & his own orchestra, not the RTE Concert orchestra!
I’ll listen to classical pieces on the radio or even on CD but I would rarely be drawn to a full classical recital… unless, of course, it had something to do with the movies.
I was lucky enough to be invited to Hollywood Rhapsody at the National Concert Hall on the first night of John Wilson tenure as Principal Conductor with the RTE Concert Orchestra (though they have performed together many times in the past).
There is something special about watching the orchestra file onto the stage and take their seats. The members chat to each other and their instruments do the same producing a lively jostle of sociable sounding strings, winds, all percussive and discursive.
Conductor John Wilson arrives and the orchestra bursts into one of the most familiar of studio intros written by Alfred Newman for 20th Century Fox. (since 1979 the fanfare’s association with Star Wars is etched into my memory).
The second piece is also from Newman is called “Street Scene” from How To Marry A Millionaire. Apart from the title I have no recollection of the film but when I hear the familiar piece of music I am transported to a black and white suburban America of the 1940s/50s. I check the programme and see that the piece of music was used repeatedly for about two decades. If you have watched a handful of movies from the era you’ll recognise it as well. (even the first few bars).
There is no sign that this is John Wilson’s first night as conductor conductor and RTE Concert Orchestra play like the are old friends that they are.
They break into Bronislau Kaper’s “Confetti” from Forever Darling whose playfulness reminds me of the 1960s television series Bewitched, after a quick IMDB search (after the recital of course) I find that he did not compose that but he did compose more than half a dozen scores with which I am familiar
David Raskin’s “Laura Suite” is again another piece of music that grew more famous than the film from which it originated. Wilson and his Orchestra handle it beautifully.
The unmistakable composition “Suite for Strings” by Bernard Hermann for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho has the entire film flashing before my eyes, the score for the shower scene has the string section jabbing the air like a bunch of the titular Psychos.
For the purpose of Citizen Kane “Salambo’s Aria” was performed badly, we were not so unlucky as Wilson explains, really, it wouldn’t be fair. He and the orchestra accompanied by Venera Gimadieva‘s beautiful soprano voice through the melancholic taste of opera.
We were then treated to Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s March, Love theme, The Fight, Victory and Epilogue from The Adventures of Robin Hood which moves descriptively through each phase.
Wilson & Co. launched into Jerome Moross’s Main Title from The Big Country which seems to conjour up any western from that time. (Here is it preceded by the aforementioned 20 Century Fox Fanfare).
Before the break Max Steiner’s Suite from Casablanca had me sipping whiskey in Rick’s, shopping in the Bazaar while I nervously waited for my letters of transit.
Wilson apologised for the length of next section, a Medley of Move songs from the 1950s, it was a time when hits had suddenly become a viable money spinner. So even thought he was right about the length of this section, he was also tight to include them with the scores.
We listened to both Matthew Ford and Anna-Jane Casey‘s renditions of songs from An Affair to Remember, Something’s Gotta Give, Young At Heart, It’s Magic, The Tender Trap, My Foolish Heart, Three Coins in a Fountain, Love is a Many splendoured Thing, The Caddy and The Man Who Knew Too Much.
The only complete stranger to me was the next score by Franz Waxman for A Place in the Sun but after I had experienced the moody and alluring taster it is now firmly on my to-see list.
Wilson, the orchestra and their wonderful sound effects skills brought the audience back to child hood with the plate smashing fun of Scott Bradley’s Tom and Jerry score.
And finally we trudged to the end accompanied by the score by Miklos Roza of Ben Hur’s exhausting trek through the desert, the difference here is that we, the audience arrive, at our destination fulfilled and revitalised.
Thank you John Wilson.
Thank you RTE Concert Orchestra.
Thank you National Concert Hall.
Thank you Mum.
You can see their next film related night here – That’s Entertainment.