Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New production of "Private Lives" at Richmond Theatre.

My video review of "Private Lives" at Richmond Theatre and on tour:

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Genius of John Williams

Film music has filled the gap caused by much modern classical music eschewing melody and good tunes. With  a few exceptions modern "serious" composers write impenetrable, discordant, inaccessible noise. But for the movies this won't do, thank God. For years John Williams has been a composer of extraordinary genius and last night's concert showed that his work transfers happily to the Concert Hall. What we heard was fifteen self-contained musical "movements" constructed from the music Williams wrote for about twelve films. Some of them, perhaps expanded a little, could be effective "Classical" works in their own right - a movement from a violin Concerto ("Schindler's List) or a pastoral symphony ("Far and Away") perhaps. 

We are in "Crossover" country here to some extent. That world of light classical music that is melodic, tuneful, exciting and more. Williams genius, and why the likes of Steven Spielberg so revere him, is his ability to make the music fit the pictures and enhance the experience for the viewer. That is actually different from listening to the music in a concert situation where the music alone has to work for the audience. My guess is that the orchestrations/compilations we heard last night were not actually by Williams (although strongly based on his orchestrations of course) and that somebody else took the film scores and made concert pieces of them. Nothing wrong with that!

The two non Film pieces (Fanfares for the Statue of Liberty centennial and for the Los Angeles Olympics) shows that had he chosen to Williams could have made a career as a very good classical composer. But he chose the movies, and they chose him. And his legacy is a body of work that will make him perhaps the greatest Film composer of all time. With a world class orchestra playing the pieces (the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is certainly that) the crossover was complete. A marvellous concert.