United Kingdom Bliss, J. Williams, Goldsmith, Horner, Giaccchino, Grainer, Philips, Rabin: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ Pete Harrison (conductor), The Lighthouse, Poole, 13.2.2016 (IL)Sir Arthur Bliss – Things to Come (March)
John Williams – Star Wars (Main Theme), Lost in Space, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Across the Stars – Love Theme), War of the Worlds, E.T. (Suite), Superman – Main Title
Jerry Goldsmith – Alien, Star Trek (Nemesis – End Titles)
James Horner – Apollo 13, Aliens, Avatar (War)
Michael Giacchino – Star Trek XI (Hella Bar Talk/Enterprising Young Men), Star Trek into Darkness (London Calling)
Stu Philips – Battleship Galactica
Trevor Rabin – Armageddon
Ron Grainer/Gold – Dr Who (Theme – new version)
Back in Hollywood’s Golden Age (the 1930s, 40’s and into the 1950s) music for the cinema was largely grand Late Romantic orchestral material written by pioneering film music composers like: Max Steiner, Korngold, Waxman and Tiomkin et al. (many of them refugees from Nazi Germany). Their music used the system of leitmotifs beloved of Wagner and Richard Strauss. In 1936 Bliss wrote his celebrated score for the British sci-fi film Things to Come based on the book by H.G.Wells. Bliss later developed a concert suite from his score and the stirring March from it was included in this Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra concert performed for an enthusiastic audience in a sell-out hall.
Later these grandiose orchestral scores fell out of favour until they were put back on the map by John Williams and especially for the sci-fi films of that era, notably the original 1977 Star Wars film, the main title music of which was rapturously received by the Bournemouth fans. John Williams in an interview with this reviewer explained how he had been influenced not only by the pioneering Hollywood film composers but also by Bliss, Elgar and Walton.
The BSO’s concert was conducted by erudite Pete Harrison who also introduced all the items. His selection of music from leading sci-fi scores was imaginative and intelligent to embrace many moods from the heroic and bombastic to the elegiac and romantic. Not surprisingly there was great emphasis on the work of John Williams. The better known and popular favourites such as E.T., Star Wars, and Superman need no comment other than they were delivered and received with great fervour. I was a bit disappointed that more music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (my favourite Williams score and apparently Harrison’s too) was not included. What was included was John William’s delightful tongue-in-cheek music for one of his very early films, Lost in Space. Moving forwards there was the beautiful love music for Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, a romantic interlude overcast by hints of the menace of the Dark Side. For the 2005 film The War of the Worlds loosely based, again, on the H.G. Wells story, John Williams music was clearly influenced by the ‘Mars’ movement of Holst’s The Planets.
John Williams together with Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner (who sadly died last year) were classified as A list film composers. Their flair and skill is very evident in comparison with so many others in this field. Jerry Goldsmith ‘s film music is for very varied films and the number of his scores is vast. Probably his earliest sci-fi score was for the TV series The Twilight Zone in 1959. The music from Alien and Star Trek is typical of his quality work. James Horner’s music for the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission was suitably nobly elegiac but his Avatar music to my ears seemed somewhat lost in attempting to find a convincing style for James Cameron’s extraordinary film.
At Film Music on the Web we looked with interest at the career development of Michael Giacchino whose early scores for video games impressed us for their skill and imagination. It was no surprise when his career blossomed and it was announced that he would be working in association with John Williams. His music certainly impressed the Bournemouth audience and I was particularly attracted to his imaginatively orchestrated cue ‘London Calling’ from Star Trek into Darkness.
Of the remaining items, Trevor Rabin’s music for Armageddon was exciting enough, Ron Grainer’s Dr Who music was a very familiar favourite but I have to pass over Stu Phillips’ Battleship Galactica offering.
All in all this was a very satisfactory and often stimulating concert of familiar and not so well-known film music.