Proms 2011: Prom 38 – Film Music Prom


I originally wrote this post on 13th August 2011, but never got round to publishing it. Finally I found the YouTube videos that show what I managed to see, so that you can watch them too. Better late then never …

Last night I ‘prommed’ for the first time. I have never been to the Proms and this year I was informed of a ‘FILM MUSIC PROM’ that was taking place. I ‘prommed’ and paid £5 to stand in the gallery to watch. It was incredible.

Act 1: Herrman, Morricone and Walton

Prom 38 began with Bernard Herrman’s unforgettable music from The Man Who Knew Too Much. I was not alive when Hitchcock created his first version in 1934 with Peter Lorre and nor was I alive for the second version, in 1956 – but both ended with a climactic murder in The Royal Albert Hall. To think that, in the new millennium in 2011, I stand in the gallery watching an Orchestra perform the same music – heading towards the inevitable crash of a cymbal is incredible. This led to music from Citizen Kane and then a flawless rendition of Herrman’s string-only-score for Psycho. This was amazing as the music literally felt like it was reaching out to the audience and then moving back into the orchestra. When the strings play the ‘Knife’ sequence it looks as if the orchestra themselves are stabbing their instruments all in unison. The faint pluck equally takes you back to the bathroom Marion Crane was killed within.

Morricone’s stunning Cinema Paradiso theme followed and, to finish the act we had an arrangement by Muir Mathieson of Henry V. I have not seen the film but I was well aware of the popularity this score has within ‘classical’ circles. I visited a friends house only recently and her Father had collected every issue of the publication ‘Gramophone’. He showed me an article on Film scores and Henry V was noted as one of the best film scores created. To see it live was a great precursor to watching the film itself.

Act 2: Williams, Greenwood, Bennett and Barry
It was inevitable that John Williams would pop up at some point at a Film Music evening. More Oscars to his name than anyone in the world, he has produced some of – if not the – Best Film Scores in the world. He is the most famous composer – well known by anyone who loves cinema and music. We heard a little Star Wars, providing a brilliant start only to then be gently led to hearing a live rendition of the theme from Schindler’s List. The fact that Williams composed both scores simply adds to my amazement that it is the same person. I was told many years ago that the Jurassic Park theme was the last brilliant John Williams score – I would argue that Hedwig’s Theme from the Harry Potter films are equally memorable.

We listened to a few pieces by Jonny Greenwood (Norwegian Wood) and Sir Richard Rodney Bennets Murder on the Orient Express, but it was the finale which blew the doors off.

James Bond often gets mentioned multiple times in conversations – and I have a personal love for the music. John Barry and David Arnold are the two strongest composers for the franchise – despite good efforts from Eric Serra (Goldeneye), Michael Kamen (Licence to Kill) and Eric Serra (For Your Eyes Only). David Arnold not only knows the craft, but he knows Barry’s scores – and this was so clear in the final piece of the evening. A suite that shows a clear link between John Barry and David Arnold’s scores – the classics are obviously there: Barry’s 007 theme, You Know My Name, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but it was a great parrallel between a theme from You Only Live Twice and Quantum of Solace that really strikes a chord – David Arnold is the natural successor to John Barry, and this suite proves it.


A brilliant evening I shall never forget! To think it cost £5!!!

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