Tonight I attended the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's Symphony at the Movies: Crime Time concert at the Sydney Opera House. The theme was obviously movies about crime, although I thought that including music from The Matrix and The Sixth Sense was stretching the definition a bit.
Hitchcock's works were a major focus with Franz Waxman's music to Rebecca and Rear Window was included, along with a suite from Dial M for Murder by Dimitri Tiomkin. I must confess that I am not a big fan of films from Hollywood's supposed Golden Age and I find their music, like the movies themselves, to be rather too melodramatic.
I am an avowed fan of John Williams' compositions and I was not disappointed by the inclusion of music from JFK. The main title music was played followed by The Motorcade. This is not one of my favourite tracks on the CD soundtrack, but hearing it played live was a revelation, enveloping the listener in the drama and confusion of the shooting, which still offering hints of the main theme.
I was looking forward to hearing Jerry Goldsmith's compositions for Basic Instinct and Chinatown as I am not familiar with the soundtracks. The former was okay, but Chinatown was an excellent listen, evoking the sultry underbelly of LA along with some interesting orchestration and use of instruments.
Don Davis' suite from The Matrix had a lot of energy and excitement, but it lacked the melodic skills of Williams and Goldsmith. James Newton Howard's score to The Sixth Sense was far more restrained, if not a little boring at times compared to some of his other works.
The end of the program took a trip back to the 60's with Ron Goodwin's swinging Miss Marple theme, which I didn't really enjoy. The program ended with a James Bond medley, familiar and fun, though I'm not really a fan of the music. Likewise, the encore of Nino Rota's famous music for The Godfather is not my thing and I thought it was a fairly meloncholy way to end the night.
As I commented back in 2006 when I attended a previous Symphony at the Movies concert I felt there was too much emphasis on older music and not enough on the new. Thankfully the Sydney Symphony redeemed itself last year with the brilliant concert: The Music of John Williams. They should do the same for a few other composers, like Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner.
Finally, it was a shock to see how much Clive James appears to have aged. He wasn't in good form tonight, stumbling over his words at times and appearing quite tired. He only truly came alive for political quips.
I'm happy to see film music getting more recognition in Sydney, but I do think that the concerts could further improve. Sydney Symphony: if you want a good film music program, I'll help pick the pieces!
The full program (pdf)
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