Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pirates of the Caribbean with the SSO

Long have I resisted the musical call of the Disney/Bruckheimer "Pirates of the Caribbean," but I lately have caved in to my inner pirate (though in a legitimate way).

First came the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Tokyo Disneyland. Then I bought the soundtrack while over in Japan. Today I attended the concert performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Opera House, along with one of my brothers and his wife.

The principal composer Klaus Badelt was joined by his Media Ventures colleagues, including boss Hans Zimmer, in writing the music for the film. Media Ventures (now Remote Control Productions) soundtracks tend to have a similar sound about them and Pirates was no exception. The music is a guilty pleasure, like fast food. Easily digested with an immediate flavour hit. But it doesn't contain the subtleties of composers like Williams and Goldsmith that often only reveal themselves through repeated listening.

The orchestra, conducted by American Richard Kaufman, was performed to the film and dialogue projected on the a screen behind them, much like an actual film scoring.

I'm not a huge fan of these type of concerts as it is easy to focus more on the movie than the music.  But better this than no music and you get good at filtering when you are a film music buff.

The orchestra certainly has to be in its toes as there US no room for slipups. And I don't think there were any. We were seated in the middle of the very front row. These were cheap seats as the screen was obscured. What they gave in return were wonderful views of the strings and the conductor, so close you could smell his BO wafting down.

The bombastic music kept the string section busy, with some lovely individual cello passages and the menacing ostinato that surprised in its complexity and vigor. The percussion was well defined and drove the action. The Cantillation male choir added wordless vocals. This music, like the movie that it accompanied, was there to be enjoyed for its action and excitement, not for its originality and deep artistry, and it certainly achieved its aim, the music propelling itself to a pounding finale.

A very fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Arrrrr!

Update: After listening to the soundtrack again I realise that one of the great things about attending a live concert was that the music didn't sound like it was generated by a synthesizer. I suspect Media Ventures filter their sound way too much.

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