Wednesday, 3 May 2017

CD Review (The Straits Times, May 2017)

London Philharmonic / John Mauceri
LPO 0086 (2 CDs) / ****1/2

This is a live recording of a 2013 concert held at London's Royal Festival Hall of concert arrangements by American conductor John Mauceri of film scores under the banner “Hollywood Blockbusters 1960s to 1980s”. 

There cannot be a more familiar prelude than Alfred Newman's 24 second-long 20th Century Fox Fanfare that opens the concert. Alex North's score for the epic starring Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, is turned into a 2-movement symphony lasting some 26 minutes. Just as atmospheric is the Symphonic Portrait of The Godfather from Nino Rota's iconic music, with the popular melody Speak Softly Love skilfully stitched within a Verdi-like backdrop of Sicilian nostalgia and shady New York underworld dealings.

What can be more recognisable than the slashing strings of Bernard Hermann's score for Psycho, and the mounting tension faced by the anxious Janet Leigh in the movie's opening? Mauceri's Narrative for string orchestra on the Alfred Hitchcock movie encompasses it all. Particularly nostalgic for trekkies will be Jerry Goldsmith's Star TrekThe New Enterprise with its iconic celestial strains. 

Two short “encores” close each disc, Franz Waxman's irrepressible Ride Of The Cossacks from Taras Bulba and Maurice Jarre's heroic Lawrence Of Arabia theme. The London Philharmonic performs with requisite passion. Movies are never the same without the music, and that is where the genius lies.      

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