Thursday, January 26, 2023

New Century Cinema Music

The New Century Chamber Orchestra, under Music Director Daniel Hope, swept through the Bay Area last week with a program called Cinematic Escapes, featuring music by Bernard Herrmann, Tan Dun, Ennio Morricone, and George Gershwin.
I like all those composers, but unfortunately the reductions for string orchestra by British composer/conductor/arranger Paul Bateman just made me want to listen to the lush original versions of Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo Suite and a trio of Morricone themes from The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
One of the amusing highlights of the concert was watching all the cellists bouncing their heads in unison to the beat of Morricone's Spaghetti Western score, helped along by Artie Storch and Galen Lemmon, two percussionists positioned behind the strings,
A large percussion section was there for Tan Dun's Double Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings (With Percussion), a work written expressly for the New Century Chamber Orchestra. It's a three-movement piece culled from his soundtracks for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero and The Banquet. It's a brilliant work and a good example of repurposing movie music for sophisticated concert purposes.
Violinist Daniel Hope was joined in the concert by the Ukranian pianist Alexey Botvinov, one of the major figures of Odessa's musical life who was touring with Hope when Russia invaded his country. Hope and Botvinov have recorded music by Schnittke and Silvestrov for Deutsche Grammophon along with a charity project, Music for Ukraine, a collection of classical music from that embattled country. It was a delight to hear him.

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