Jerry Goldsmith: Music From The Movies – LSO (20 March)

Suite from Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Suite from First Knight
The Boys form Brazil
Medley of Television Themes
Fireworks – A celebration of Los Angeles

London Symphony Orchestra
Jerry Goldsmith

Reviewed by: Diarmuid Dunne

Reviewed: 20 March, 2003
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

With no less than 18 Academy Award nominations, one thing can certainly be said of Jerry Goldsmith: within the sphere of film music, he is one of the best and most successful composers. With titles such as “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Air Force One”, “Basic Instinct”, “The Boys from Brazil”, “Poltergeist”, “Planet of the Apes”, “The Omen”, “Alien”, “Chinatown” and “LA Confidential”, it’s no surprise that Goldsmith remains one of the most sought after composers in Hollywood.

For the second of his two concerts with the LSO, Goldsmith opened with his brilliantly upbeat theme to “Supergirl”. Drawing on John Williams’s score for the original Superman, Goldsmith has created a wonderfully triumphant march-theme that is recognisable as part of the ’Superperson’ genre. Its inherent cheer and optimism was an effective beginning to the evening.

Next up, perhaps Goldsmith’s most famous work, the suite from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. I’ve never liked the famous title-section to this suite (which was later used for the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation”). The strident, garish theme with its clamorous brass chords (consistently started tonight with a rather clumsy mezzo-piano) always jars me. That said the interior sections proved more interesting and appealing. Several times the main theme’s motif is recalled; here it was given room to breathe by being handled more slowly and generously by the strings. There was also some very interesting integration of synthesised sounds in ’Spock Walk; Inner Workings’, with mysterious, primeval sounds echoing through the orchestration generating an outlandish, nether-worldly atmosphere.

The second half began with a suite from “First Knight”. A trumpet fanfare heralding a sort of Hollywood meets Camelot affair, with a mixture of romantic, pastoral and militaristic themes. Holst and Bruckner came to mind in what is one of the composer’s favourite scores of recent times. It was followed by “Mulan”, a pleasant but not wholly distinguished set, the best feature of which is probably the playful Chinese-style sections, handled deftly and wittily by the LSO – undeniably impressive all night. A particular highlight was “The Boys from Brazil”. With its charming Strauss-like theme waltzing into the darker, Wagnerian middle, it is indeed one of Goldsmith’s best works.

A medley of television themes included a jaunty, jazzy version of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E”, the recently written theme to “Star Trek: Voyager”, and nostalgia abounded with the music from “Dr. Kildare” and “The Waltons” (how the latter “corn ball” programme became popular in Britain he will never know, the composer confessed).

The evening closed with a rare piece by Goldsmith that is not for film or television. He composed Fireworks – A Celebration of Los Angeles for his own 70th-birthday as “a grand celebration of my childhood, growing years, years of maturity, and all the events that climaxed with my appearance at the Hollywood Bowl”. So obviously and joyfully American in its themes, the piece is a prime example of Goldsmith’s mature style, both an amiable portrait of the composer and a fitting end to the evening.

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