Heroes and Legends

Heroes-and-Legends-2Heroes were summoned and legends were retold on Friday evening at Bristol’s Colston Hall, as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra returned for its annual film music celebration. Once again conducted and introduced by Pete Harrison, this concert has become a real annual fixture and it appears to get more and more popular every year. For this seasoned film music concertgoer it was in fact the very best of the series yet, thanks to Harrison’s very fine programme. The evening saw a real mix of titles, composers and eras, and there was even something new to me.

John Williams bookended the first half, with the orchestra more than doing justice to his 1996 Olympic anthem ‘Summon the Heroes’. It was a thrilling start to the evening, a mood returned to in the fantastic sweep of the composer’s ‘Flight to Neverland’ from Hook. Before we took that flight, though, we were treated to Hans Zimmer’s evocative ‘Chevaliers de Sangreal’ from The Da Vinci Code, and the rather less successful ‘Tell Me Now (What You See)’ from Zimmer’s soundtrack to King Arthur. Orchestral arrangements of songs never fare well in my opinion; I’m not sure if it’s the drum kit percussion, or the fact that the orchestration was a bit thin. A minor blip in an otherwise first class selection. The piece sat between two total classics, which probably didn’t help it; indeed John Barry’s sublime Robin and Marian, and Jarre’s sumptuous Doctor Zhivago were so richly orchestrated, that it felt as though a further thirty players had taken to the stage.

The first of two nods to the world of gaming came in the form of a specially-arranged suite from Lego Marvel Avengers. Composed by Bristol-based composer Tess Tyler, it was a robust and colourful action suite that really did delight. I hadn’t come across Tess’ name before, so I will be sure to keep an ear out for more. I’m not a gamer and haven’t embraced the musical side of the genre in any great depth, but I was surprised and captivated by both game selections. The second, which came in part two, was by British/LA-based composer Stephen Barton and was again especially arranged for the BSO concerts. Titanfall appears to be something of an apocalyptic action affair, and the suite was truly spectacular. Another to listen out for.

Harrison and the band took us right back to Hollywood’s golden age with two selections from El Cid, which were a total treat. This was joined by Basil Poledouris’ exhilarating Conan the Barbarian, and James Horner’s Troy – which both could find roots in Miklos Rozsa’s much earlier work. The horns struggled a little with Horner’s glittering arpeggio fanfares, which was a small shame, but it was great to hear this particular piece live. A further treat came in the shape of Dragonheart, Randy Edelman’s best work by far, and performed to perfection.

The strings were especially noteworthy throughout, with fine turns in Williams’ ‘Hedwigs Theme’, the fabulous Americana-infused Lincoln, and Tan Dun’s exquisite ‘The Eternal Vow’ from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  The first cellist was especially brilliant in the latter, indeed soloists were given quite the work out, and kudos (sympathies?) must go to the first Trumpet, who had his work cut out in pretty much all of the Williams pieces.

The final words went to Williams’ ubiquitous ‘Raiders March’ – which brought the house down – and Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven, albeit the shorter concert version, and sadly including that dreaded drum kit.

The large audience, which included many many children, created an infectious and exciting atmosphere. The varied programme had enough classics for those new to the concerts, and the wealth of alternative pieces served to award those of us who attend each year wanting to hear something a little different.