22 Oct 2011 Movie Classics with John Harle

Programme – Movie Classics 22 October 2011

W.A. Mozart    Symphony No. 25
S. Barber          Adagio for Strings
P. Glass             Façades
arr. Soprano Saxophone and Oboe
T. Monk           Round Midnight
J.S. Bach          Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (1st movement)
M. Nyman       Miranda
G. F. Handel    Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
W.A. Mozart   Clarinet Concerto (slow movement)
S. Myers             Cavatina
B. Herrmann   Theme from Taxi Driver
A. Marcello      Oboe Concerto (slow movement)
E. Morricone   La Califfa
Gabriel’s Oboe
J. Harle           Silencium 
(Encore Michael Nyman’s Time Lapsefrom Zed and two Noughts)

Programme Notes

W.A. Mozart: Symphony No. 25
Often called the “little” G-Minor Symphony to distinguish it from the more famous G-Minor Symphony (No 40. -see our last note) that Mozart  wrote during his final years. Probably the first of Mozart’s works to have been inspired by his older colleague, Franz Joseph Haydn. Its anguished minor-mode opening, in particular, seems to derive directly from Haydn’s Sturm und Drang (“storm and stress”). No wonder that the makers of Amadeus (1984) began the action of the film with this work, setting Salieri’s attempted suicide to the sharply edged throb of its opening unison passage and the explosive “rocket” theme that follows it. Also used in William Shakespear’es Romeo and Juliet, 1996, starring a young Leonard Di Capprio.

Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings
Adagio for Strings can be heard on many film, TV, and video game soundtracks, perhaps most famously for  Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning film Platoon, David Lynch’s 1980 Oscar-nominated film The Elephant Man and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Oscar-nominated 2001 film Amélie. The Adagio was performed in 2001 at Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks, replacing the traditional upbeat patriotic songs. In 2004, listeners of the BBC’s Today program voted Adagio for Strings the “saddest classical” work ever.

Philip Glass: Façades
Composed in 1981, this piece was originally written for two saxophones or two flutes and strings. Façades is a part score that Philip Glass wrote for the film Koyaanisqatsi, which was directed and produced by Geoffrey Reggio. Koyaanisqatsi means unbalanced life in the language of the Hopi Indians. The film, without actors and dialogue, shows the clash between two cultures; the of city life and its technology and that of nature. The music accompanies apocalyptic images of an empty New York; the film shows the facades and skyscrapers in a completely deserted Wall Street district of Manhattan.

Thelonius Sphere Monk: Round Midnight
Monk is considered one of the giants of American music with a unique improvisational style and he made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including Round Midnight, written in the early 1940s. Round Midnight is best characterized as a “darkly beautiful” ballad with an “after-hours” feel that manages to sound fresh and original decade after decade. Its haunting overtones are nearly tangible. This piece has been used in many films and documentaries – to name a few The Omega Man (1971) with Charlton Heston, The Marseille Contract  (1974) starring Michael Caine, The Score with Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando (2001), Nearest to Heaven (2002)with Catherine Deneuve and William Hurt., and the critically acclaimed Round Midnight with real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon brilliantly portraying the fictional tenor sax player Dale Turner.

J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
The work is scored for three each of violins, violas, cellos, plus basso continuo (bass and harpsichord). The opening movement is organized around an eight-measure ritournello sporting stunning unisons and interspersed with a number of episodes. . Most famously used in the 1988 film, Die Hard, with Bruce Willis, but also in Hannibal, (2001) with Anthony Hopkins revisiting his role as Hannibal Lecter, Lucky Break (2001) from the book by Stephen Fry  and Moll Flanders (1996).

Michael Nyman: Miranda
Michael Nyman composed the musical score for the Peter Greenaway’s 1991 film,  Prospero’s Books. (1991). Miranda, the daughter of Prospero, an exiled magician, falls in love with the son of his enemy, while the sorcerer’s sprite, Ariel, convinces him to abandon revenge against the traitors from his earlier life. In the film, Prospero stands in for Shakespeare, and is seen writing and speaking the story’s action as it unfolds. Prospero’s Books is a complex tale based upon William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Almost all that Nyman has written for Peter Greenaway is essentially concert music that has additionally been used immensely effectively for film. Director Peter Greenaway and composer Michael Nyman acrimoniously ended their longstanding work relationship while making Prospero’s Books.

G. F. Handel : Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Handel composed his opera  “Solomon” between 5 May and 13 June, 1748. Act III portrays the visit of  the Queen of Sheba and her amazement at the glory and splendour of Solomon’s court. Often used for wedding ceremonies, Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba can be heard in the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral, starring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell.

W.A. Mozart: Clarinet Concerto
The slow movement of this beautiful concerto appears as the finale, (arranged by Girgio Moroder) in the 1980 film American Gigolo. The slow movement can also be heard in the films Stealing Beauty (1996) Breathless (1960)Green Card (1990) and perhaps most famously in Out of Africa (1985).

Stanley Myers:  Cavatina
Born in Birmingham (6 October 1930 – 9 November 1993), Myers was a prolific British film composer who scored over sixty films. He is best known for Cavatina (1970), an evocative guitar piece that served as the signature theme for Michael Cimino’s 1978 film The Deer Hunter. A somewhat different version of this work, performed by John Williams, can be heard in The Walking Stick (1970). Cleo Laine and Iris Williams, in separate recordings as He Was Beautiful, helped to make Cavatina become even more popular.

Bernard Herrmann :Theme from Taxi Driver (Also known as So Close To Me Blues)This was the last work completed before Herrmann’s  death in 1975, for the 1976 film Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese. Immediately after finishing the recording, Herrmann returned to his hotel for the night. and died from cardiovascular disease in his sleep.  Scorsese dedicated Taxi Driver  to Herrmann’s memory. An American composer noted particularly known for his collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock. He also composed notable scores for many other movies, including Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,  and Cape Fear. Herrmann’s most recognizable music is from Hitchcock film, Psycho. Unusual for a thriller at the time, the score uses only the string section of the orchestra. The screeching violin music heard during the famous shower scene  is one of the most famous moments in film score history.

A. Marcello: Oboe Concerto (slow movement)
Alessandro Marcello was a Venetian nobleman who excelled in various areas, including poetry, philosophy, mathematics and, most notably, music. This concerto he wrote in D minor for oboe, strings and basso continuo is perhaps his best-known work.  The central movement, in particular, is a deeply-felt adagio which aspires to genuine pathos. As such, it has been used effectively in many movies, like The Hunger  1983(with David Bowie and Susan Sarandon), The Firm  1993(with Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman) or the more recent The House of Mirth 2000.

E. Morricone: La Califfa & Gabriel’s Oboe
La Califfa was written for Alberto Bevilacqua’s Italian film of a love story The Lady Caliph (1970). Ennio Morricone created yet another solo piece for the oboe, Gabriel’s Oboe  for  the 1986 film, The Mission starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons. This was the main theme for the soundtrack, representing the humanity, spirituality and emotion of the story and the sublime Gabriel’s Oboe is the most famous part of the haunting score.

J. Harle: Silencium
Not strictly from a film but a beautiful piece of music composed by our guest soloist this evening,. .Silencium is the theme to the BBC television series ‘Silent Witness’, and has been the theme throughout the 12 series that have been made.
It has been recorded by many artists worldwide, and arrangements of it include a performance by The Brodsky Quartet with a solo Theremin last year. It featured on the Sony BMG album The Quiet Room”, and has also been recorded by The Worcester Cathedral Choir, with the original soprano soloist, Sarah Leonard. The arrangement for solo soprano saxophone and orchestra has been especially prepared for tonight’s performance.

W.A. Mozart Symphony no. 40
Mozart wrote his Symphony No. 40 in G minor, 1788, sometimes referred to as the “Great G minor symphony,” to distinguish it from the “Little G minor symphony,” No. 25 (played earlier). The two are the only minor key symphonies Mozart wrote. The first movement begins darkly, not with its first theme but with accompaniment, played by the lower strings with divided violas. The most common perception today is that the symphony is tragic in tone and intensely emotional. The symphony is unquestionably one of Mozart’s most greatly admired  and has been used in films such as James Bond -The Living Daylights (1987) with Timothy Dalton, Five Easy Pieces (1970) starring Jack Nicholson and Hopscotch (1980) with Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson.