REVIEW: "Sounds Great! The Sound of the Movies" was a dream concert: the rare chance to hear Hong Kong Sinfonietta… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
The Prickle (@ThePrickle) August 31, 2021
For many, this was a dream concert: the rare chance to hear Hong Kong Sinfonietta play through John Williams’ iconic orchestral scores for Jaws (1975); Star Wars (1977); Superman (1978); Indiana Jones (1981); E.T. (1982); Schindler’s List (1993); and Harry Potter (2001). No microphones; no big screen; just music. Part of MOViE MOViE Life is Art Festival, conductor Ken Lam also educated us affably between each piece, on the history of film music.
The Hong Kong Sinfonietta really shine in the quiet moments: the strings breathe as one through Williams’ romantic melodies, with controlled brass and percussion that never dominates. James Cuddeford’s violin solo for Schindler’s List was flawlessly restrained, and all the more heart-rending for it.
However, the ensemble showed us they could bite and scratch, too: we got heart-stopping whacks of bass drum and piano in Jaws, and it was great to hear the brass let loose a bit more in the main title from Star Wars near the end. In addition to the John Williams repertoire, we enjoyed a selection from other iconic movie composers. One particular highlight was the violent, ugly stabbing music from Bernard Herrmann’s game-changing score to Psycho (1960).
Not every work landed, though. A medley of James Bond themes fell spectacularly flat: where were the screaming horns and spitting brass clusters? A rushed attempt at Alan Silvestri’s theme for Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) didn’t work without the necessary beefing-up with synths and studio effects. We left with more respect than ever not just for film composers, but for all the musicians that breathe life into every film.
One night only, 30 August 2021, at HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall.