5 items from 2015
Saturday night’s screening of “The Godfather” with live orchestra was an offer that 5,000 L.A. moviegoers couldn’t refuse. Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning 1972 classic unspooled with a 61-piece orchestra performing the original score by Nino Rota and Coppola’s composer father Carmine.
Justin Freer conducted the Hollywood Studio Symphony, which performed flawlessly and, impressively, without the need for a “click track” (a metronome-like device often used in film scoring to keep musicians precisely in sync).
The orchestra, dressed in “mob” black, was tastefully lit beneath the main screen at L.A. Live’s Nokia Theatre. Two other screens, flanking the stage, offered better views for audiences across the theater and in levels above.
The enthusiastic audience ranged from 20-something cinema buffs to seniors who recalled seeing the film in theaters four decades ago. They responded to the famous lines (“I’m gonna make him an offer he can »
- Jon Burlingame
This week, Chinese conductor Long Yu is leading the New York Philharmonic in subscription concerts for the first time (his previous appearances at the orchestra's helm were non-subscription Lunar New Year celebrations). Meanwhile, Maxim Vengerov, once the most spectacular violinist on the scene, continues his comeback from an injury. Thursday night their paths intersected at Avery Fisher Hall in a Russian program that indicated each is on the right path.
Reports of earlier concerts in Vengerov's comeback were somewhat disheartening. Rumor has it that he's been focusing on the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, which opened the concert, because it's relatively easy for him. In a way, this is hilarious; this work, written in 1878, was intended for Hungarian virtuoso Leopold Auer, but Auer turned down the opportunity to premiere it, calling it "unplayable." But compared to the slashing Prokofiev concertos on which Vengerov built his reputation, »
Innovative founder of the Swingle Singers, the popular group that mixed Bach with jazz
Ward Swingle, who has died aged 87, first had the idea of singing the works of Js Bach to the scat syllables of jazz in the early 1960s, during a quiet moment as a backing singer for recordings in Paris. The American-born musician – he was also a fine pianist – had been introduced to that world by the French jazz vocalist Christiane Legrand. She subsequently became lead soprano for Les Swingle Singers, the first of his lineups to provide one of the most distinctive sounds in popular music.
The steady tempo of Baroque music lent itself naturally to a rhythmical approach and improvisation. Adding a light accompaniment of bass and drums to his agile vocal team, Ward was able to approach the Philips label with the idea of making a recording, with little expectation that it would be a success. »
- Olive Simpson
Documentarian Elchin Musaoglu’s sophomore narrative feature, “Nabat,” Azerbaijan’s Oscar submission, is an exquisitely shot minimalist tale of an elderly woman who finds herself the last remaining resident in a village evacuated during the regional warfare of two decades ago. With little in the way of commercial prospects, the film’s poetic strengths should nonetheless continue to find favor on the fest circuit and among buyers for more rarified home-format platforms.
Known to all as “Auntie,” Nabat (Fatemeh Motamed Arya) makes her laborious way on foot every day along rugged mountain roads, delivering milk in heavy jars from her beloved lone cow. Sans car or electricity, she and her bedridden husband, Iskender (Vidadi Aliyev), a former gamekeeper, scrape out a subsistence scarcely different from that of their ancestors 100 or 200 years ago. Their only child recently died a soldier’s death and is buried on a nearby hillside. As audible armed conflict grows ever nearer, »
- Dennis Harvey
After Gravity blew your eardrums out of the airlock in 2013 with its seamless mix of sound effects and music, it was hard to imagine a film wowing just as much the year after, but 2014 was a year in which movie soundtracks became, if anything, even more intricate, from films about the nature of being a musician to those that replicated the noise of human existence for alien senses.
Before 2014 becomes a distant ringing in the ears, here are the top 14 movie soundtracks of the year.
Once you've heard Mica Levi's soundtrack to Under the Skin, everything else sounds both disappointing and even more exciting. I say 'soundtrack' because, like the best movies, Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi understands that sound and music are two halves of the same hastily-conceived metaphor. »
5 items from 2015
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