John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra have always taken the Hollywood portion of their name seriously, each season programming at least one concert in homage to the art of motion picture scoring. That process reached a zenith over the weekend, as Mauceri and co. saluted the achievements of three of Hollywood’s greatest symphonic composers: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Bernard Herrman and Miklos Rozsa.
But what made the evening particularly special was the ability to appreciate the live performances of the music in conjunction with high-quality projections of the original films.
To see Errol Flynn split the arrow in the archery contest from “The Adventures of Robin Hood” as Korngold’s score surges to its climax; to take in Herrman’s dark atmospheric music to “Citizen Kane,” as well as his nail-biting underscoring for the chase scene in “North by Northwest”; or to swirl to the strains of Rozsa’s waltz from “Madame Bovary”– each brought the art of movie music making into brilliant focus.
Mauceri has consistently shown a real flair for programming. And in this concert he again chose his selections carefully. He picked prime examples of the composers’ movie music and integrated them with lesser known works composed specifically for the concert hall.
These symphonic creations included: Korngold’s Viennese ditty, “Die kleine Serenade for Small Orchestra,” composed in 1931; the “Memory Waltz” by Herrman adapted from his score for “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and last played at the Hollywood Bowl 40 years ago; and the final section from Rozsa’s “Theme, Variations and Finale Op. 13.”
The most extensive of these works, however, was Rozsa’s “Spellbound Concerto, ” a Rachmaninov-style interpretation of themes from Rozsa’s score to the Hitchcock classic. The effusive piano styling was supplied by David Buechner.
Epic images and epically scaled music from Rozsa’s score to “Ben-Hur” were saved for last. And in the “Parade of the Chariots,””The Manger” and the emotionally charged sequence called “Crossing of the Desert,” the orchestra demonstrated exactly how effective the fusion of music and image can be.
As a surprise encore, Mauceri led the orchestra in music from “Gone With the Wind.” And as Max Steiner’s memorable theme filled the Bowl, so did the image of Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett, standing against the sunset proclaiming: “I shall never go hungry again!” The near-capacity crowd of 16,637 was enthusiastic throughout the performance.
Special credit goes to John Goberman and PGM Prods. for assembling of the clips, and to Turner Entertainment, who supplied the superb quality prints.