Review: The New York Pops Goes to the Movies (Popcorn Not Included)
By Megan Wrappe, Contributing Writer, March 12, 2018
When we think about great movies from the past or present, we invariably think of all the musical soundtracks that accompany them. Seizing on this connection, last Friday night The New York Pops presented their own tribute entitled: The Best of Hollywood: Blockbuster Film Scores.
The evening was loosely constructed in chronological order, kicking off with the iconic number from the mid 1930s, “Hooray For Hollywood,” often considered the industry’s theme song. Following that up was the “Overture” from the 1935 classic Captain Blood, written by classically-trained Erich Korngold, who was responsible for a number of recognizable film scores, many featuring Errol Flynn in starring roles. Being from the South myself (North Carolina), there seems to be an inexplicable connection to Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from Gone With the Wind, but everyone became an honorary Scarlett O’Hara or Rhett Butler when The Pops played this one. Going along with the classic movie vibe and how we sometimes connect actors with the music from the films in which they appear, everyone was conjuring up images of Peter O’Toole’s sparkling blue eyes from under his turban when the “Overture” from Lawrence of Arabia was played — beautifully, I might add. But nothing was creepier than hearing the orchestra’s violin section playing the “Suite” from the 1960 hit Psycho, with as much gusto as the orchestra could muster.
There have been quite a number of French composers writing for Hollywood over the years, thus meriting a section all their own on the program which included the “Title Theme” from the 1966 A Man and a Woman, “The Windmills of Your Mind” from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), the themes from Love Story (1970) and Summer of ’42 (1971). Lots of “themes” here, and upon hearing each, it allowed the listener to immediately connect to images and memories of the movies for which they were composed.
One movie that also creeps up on my movie Pandora station every so often is 1986’s The Mission. It always seems to come up when I need something to calm me down, and when The Pops played the “Suite” from the movie, that’s exactly what happened. And to wake up the audience a bit before intermission, a number from 1988’s Sunset called “The Cowboys” definitely provided a programatic jolt with its clear country/western sound.
The second half of the concert brought us forward with music from more recently released films, starting with the theme from Batman (1989), followed by “The Ludlow” from Legends of the Fall (1994). The next selection paid tribute to the Disney canon by playing “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas (1995), composed by its practically resident composer, Alan Menken.
Making quite the dramatic leap from the fanciful nature of Disney to the brutality of Ancient Rome, the Pops enthusiastically performed the Hans Zimmer’s “Suite” from Gladiator (2000). Following this up with a more melodious number from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), proved that a recorded version of this music cannot compare to hearing it live. Closing out the night were selections from Marvel-themed movies, Thor (2011) and The Avengers” (2012). And for the “cherry on top” of the evening, the Pops offered up what conductor Steven Reineke said is their most requested music from this genre — the theme from Superman (1978) by the much-revered film composer, John Williams, known for so many other soundtracks as well, such as Star Wars (all primary feature films), E.T. and all Indiana Jones series movies, as just a sampling of his enormous output and impact on the industry.
This concert concluded the New York Pops current season, though there is a special 35th Birthday gala planned for April 30 which will honor composer Alan Menken (details here). Though the Pops typically engage guest soloists to feature in their performances, it was a real treat to just be able to focus on the incredible musicianship of the organization, allowing the group as a whole to shine as the star — meeting the challenge admirably. I’m already looking forward to hearing what they’ll be offering for our listening enjoyment next season.
For more information on the New York Pops and their upcoming concerts click here.
The New York Pops present The Best of Hollywood: Blockbuster Film Scores at Carnegie Hall on March 9, 2018. Steven Reineke, music director and conductor.
WHITING “Hooray for Hollywood” (arr. Robert Wendel)
KORNGOLD Overture from Captain Blood
STEINER “Tara’s Theme” from Gone with the Wind
HERRMANN Suite from Psycho
JARRE Overture from Lawrence of Arabia
MICHEL LEGRAND / FRANCIS LAI The French Collection (arr. Henry Mancini)
ENNIO MORRICONE Suite from The Mission (arr. Henry Mancini)
MANCINI “Cowboys” from Sunset
DANNY ELFMAN Theme from Batman
HORNER “The Ludlows” from Legends of the Fall
ALAN MENKEN “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas (arr. Steven Reineke)
HANS ZIMMER Suite from Gladiator (arr. John Wasson)
HOWARD SHORE “The Lighting of the Beacons” from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
PATRICK DOYLE Suite from Thor (arr. Rebecca Pellett)
ALAN SILVESTRI Theme from The Avengers (arr. Rebecca Pellett)
Cover: Steven Reineke conducting the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall; photo: Richard Termine.