The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 March 2005

A spoonful of bombast

Something called "Star Wars and the Treble Invaders" is coming to the Civic under the auspices of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic this Sunday, and I am disinclined to snicker. Lileks knows why:

At one of the Minnesota Youth Symphony concerts I MCd last year, they performed "Duel of the Fates" from a Star Wars movie, complete with a huge chorus. Two hundred people on stage, sawing and belting with great gusto at Orchestra Hall. They enjoyed it. Because it was fun to perform. A guilty pleasure, but what counts more — the guilt or the pleasure? Look, I love Berlioz more than John Williams, because Symphonie fantastique is an incomparable work, and the Tuba Miram never fails to part my hair. But if I had to choose between the two, I might take Williams. He's produced 100X as much stuff, and listening to it does not feel as if I'm sitting in the Church of Classical Music in itchy church pants. I can skip around, whereas I always feel wrong if I FF through a Mahler adagio because I'm just not in the mood. Itís cheap popular program music, yes — but such large portions!

And one does not lure the kiddies into the classical camp with Das Lied von der Erde, for sure.

Posted at 7:14 AM to Tongue and Groove

I have nothing against soundtracks--in fact, I enjoy listening to them and I'm somewhat of a soundtrack freak (although I have to say, compared to some other soundtrack composers, I'm not so enamored with Williams). The thing is, I would rather play classical than movie music. I think it has to do more with freedom of interpretation--it's more acceptable to put your own spin on a classical piece, but everyone's been to the movies and they expect things to be played a certain way.

Posted by: sya at 9:03 AM on 16 March 2005

Makes sense. With a classical piece, you can take the third-movement repeat or pass it up; you can crank up the tempo or slow it down (I have two recordings of Ravel's Boléro that vary by four whole minutes, and don't ask why I would have two recordings of Boléro); you can fiddle with the dynamics. With a film score, about all you can do is resequence it into a suite.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:29 PM on 16 March 2005