A concert of movie music would most often consist of specially-composed soundtrack scores – the theme from Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean or bits of Bond from John Barrie, for example.
But this Kirklees Concert Season event took a different tack by showcasing extracts from classical works that had been deployed in films. A screen above the orchestra displayed images from the movies in question.
Some of the pieces we heard are now inextricably linked with the films that adopted them. The best example was the opening number - the prologue from Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, which is now universally known as the theme to 2001- A Space Odyssey.
Some of the film connections were more obscure. We heard a very attractively played movement from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, on the grounds that it was apparently used for a film called Breaking Away, which is about cycle racers, to judge from the rather incongruous images of young Americans on bikes that we saw.
Overall, it was an entertaining and varied programme, even if the significance of the movie tie-ins varied a good deal. There was some exceptionally well-known music, including Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalieri Rusticana and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (multiple movie uses, we were told, include Addams Family Values, Flubber, Wayne’s World 2 and Four Weddings and a Funeral).
There were just two pieces that were actually composed for films – Ennio Morricone’s theme from The Mission – which compared very favourably with the more obviously “classical” pieces on the programme – and a suite from Shostakovich’s music for a Russian film called The Gadfly (and later used for the British TV series Reilly – Ace of Spies).
Relative obscurities included a movement from Hanson’s Symphony No 2 (you might have heard it in Alien) and some Caucasian Sketches by Ippolitov-Ivanov (The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb).
Presented in association with Classic FM, this afternoon concert of attractive orchestral extracts was certainly a winning formula. It filled the Town Hall, and the Liverpool Phil, as you would expect, played with panache.
It wasn’t just a filler concert of lollipops (as popular pieces of music are patronisingly described). It was a relatively light-hearted occasion, but treated with serious professionalism. The best evidence for this was the fact that the conductor employed was the American musician Richard Kaufman, a veteran of Hollywood music making and of “pops” concerts, as they are known in the USA. He doubled as a relaxed and fluent compere and commentator, able to add amusing and interesting anecdotes from his own career and from movie lore in general.