Tuesday, 8 October 2013

All hail the king!

Albert Hall, 07/10/2012
There is something wonderful about 100+ performers working together in perfect harmony, so when you throw in the always evocative film scores of Danny Elfman you know that you are going to be on to a winner. Thus after spending almost 4 hours driving from Cambridge to London it was with great anticipation that we sat down at the Royal Albert Hall for what promised to be a spectacular performance from the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The program contained all the classics: Beetlejuice, Batman, Mars Attacks! (with outstanding theremin solo) and Edward Scissorhands. It also had some of Burton/Elfman's more recent works, including Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, and Dark Shadows. It was the trademark swooshing wind instruments, galloping strings, and unending jingly bits in the background (five percussionists with maybe five hundred separate things to hammer around) that makes Elfman's music the joy and explosion of excitement that it is. All were performed perfectly, to the point that I would love to see how that nights performance syncs up to the scores in the actual films.

It was known in advance that Elfman was going to take to the stage at some point but it wasn't clear what for, so when he turned up to sing the Jack Skellington songs and sang with the same gusto he had back in Oingo Boingo 20 years ago a standing ovation was inevitable. However it wasn't known that Helena Bonham Carter was going to turn up so when she walked on to join in as Sally there was pure joy and entrancement, resulting in more standing, clapping, and a round of footstamping that I doubt you normally get at such a distinguished venue. Then Tim Burton got dragged on stage from the wings (looking curiously unsure that to do with himself as it was Danny's night) and a number of people could have died happy where they stood.

The only down side to all this was that the visuals, both of the tunes film footage and Tim Burton's concept images, that were running at the start of each piece were far to short so only ran for about a quarter of each tune. Whilst each piece holds up as its own thing and was totally engrossing to listen to they were made to go with the visuals, so it would have been nice to have had something a bit more substantial on that front.

As this event is listed as the "World Premier" all I can do is encourage you to get tickets to it when and wherever it is on next. It may not have Mr Elfman himself it will have his music done to perfection.
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