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REVIEW: RSNO gives stellar performance of Star Wars music

The RSNO gets into the Star Wars spirit.  Picture: Martin Shields.
The RSNO gets into the Star Wars spirit. Picture: Martin Shields.

I suppose this is some sort of confession – I’ve seen very few of the Star Wars movies.

But I have heard and appreciated the music that is intertwined with them, music that might live longer than the movies themselves.

Maybe the glorious scores of John Williams will have the same longevity as many composers before him who have added their art to that of the theatre long before the attraction of the silver screen.

One of film music’s greatest

The word prolific falls short to describe what Williams did for film music, and he must surely one of the greatest contributors to that genre.

Only Eric Korngold can match him, on both quality and output. Williams is responsible for the scores of nine Star Wars feature films and plus extras, and if you add music for ET, Superman, Indiana Jones, Home Alone etc to the Star Wars set and you have a true master of the art.

RSNO conductor Stephen Bell..

However, it was Star Wars alone this weekend, and if you ever needed a catch-up with the marvellous music Williams came up with to match George Lucas’ amazing cinematography, the only place to be was on Sunday afternoon in the Caird Hall with conductor Stephen Bell and the RSNO.

It certainly was if you were a Star Wars “geek” and there were many there, perhaps over three generations, to witness a Williams tribute. A trip down memory lane? Certainly!

Principal “geek” – and he was proud to admit this – was presenter Tom Redmond whose depth of knowledge of the films weaved a collage of anecdotes, facts and figures which knitted together the music on show.

Audience participation too

He even cajoled some audience participation in the Duel of Fates snippet. Cajoled is perhaps the wrong word. These Star Wars fans need little incentive to enjoy themselves!

With a huge array of brass, one might have thought it would be top-heavy musically.

But Williams mixes things like the Battle of the Heroes with the gentle melody of Princess Leia’s Theme, and the RSNO responded to this wonderful palette of orchestral colour and variation in spectacular style.

The RSNO orchestra absorbed in performance. Picture: Sally Jubb.

Sweeping strings one moment, sonorous brass and vibrant percussion the next.

Williams’ touch for orchestral colour – which on screen gave many of the films’ characters their own personal theme – was manifest throughout, and while many had heard classics like the iconic title music on screen, to hear them live was a riveting experience.

Glorious team effort

Redmond picked out principal horn Chris Gough as the main man, but that’s a tad unfair. Each and every soloist throughout the orchestra, from flute to glockenspiel and from violin to oboe, deserve equal accolades.

It was a team effort and a pretty glorious one at that.

Sometimes film music played out of context, ie without a screenplay to support it, can be a bit bewildering.

Even for this non-geek critic whose priority is music over matter, everything made perfect and fulsome sense.

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