Review: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play the film scores of John Williams at Cambridge Corn Exchange

PUBLISHED: 10:42 22 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:51 22 January 2017

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

© Nick Rutter

The audience saw sweeping pictures in their heads when the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played the music of John Williams at Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday, January 21.

The evening began with the triumphant main theme from Superman. So appropriate. In movie music terms, Williams is Superman. Composing for over 50 decades he has won five Oscars and received 50 nominations.

The only person more Oscar-nominated was Walt Disney. Williams is currently the most Oscar-nominated person on the planet.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with over 80 members had every note to spine-tingling perfection. For the Star Wars finale, the percussion was going so fast, the drum sticks moved as in a cartoon film, so fast you couldn’t pick out the individual movements.

Apparently, the audience always laughs when the main theme from Jaws starts its menacing deep notes, though as presenter Tommy Pearson said, it’s not a funny film. We laugh at the memory of how scared we were, back in the 1970s.

There was magic in the air when the orchestra played Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the little tingle jingles that mean something supernatural is afoot and Maggie Smith might appear at any moment.

When the orchestra played Somewhere in my Memory from Home Alone, we could see the snowflakes and the old lady. We could see the county landscape in The Reunion from Warhorse.

One of the most human stories lies behind the theme for Schindler’s List. Feeling overwhelmed by the subject matter, John Williams said to Steven Spielberg: “You need a better composer than me.”

Speilberg replied: “Yes, but they’re all dead.”

Of course, the answer was to write for the violin and the piece could surely never have been played better than the performance given by the orchestra’s lead violinist Tamas Andras – who also won the audience’s hearts with a medley from Fiddler on the Roof. You can’t beat music from the shetle.

During the interval, the audience was invited to tweet comments to be read out in the second half of the show. Young people from Saffron Walden Brass Band said it was good to hear how it should be done. And there was one saying: “At last a concert in the city where I live”. We were told that was from the orchestra’s conductor Robert Ziegler.

An enchanted evening.

Part of Cambridge Classical Concert Series. The next will be the Alison Balsom Recital on Tuesday, February 21.

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