Lincoln Center, New York, NY
Monday, April 24 & Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS
Featuring Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese
Concert Review from the New York Times (requires free registration)
The program of the event can be found online.
Concert Review by ‘DigitalFreakNYC’
Just got back from seeing John Williams conduct New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. For those who didn’t know, this was all about film music. The first act was dedicated to Bernard Herrmann and the second to the films John has scored with Steven Spielberg.
Martin Scorsese was on stage for all of the first act.
Steven Spielberg was on stage for all of the second act.
Death Hunt – Dangerous Ground
The Inquirer – Citizen Kane
Ball of Springfield Mountain – The Devil and Daniel Webster
Gallop The Whip – “Currier and Ives” Suite
Scene d’amour – Vertigo
Prelude – Psycho
The Murder – Psycho
Night Piece for Orchestra – Taxi Driver
Prelude/Night Owl – Taxi Driver
Prelude – North By Northwest
Main Theme – Jaws
Excerpts – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Out To Sea/Shark Cage Fugue – Jaws
Indy’s Very First Adventure – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Main Theme – Schindler’s List
Finale – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
A Prayer For Peace – Munich
Main Theme – Star Wars
Tribute to Leonard Bernstein
NBC Nightly News Theme
Just some thoughts:
Saw Kate Capshaw in the lobby. No security around her or anything. Surprised people weren’t hounding her. She’s very pretty in person but a lot older than Temple of Doom, that’s for sure. She needs to eat a burger or two as well.
Saw Chris Martin of Coldplay during intermission. He might have been with Gwyneth as I saw a blonde with him but was too busy looking at him.
Psycho and North By Northwest were accompanied by film clips. Both were shown in widescreen.
The piece from Last Crusade was cool because we got to see the unfinished film first. It was only dialogue and special effects. No music. Throughout it, Spielberg was doing a commentary of sorts, telling us where he would need “hits” and certain things accentuated with the music. Something was wrong with the print that they screened because the video was jumping all around. I half expected Spielberg to comment. And, yes, it was full screen. After we saw it “raw,” they then showed the same 3 minute clip over again and John added the music. It started from Young Indy jumping out of the cave to just after Fedora says “Damn” and Indy is running away from the train. This included all the unreleased music from the Lion/whip scene as well as the magic car. Nice to hear it solo.
For E.T., we saw the last 10 minutes of the movie the same way. The end of E.T. always gets to me but hearing it and seeing it this way, tears were streaming down my face. It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces of music and was only made better by hearing it live with the film being projected. It ran from the stealing of the van to the very end of the film. I’m actually listening to it right now. And yes, it was full screen.
There isn’t much to say about Martin or Steven’s contributions. Everything was primarily scripted. Steven made a comment about another Indy movie and the crowd went nuts…as they did when John came out for the encore and said “well, George Lucas can’t be there but we’ll do this one anyway.” Huge roar from the crowd.
An amazing night.
And made even more amazing because I got to sit next to my parents who bought me my first score when I was probably about 3 or 4. It was fulfilling to hear a part of that score, Star Wars, together. Much love to them.
Concert Review by ‘nightscape94’
I’ll just try to add to what was already mentioned, instead of repeating. The theme from Jaws was not in the program, and as soon as I heard the low piano notes, it was obvious they weren’t sticking to the script (it was supposed to start with Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
Speaking of CE3K, the “excerpts” was outstanding. I love this piece, and it was perfection.
The Herrmann half of the concert was great. Williams conducted the Psycho music to film. The night drive scene (in the rain) and the murder. Since the two cues were merged, the film was more or less a montage (they edited out the actual murder) and put in some additional shots of the Bates’ motel and Norman, etc…to fill the void, and so the music and film ended at the same time. Oh, and when the shrieking strings came in when the shower curtain opened, people started laughing. I’m sure that’s what Herrmann was going for. Idiots!
North by Northwest was conducted to film as well. It started out with the airplane chase (and subsequent explosion) then went into a montage of all the other Hitchcock/Herrmann film collaborations.
The Spielberg/Williams half was incredible…but of course it was. That’s what I went there for, and it was great, fantastic, utterly superb. The Indy thing, as described by DigitalfreakNYC above, was neat. Williams spotted it right on with the film. After it was shown the first time, without music, Spielberg then said..”and now let’s see why I can’t make a movie without John Williams…”, and then JW did his thing.
The Schindler’s List solo was fine, the performance by violinist Glenn Dicterow was a little different then what I’m used to. There were many spots where his mood and emotion in his playing resulted in the notes being bunched up, creating strange rhythmic patterns as he started and stopped and so on, but it didn’t detract from the music. Spielberg’s intro to this was almost word for word what is on the back of the OST jacket. Thankfully neither of them told “the joke” (you people know what I’m talking about). Steven also said that this was his favorite score of John’s.
The E.T. finale was a dream come true. Literally…15 straight minutes of film and music. Considering the daunting task of keeping everything together, I think he did a beautiful job. The only place that was noticeably off was the finger lighting up. The chord strike was a good 1.5sec late. It ended up on the shot of E.T. saying “I’ll be right here…” which then made him hurray a bit more when E.T. goes back up the ramp. Other than that, he was right on.
There was also a little, tiny flub in the “Prayer for Peace”. When the music suddenly halts near the end, and then the bass comes back in with that long, solid note, the violins, for whatever reason, didn’t join the rest of the strings in playing the melody. They came in a beat or two late. Williams turned to them and started conducting right at them, like “get your ass on the ball!
I think a lot of the concert-goers were not aware of the fact that Williams wrote the NBC Mission theme. First, when he mentioned missing the news due to the concert running late (that one never gets old either…) and said, “this is the Mission theme…” the woman behind me said, “what did he say? NBC? Hewrote that music? Are you kidding..” then she got cut off by the violins doing their mad-dash in the beginning. Then when the horns chime in with the main statement, people, again…laughed. I suppose it’s all in good fun, but seriously folks…
The Leonard Bernstein tribute was the variation of themes from West Side Story that was done forBernstein’s 70th birthday in the late 80s.
And yes, Star Wars was freakin’ cool. It got the biggest applause of the night, so much so that it drowned out the opening blast!
I could go on and on, but I’m really exhausted. Later on my fellow JWFan.neters!
P.S. Just remembered something that might be important about the Mission theme. It wasn’t a new one with the new theme from the video link on the main page. It was the normal one, that I know from the “By Request…” CD.
P.P.S. Another thing. JW split about an hour after the concert ended. How do I know? Becauase about two dozen of us were waiting for him at the stage door that long. Eventually, word got to us by someone who had left the group, and was going to their car to leave, that Williams was making a quick getaway from the parking garage. So we all ran down to there, where a gathering was forming around Williams. I got within 5 feet of the guy before he got into his car. one of the staff members or personnel that was with him said that he had to go. His driver had to make a U-turn and come back passed us. Oddly, I was standing on the curb, sorta heart-broken, out in front of the group (the others were already turned around and beginning to leave behind me, and he waved at me. I quickly took my hand out of my pocket and returned the gesture as I held my unsigned score inserts in the other hand. I figured he was probably tired, or wasn’t up to standing there, signing autographs at 11:30pm in a parking garage, trying to remember that he’s 74, and just really isn’t up to it anymore.
Concert Review by Vince Hardy
The first half of the concert was about the music of Bernard Hermann and started with Death Hunt fromOn Dangerous Ground a soundtrack that I have to admit I was not familiar with but very Hermannesque and quite a good concert opener.
Then John Williams introduces his first guest: Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese started a little stiff just reading from his script giving a brief description of Bernard Hermann’s childhood and early years.
“The Inquirer” from Citizen Kane. If you have seen “Evening at Pops” aired on August 3, 2003 this is it and the New York Philharmonic was just as good as the Boston Pops.
Immediately followed by “Ballad of the Springfield Mountain” from The Devil and Daniel Webster and “Gallop: The Whip” from Currier and Ives Suite.
At this point you could already tell that Williams was in a playful mood and so was the Orchestra. Everything was flowing nicely and I guess it started to get to Martin Scorsese because he was noticeably more relaxed when he introduced the next segment dedicated to Hermann’s collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock.
“Scène D’amour” from Vertigo. Scorsese reminded the audience of how strongly the four simple notes of this theme were expressing guilt and obsession. Again great rendition from the New York Philharmonic featuring a passionate and animated John Williams.
“Prelude” and “The Murder” from Psycho was the first time the screen came down. It got a lot of laugh from the audience but I personally felt it was a bit of a letdown, not because of the execution which was impeccable but because it was a montage. I just feel that if you are going to have a concert about film music with a screen on stage you should play an unedited scene from the movie not a montage. Still it was quite enjoyable.
Then Martin Scorsese introduced the Music of Taxi Driver and this time was completely relaxed explaining how Bernard Hermann got involved with the project. He mentioned that originally Hermann did not want to compose the score because after learning what the title of the movie was he said he wasn’t composing music for movies about cabbies. He also told the story of how Hermann after finally reading the script was fascinated by Travis Bickle pouring Peach brandy on his cereals. Scorsese went on to explain that after finishing the editing of taxi Driver he felt that something was missing in the final scene when Travis look at Betsy in the rearview mirror and asked Hermann if he could come up with something, and the composer said “you need a sting”. Scorsese had no idea what he was talking about but said yes anyway. Ultimately Bernard Hermann came up with the sting and after putting it in the scene Scorsese went back to the composer and said “you know it’s OK but it’s not exactly that” and Hermann walked out on him saying “Then Play it backward!” which Scorsese did and it worked, unfortunately Hermann never saw the result, he died the next day.
The Selection from Taxi Driver was made of “Prelude/Night Prowl” and “Blues” with Albert Regni playing Alto Saxophone. Excellent performance.
The first part (bringing us to one hour already) concluded with “Prelude from North by Northwest” this was to me the weakest moment of the concert. This is by far my favorite Bernard Hermann composition and I can not understand why the screen came down for the second time and started playing random scenes from various Hitchcock movies (North by Northwest, The Birds, The Trouble with Harry, Rearview Window, the Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo,…) mixed with an assortment of photos from the director. I just thought it was incredibly distracting.
End of the first part.
After an intermission that seemed way too long (that first part was about 1 hour but I already wanted more) the Maestro came back on stage and opened the second part of the concert with something not on the program, the “Main Theme” from Jaws as heard on the Williams/Spielberg collaboration CD. It was brilliantly executed and got quite a reaction from the audience, then the composer introduced the filmmaker.
Steven Spielberg in turn introduced Close Encounters telling the crowd a few anecdotes about the making of the movie, the score and how important Williams’ music is important to this movie. The piece was as heard on the “By Request” album and was as amazing as in 2004.
The next item on the program was “Out to sea/Shark Fugue” from Jaws and once again Spielberg regaled the audience with stories of going out of his mind because of his broken shark and the power of suggestion of John Williams’ score. This was the only time in the concert I felt the Philharmonic wasn’t completely up to snuff. It wasn’t terrible but there were definitely some uncertainties in the brass section. Still totally magical.
Then came the first magical moment of the concert Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade withintroduction by the director.
Now some might argue that this in fact was seen on PBS in “Evening at Pops” but instead of John Williams doing the whole walk through of the scene without the score Steven Spielberg just took over that first part. But what really floored me was that the New York Philharmonic did it without a click track or visual cues… And they didn’t miss a beat! Completely, totally magical! The audience went wild and gave a standing ovation although as pointed by an earlier review the projection of the scene the first time during Spielberg’s comments was glitchy.
Spielberg said of the next piece that it was his favorite John Williams’ composition: Schindler’s List with a very moving performance by Glenn Dicterow at the violin.
Finally came the second magical moment of the concert and it brought me to tears. “Finale from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” with film. I’ve expressed my frustration in the first part of this review with screen content earlier that was not necessarily related to what was taking place with the orchestra and how it seemed a little gratuitous, but after a brief introduction from Steven Spielberg, we were treated to the full last 15 minutes of E.T. with sound effects and the Philharmonic again doing the high wire number with no safety net. Magical, moving. The audience went crazy and gave a standing ovation.
End of the brilliant second part.
Williams and Spielberg walk off the stage. After a couple of minutes Williams comes back and call Spielberg back on stage to thank him in front of the audience and announce the first encore: “A Prayer for peace” from Munich. Again as moving as the “Schindler’s List” performance.
He gets another standing ovation walks out. Then come back pick up the microphone and says “That’s right George Lucas is not here, but we’re going to play it anyway” and there goes “Star Wars – Main Title” just like in 2004. Standing ovation, he walks off then comes back.
The third encore was “To Lenny! To Lenny!” Written for Leonard Bernstein’s 70th birthday it is based on New York New York from On The Town and America from West Side Story. In 2004 it was the first encore and he pointed out at the time that he didn’t remember ever playing it in a concert. Well I guess that’s at least twice now. He walks off the stage then comes back for
Fourth encore NBC News – Mission Theme. Long version of the NBC News theme as heard on the “By Request” album.
Overall I did enjoy this concert a lot more than 2004. The philharmonic was very much at ease with the Herrmann material and they were so much more comfortable with John Williams’ work. Scorsese and Spielberg were definitely a plus and really entertained the audience…
I’m going back on Wednesday
Concert Review by Ted Pigeon
What a concert! The Scorsese half with the Herrman music was terrific, especially the sequence fromVertigo; spot-on perfection. The piece from Taxi Driver was incredible as well. Williams and the orchestra really captured the right sound for it.
The second half of the concert, as many have pointed out, really was like a dream. Spielberg was full of enthusiasm and the selection of pieces was perfect. Close Encounters was elegantly performed, especially the finale. I also loved how Williams silenced the pre-emptive audience. The Out to Sea/Shark Cage Fugue selection from Jaws was one of the most memorable pieces I’ve ever heard at a Williams concert. The Out to Sea section was a new arrangement that I especially liked, and the Shark Cage Fugue was the version from the OST which never appears in the movie, where it just keeps building, only Williams expanded on it even more with this arrangement. A truly magnificent piece of adventuruous music. I always think it’s great when Williams will perform pieces like this, which may not be as popular as main themes, but are a treasure for his true fans.
The Last Crusade section was so entertaining, though I didn’t like how Spielberg said exactly what Williams would do in some parts. I remember when Williams do something of the sort with Boston Pops a few years ago, he talked more about how the music needed to change direction here or there and talked about how he’d keep up with the action. I loved Spielberg’s humorous asides about the film too. When it was playing without music and they were running from car to car, he said, “I’m bored. Are you?” And then I almost fell off my chair laughing when he explained the magic car, in how he sees the magic sign and then says, “Magic?” In just the perfect tone, Spielberg says, “I put that line in, you know, in case the audience can’t read.” He said with such a dry sarcasm, like a comedian almost, that I found hilarious.
Schindler’s List was of course terrific. I still would like to hear something other than the main theme some day, perhaps I Could Have Done More or something like that. The soundtrack has so many more emotional variations of that theme, I don’t know why he always plays the main theme. Anyway, seeingE.T. was when it set in for me, when I realized I was experiencing the same magic I did as a kid seeing the film, watching the film and the orchestra, seeing Williams conduct and Spielberg sitting next to him. It was a moment I will never forget.
Overall, this was the best Williams concert that I’ve ever been to. There was a great energy to most of the pieces and the commentaries from Scorsese and Spielberg added much to the show.
Concert Review by ‘shadowbox’
I was at the concert last night and as everyone else has said it was a great night.
I was a little surprised that Martin Scorsese didn’t mention the “Tristan and Isolde” connection in the introduction for Vertigo. Hermann purposely adapted music from Wagner’s opera, the story of which has parallels with the story of Vertigo. The performance of the music from Vertigo was one of the highlights of the night and certainly the high point of the first act.
I’m a huge Bernard Hermann fan, but I’ve never been a big fan of the score from Taxi Driver. It never seemed right for the movie. Also, I wish they would have played either the prelude or finale from Citizen Kane instead of the Inquirer music.
What can be said about the second act? I was so thrilled to hear the music from Close Encounters. one of Williams’ most complex and original scores. And to see the entire final scene from E.T. (I think uncut), was incredible.
Hearing the Main Theme from Star Wars was a great treat. But, while I’m a big fan of the NBC music (especially Meet the Press, which he did not play), it didn’t really seem to fit the night’s program. Nonetheless, it sounded great and was interesting how many people in the audience had no idea that he wrote it.
One of the things I love about John Williams–and just shows you what a great guy he is–he loves to please his audience. He really just loves to perform. You could tell he was thrilled by the crowds reaction to Star Wars, and he was very gracious to come out for several encores. Bravo!
Concert Review by ‘Rogue Leader’
The show last night was stunning, I was particularly enthralled because not only did I finally get to see the Maestro himself John Williams perform in person but I also got to see Spielberg and Scorcese there as well.
I honestly had no idea the other two legendary filmakers were even planning to show up.
The first part of the show was compelling but not engrossing. I am not a big fan of Bernard Herrmann’s work. I recognise his immense talent as a composer and acknowledge his profound contrubutions to the medium of film music, but I have just never been as captivated by his music as some other composers.
The 2nd half for me was a real treat.
I especially loved the segment where Spielberg showed that clip from ‘Indy 3’ without the music first and described all the little cues and how Williams so perfectly tailored his music to practically every single shot.
The pinnacle of the show for me was (OF COURSE) finally getting to here John do his mythic Star Warstheme. Now I can die in peace. I was kind of aggravated during his other encores he did some other trivial pieces like West Side Story and such that seemed totally malapropos to the event and his music.
I was clamoring for Superman or Jurassic Park but to no avail, but alas the mere moments of seeing John work his magic in person was more than enough. To tell you the truth even more than 24 hours later I am still overwhelmed and find myself totally nonplussed. Nearly speechless after all of these years to have finally been graced by the prescence of the master himself.