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2014年11月30日 星期日

Hollywood Thrillers: Film Music (驚慄荷里活)

Film Music is a very very much underrated musical genre. Often, we are moved by it without even noticing it. We really ought to forget that mindless nonsense which we still hear from time to time to the effect that film music is "best" when it is unnnoticed: it's dangerous because it is a half-truth. It has a certain superficial plausibility to it which hides the fact that very often film music can positively add to the effect a film produces by enriching our  esthetic enjoyment of the complexity of our cinematic experience precisely because it portrays a mood which precisely may be the opposite of the "natural" mood of the action unfurling on the silver screen eg. a scene of bloody violence may be accompanied by some calm, well balanced baroque, classical or even some very "romantic" melody or alternatively an idyllic scene of two lovers kissing in in soft light on a beach may be accompanied by music with harsh rhythms and discordant sounds to highlight the contrast between surface of "reality" and some deeper subterranean clashes and the secret motives and secret intentions of the characters on the screen: the music can serve not only to "enhance" the mood of the relevant action, but can also hint at some underlying reality or form an ironic "comment" on the action. Whatever the effect of music on the film may be, we got the chance to sample the music written for some thrillers by 3 famous 20th film music composers Bernard Hermann (1911-1975), Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)and Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) last Saturday.

Bernard Hermann has co-operated with Alfred Hitchcock on numerous films including All That Money Can Buy (1941), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958) North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960). He also composed scores for many other movies, including Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941), Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951), Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" (1947), Lee J Thomson's "Cape Fear" (1962), and Martin Scorese's "Taxi Driver" (1976) and for Rod Serling's TV series "The Twilight Zone" (1959-1964) and "Have Gun–Will Travel" (1957-1963).

A second renowned film music composer is the Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa (1907 -1995) who wrote more than  a hundred film scores including Alexander Korda's "The Thief of Baghdad "(1940), Henry Hathaway's "Sundown" (1941), Zoltan Korda's "Jungle Book" (1942), Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944) and "Spellbound" (1945) (Oscar award), Geroge Cukor's "A Double Life" (1947, another Oscar), Vincente Minelli's "Madame Bovary" (1949), Melvyn LeRoy's "Quo Vadis" (1951), Richard Thorpe's "Ivanhoe" (1952), William Wyler's "Ben Hur" (1959), Nicholas Ray's  "King of Kings" (1961) etc.

We usually think of Leonard Bernstein as just a renowned conductor. Not very many know that he wrote music for musicals like Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly's "On The Town (1944) converted into a film (1949) "Wonderful Town" (1953) "1600  Pennsylvania Avenue" (1976) but also music for the films  Elia Kazan's " On the Waterfront" (1954) which made Marlon Brando  famous and Jerome Robins and Robert Wise's "West Side Story" (1961).

We had 4 pieces by Hermann's that evening: his Vertigo Suite, Taxi Driver, the theme song of North by Northwest, The Psycho Suite.










We also had one piece from Rozsa: his "Double Indemnity Suite" .




To conclude the concert, we had Leonard Bernstein's "On the Waterfront-Symphonic Suite"



The HKPO was led by Nick Davies the Chief Conductor of Vanta Pops Orchestra of Finland and also worked with various orchestras in Norway, England, Spain, Italy, Australia, America and China. We get a full range of the use of orchestra in film: the moods portrayed in the various pieces are extremely varied: they include, inter alia, sense of mystery, suspense, lazy relaxation, anticipation, eeriness, fear, confusion, passion, loneliness, sadness and a sense of relief and even romance. A very rich platter of emotions indeed for the evening.