Classical review: RSNO: Hollywood Heroes and Superheroes, Usher Hall

HOLLYWOOD films are full of heroes and superheroes, and even heroines, so there was no shortage of material for conductor Richard Kaufman and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to mine for this concert.

The RSNO playing at the Usher Hall. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The RSNO playing at the Usher Hall. Picture: Ian Rutherford

RSNO: Hollywood Heroes and Superheroes | Rating: *** | Usher Hall, Edinburgh

It was a rather subdued start with the sweeping strings of Ennio Morricone’s The Untouchables, and the wide open prairies evoked in John Barry’s John Dunbar theme from Dances with Wolves, feeling the lack of the visual images for which they were written.

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However, the mood brightened as the brass blasted out the familiar March from John Williams’ Superman and the woodwind section demonstrated just what a classy orchestrator Williams is with their agile and witty version of the Nimbus 2000 theme from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. With rumbling woodwind riffs set against piccolo flourishes this magical piece could easily stand alone in the concert hall.

Likewise Danny Elfman’s inspirational Suite from Spider-Man; a complex, episodic score that covers the entire emotional journey of the film in just seven minutes.

Kaufman’s Hollywood-insider introductions were slick and insightful but he met his match in Lee Hutchinson, who he randomly (?) plucked out of the audience to read Captain James T Kirk’s famous Star Trek voice-over.

The Trekkie debated whether it should be “no-one” or “no man” who boldy goes forth in Alexander Courage’s theme from the 1960s’ cult television series.

Other highlights were Monty Norman’s James Bond theme and its spoof companion George Clinton’s Chagadelic Suite from Austin Powers, along with Patrick Doyle’s rhapsodic pipe and whistle-filled score for Brave.