Review: The Music Of John Williams

Richard Kaufman
The Herald (Scotland)

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

By Michael Tumelty

Don’t let anyone tell you the RSNO can’t be versatile: the golden film music of John Williams on Saturday night, and the colossal, glittering, Turangalila Symphonie of Olivier Messiaen this coming Saturday.

The John Williams concert was an absolute stonker, a tear away success. Predictably, it had been sold out for months. There was not a ticket to be had. It was the fastest selling show this season. And if they do another, it should travel elsewhere in Scotland.

It was an exhilarating experience to witness the tangible buzz in the house, an infectious sensation; and the band, unsurprisingly, played their brains out: not a routine note was sounded in the auditorium.

The great themes from the great soundtracks were there: from Superman and Jurassic Park to Close Encounters, Star Wars and Jaws; from the highly original Harry Potter score to ET, with numerous less familiar scores, including Memoirs Of A Geisha and Far And Away, and the supreme Indiana Jones score held back for an encore.

It was a great show with a key presenter and conductor in Richard Kaufman, a former studio violinist; awee man in a grey suit who knew his business and let the RSNO blow everyone’s minds out without interfering with “interpretations”.

He also provided a fund of John Williams anecdotes: the original auditionees for the role of Han Solo included Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson (yikes!); he also related Williams’s reluctance to take on the score of Schindler’s List (hauntingly played by RSNO leader, Maya Iwabuchi) because it needed a good, serious composer. Steven Spielberg agreed, saying: “But they’re all dead.”A fantastic night.