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Music Review

Bowl's Movie Night a Nearly Seamless Success

September 22, 1997|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If you're going to do a concert of film music, this is the way to do it. Beef up the orchestra and show film clips. Preferably these should be scenes the music was written for, but montage sequences with careful coordination between sight and sound will work well too.

This was the approach taken by conductor John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in a "Musical Salute to Twentieth Century Fox" on Friday at the Hollywood Bowl, highlighting composers Alfred Newman, Alex North, David Raksin, Richard Rodgers, Leslie Bricusse, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, David Arnold and Stephen Flaherty.

A screen half the height and almost the width of the Bowl shell hung above the ever-genial Mauceri and allowed the audience to see excerpts from "How to Marry a Millionaire," "Cleopatra," "The Sound of Music," "The Robe," "Planet of the Apes," "Independence Day" and the animated film in progress "Anastasia." Add a montage devoted to the irrepressible Carmen Miranda and at encore time a clip from the "Star Wars" trilogy.

The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, augmented to 100 players and occasionally reinforced by the Mitch Hanlon Singers, sounded great. Liz Callaway sang two songs from "Anastasia."

But Mauceri was the focal point as much as any concerto soloist. He had, as he amiably pointed out, the formidable task of fitting the flexible live sound to the inflexible filmed image. This is the kind of thing he does best, however, and there were no real glitches. Well, there was a long pause while projectionists changed reels for the "Independence Day" montage and Callaway did marginally get out of sync with her screen counterpart in "Once Upon a December."

Not much of this music, apart from original songs, can stand as strongly alone as it does with visual accompaniment. But Raksin's 1944 "Laura" (arranged by Richard Stone) is a classic exception, and Elfman's title music and "Ice Dance" from "Edward Scissorhands" (1990) may soon join it in the narrow winner's circle.

As in the case of the films themselves, the list of people contributing significantly to the concert's success is extensive. Besides the musicians and singers, they include, among others, music arrangers Stone, Mark McGurty, Nan Schwartz Mishkin and Doug Besterman and film editors David Comtois, Abby Schwarzwalder and Scott Morgan.

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