A classical music blog by music critic Tim Mangan
Review: Copeland’s ‘Ben-Hur’ is a booming bust. The Orange County Register, March 20, 2016.
classical music, reviews
film music, Pacific Symphony, Stewart Copeland
March 21, 2016
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Hi Tim, It was great fun talking with you Friday night right before ” Ben-Hur”. Having just now read your review, I concur wholeheartedly with your take on it. As mentioned the other night, I subscribed to the pops series mainly due to the caliber of singers this season. But doing so always comes with certain misgivings, not the least of which is the use of amplified sound instead of the hall’s natural acoustics. Making the aural adjustment has always been a challenge, this time even more so. This film-plus-live-orchestra-experience was decidedly less satisfying than the previous one I attended several years ago when the same film was screened at the Orpheum Theatre in L.A. If only you could have attended that version instead. In the opulent surroundings of that historic venue, Robert Israel conducted his own more traditional score, sans amplification. (He did other silent films, too). There was the added advantage of seeing the film in all its glory on a conventional-sized movie screen, not that small, wholly inadequate flat screen suspended above the musicians. To say that Israel’s score was better suited to the film than what we witnessed Friday night would be an understatement. Given Stewart Copeland’s participation in this project, the overemphasis on drums and other assorted percussive paraphernalia wasn’t entirely unexpected. But in so many instances, his score (and the excessive amplification of it) overwhelmed the film, subtracting from the overall experience rather than enhancing it. There were some effective passages, but more often than not it provided a most unwelcome distraction to what was happening on-screen. See you at the next event! Bob
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