We continue with the third of the articles dedicated to the cultural activities of the Princess of Asturias Awards 2020, where legendary composers Ennio Morricone and John Williams are being honored, with several thematic concerts (read more).
On Monday, October 12, the concert ‘Chamber Concert – Morricone-Williams’ took place, performed by the Enol Ensemble to review some of the outstanding pieces composed by Ennio Morricone & John Williams.
Now, you read a special review article written by the composer Pablo Laspra, Director of the “Oviedo FilmMusic Live!” festival, especially for SoundTrackFest.
Following the events organized by the Princess of Asturias Foundation for the week of the awards and as a third musical concert, we have been able to attend a chamber concert with several pieces by Ennio Morricone and John Williams adapted to a chamber format of string quartet and piano, with the occasional incorporation of oboe in certain pieces.
The group in charge of the performance, as in the previous concerts, has been a local group, “Enol Ensemble“, formed by Cristina Gestido (viola), Tatevik Khachatryan (violin), Blanca Fernández (violin), Teresa Valente-Pereira (cello), Mario Bernardo (piano), and Juan Ferriol (oboe).
The room chosen this time was different from the previous concerts (also in the abandoned but adapted Fábrica de Armas de Oviedo), although it was larger in size, it housed the same amount of audience approximately, but distributed independently throughout the room in individual chairs (remember that, in the other concerts, the spectators were grouped in blocks of 1 and 2 people together).
The concert began with an easily recognizable piece for all lovers of American nationalism, represented by the great Aaron Copland: the traditional “Simple Gifts”, based on a folk song by American day laborers, and which Copland popularized in his ballet “Appalachian Spring” performed in Williams‘ own adaptation of the theme. A brilliant and joyful performance, which served as the perfect opening for this concert.
Afterwards, Morricone and Williams‘ themes were alternated without an apparent sense of organization, neither by years nor by styles. Perhaps grouped by textures or sonorities, but it was not clear without an exhaustive analysis. The piece “Deborah’s Theme” from “Once upon a time in America” deserves special mention, with a special impact on the audience and a careful interpretation by the orchestra. The theme “Playing Love” from “The Legend of 1900” was also a breath of fresh air with its beautiful sonorities and enharmonic modulations, that the composer wanted to use in the development of the film.
Most of the arrangements had the quality expected for an event of these characteristics, although the piece “Dartmoor 1912 (War Horse)” by Williams was somewhat lightly orchestrated, as it is a piece with varied figures, fast, and with a clear American style based on the hoey-downs of the purest “coplandesque” style.
The arrangement of the Harry Potter theme opened with a brief excerpt from the classic Hedwig’s leitmotif to the celesta (in this case piano), to give way to Aunt Marge’s waltz (from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”), which, although it is not one of the best and most recognized pieces composed by Williams for this saga, was easily reducible to a quartet format.
Great interpretation by Juan Ferriol at the oboe, in the well-known theme of “The Mission”, where he managed to captivate the audience with a penetrating, pacifying, and above all, musically dense sound due to the depth of the interpretation.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes (if the license is allowed) has been to leave for the end one of Maestro Williams’ best known pieces: the final credits of “Star Wars IV”, a piece originally rich in instrumental coloratura, densely orchestrated, and with great presence in the use of the orchestra, reduced to a string quartet playing almost all the original parts of the original score, where the lack of the remaining 75% of the orchestra was noted.
Maybe closing with “Adventures on Earth” from E.T., for example, would have been a success, as it is a piece that, although it is also written for symphonic orchestra, its great virtuosic part at the piano and its subsequent string theme would have fit much better as a final touch.
However, the group “Enol Ensemble” did a great job, and fulfilled completely their mission in this new musical evening.
Now we have to wait to the symphony concert performed by the Principality of Asturias Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by Óliver Díaz (lead composer of Oviedo FilmMusic Live!), and Andrea Morricone (son of the recently deceased composer Ennio Morricone), which will take place next Thursday, October 15th: unfortunately, with a capacity reduction of 70%, where it has been impossible to get a ticket for most of the regular attendees of this kind of concerts.
Article and pictures by Pablo Laspra Ferrero
Composer and director of FilmMusic Live!