Yesterday, the Orquesta Sinfónica del Vallès – OSV conducted by composer Marc Timón, featuring pianist Gloria Cheng, performed at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, Spain a concert tribute to maestro John Williams entitled ‘John Williams, forever’.
Here you can read a brief commentary of the concert and see some pictures by Gorka Oteiza.
NOTE: Soon we will publish a full article of the evening, which will be followed by the interviews we had with Gloria Cheng and Marc Timón, exclusively for SoundTrackFest.
Two hours of music by John Williams and Marc Timón, almost in equal parts, flooded the monumental and spectacular Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona last night.
I will talk some other time about the majestic building, a world heritage site, which makes the imagination fly beyond the pieces being performed, complementing and enhancing their effect to the senses. Today, it is time to focus on the music…
I would like to highlight in last night’s program the two concert works that we were able to enjoy exclusively: the ‘Prelude and Scherzo for piano and orchestra’ by John Williams, in a World and European premiere respectively, and the tribute to John Williams composed by Marc Timón ‘The Beacon’, also in a world premiere.
The ‘concerto for piano and orchestra’ -if I may use the expression-, already had a first movement premiered in 2014, the Scherzo, and was now complemented with a Prelude, which had its world premiere in Barcelona, coinciding with the celebration of the European Day of Music: June 21.
Williams’ work gained in development and serenity by adding the Prelude as an introduction to the Scherzo, and we could see how the piano dialogued calmly but intensely with the orchestra, to lead us to a Scherzo somewhat harsh at times and occasionally aggressive, in which we found passages where we could glimpse the symphonic traces so characteristic of Williams’ compositions. Gloria Cheng‘s performance was great, leaving us wanting to savor more of her art and mastery at the piano, as this was the only moment of the concert in which she participated.
The piece composed by Marc Timón expressly for this concert, “The Beacon”, was a heartfelt tribute to John Williams, referring to the role of a “lighthouse that guides the way” that the maestro has played for so many people. The piece, about 12 minutes long, offered a very nice thematic and melodic development, where we could see winks and tributes to Williams but keeping Timón’s own style. A tribute to the cinematographic works of the maestro, and to all those memories that listening to his music evokes in us.
The three blocks of Marc Timón‘s scores: Witches, Coliseum, and The Little Wizard, each divided into three movements, were a breath of fresh orchestral air, with a variety of melodic, action, magical, romantic, grandiose, or intimate passages depending on the moment, offering music rarely heard live and of great symphonic quality.
The weak point of the evening was perhaps the last block dedicated to Williams’ best-known soundtracks: Harry Potter, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, ET, and Star Wars. An orchestra, and especially a brass section, which would have benefited from a break in a concert that lasted 2 hours non-stop, tackled a somewhat irregular final block. In it we could highlight the stupendous interpretation of ‘Schindler’s List’ or a very convincing ‘Jurassic Park’, confronted by a ‘Leia’s Theme’ that ended too abruptly, or a suite from ‘Harry Potter’ a bit disconcerting at times, although pleasant as a whole.
The audience’s applause was answered with an encore: ‘Indiana Jones – Raider’s March’, with the brass section already to the limit, although very well tucked by the orchestra; an orchestra committed to the program, under the baton of a very precise Marc Timón, who controlled the stage at all times, and who shone with his own light both as a conductor and as a composer, next to a great maestro such as John Williams.
In short, an evening that, despite the way the final part developed, offered a program of the highest quality, complex to perform, varied, and unusual; not every day one has the opportunity to witness the world premiere of a work by John Williams.
It was not an easy task, but the OSV and Timón succeeded, and a full house at the Palau de la Música witnessed it.
Article and pictures by Gorka Oteiza