On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa (BOS) conducted by Anthony Gabriele performed the movie ‘Vertigo’ (1958, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) in concert, with the immersive and sublime music of Bernard Herrmann.
Asier G. Senarriaga attended this concert, and offers us a special article exclusively for SoundTrackFest.
CONCIERTO EN DIRECTO DE LA PARTITURA DE BERNARD HERRMANN
LIVE TO PICTURE CONCERT WITH BERNARD HERRMANN’S SCORE
SYNCHRONIZED TO ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S CLASSIC MOVIE
Teatro Arriaga Theater, Bilbao, Bizkaia (Spain). We had an appointment with the movie ‘Vertigo’, the immortal Alfred Hitchcock’s classic form 1958. One of the best movies in history according to the American Film Institute and according to my humble opinion, and one of the best compositions not only by Bernard Herrmann, one of the greatest in history without possible discussion, but of all time, was going to be performed live.
We were going to live the unforgettable experience of feeling that music in front of the film for which it was conceived, and experiencing it cinematographically on the big screen, for many people for the first time, with a perfect copy, a magnificent sound, an exceptional performance of the of the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa (BOS) – Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, and a portentous conducting of Maestro Anthony Gabriele. Undoubtedly, one of those moments that, let me cite Natalie Wood in another eternal film, “like the glory in the flowers and the splendor in the grass, will remain forever in our memory.”
If something makes a concert of this type, with a symphonic orchestra performing a score in a synchronized way while the film is being projected, a complicated mission, is the amount of points that must be covered perfectly, with a precise timing, the correct intensity, and an immaculate tempo. You can’t fall short or go longer, and if that happens, you have to correct on the go, because you cannot start again, and everything has to come together, to make the whole thing work.
Anthony Gabriele is an orchestra conductor who dominates the nuances, who understands the orchestra and knows how to feel it, who knows how to convey to each instrument and performer its meaning, and give confidence and integrate his/her contribution in a wonderful way with the rest of the orchestra, without forgetting a flourish, that contributes to the global sensation. And with the work of Bernard Herrmann, fascinating, intoxicating, subtle, magical, and above all, complicated, extremely complicated, that is not an easy task.
However, the performance echoed excitingly, bringing us into the mind of John “Scottie” Ferguson, just as the composer modeled, rising us from our seats in his ascension dominated by the Vertigo, to the tower of the Spanish mission, freezing our breath with the Kiss between Madelyne and Scottie while the central theme explodes for the first time in all its glory, with a string section combining power, lyricism, and dramatic tension in an unusual balance.
We were able to live the vision of a transformation, in green tones, and a camera circling in 360 degrees two lovers who are not destined to see their happiness eternalize, in one of those circles of the trees that so metaphorically introduces Hitchcock in the history, until finally, having one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful and terrible endings of the history of cinema, with an overwhelming symphonism closing a great work of film music, and an exceptional concert, where at times, Mr Gabriele transmuted into a more affluent figure, with an inquiring look behind his proven talent, making us feel that it was Bernard Herrmann who conducted the orchestra at the Arriaga, in a cold February afternoon, of the year 2020.
And when we left the venue, after concluding the magnificent concert, we could only feel that Hitch’s image announcing the event on the screens and posters, had slightly changed his face, and now was smiling satisfied, with a slight light of joy, contained within his habitual cynicism and playful seriousness, having managed to transmit the Vertigo to his entire audience.
Article and pictures by Asier G. Senarriaga