We have to remember that there’s never been a “silent” film. Even before “talkies,” there was music — usually live music — underscoring the action on the screen. So, when Lincoln Center’s John Goberman started producing the wonderfully exciting orchestral-movie presentations, which split the dialogue from the music soundtrack of blockbusters such as “Carousel” and “Oklahoma!” and gave the live music to a full symphony orchestra while the action (and conversation) took place on the screen, he proved everything old is new again, even art forms.
Most recently, Goberman returned to Sarasota with a Hitchcock program featuring “To Catch a Thief,” “Strangers on a Train,” “Dial M for Murder” and “North by Northwest,” with their superstar casts (Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, Ray Milland) on the Van Wezel’s screen and the superlative music (Murray, Tiomkin and Herrmann) played outstandingly by the Sarasota Orchestra, conducted consummately by Andrew Lane. Enough with the adverbs. Suffice it to say, this stuff is fun for us and a bear-of-a-program for the orchestra to play.
“It’s harder than the Mahler we did a couple of weeks ago,” noted one musician as he staggered out of the concert hall. “This stuff is really hard.”
Of course it is. The studio musicians who played it for the original movies could stop and start, record and re-record. Live performances don’t have that luxury, and when composers such as Dmitri Tiomkin and Bernard Herrmann set the stage for the stuff of dreams on the screen, they meant business.
Fortunately, our orchestra is up to the task, and this recent foray into movie music was more spectacular than cinemascope. It’s like aural 3-D. And Goberman’s approach, which is charming and illuminating, adds still another dimension.
Yes, there were times the orchestra overpowered the film’s voice track, but, in this case, the music was the star, outshining even Grant and Kelly and, most importantly, furthering the action on the screen. These are innovative, fun, elucidating programs, and we hope they continue in the future.