This week on the Houston Symphony Broadcast, the orchestra presents two works by composers best known for their film scores, along with a set of "dances" for orchestra that seem to sum up the career of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The concert begins with the overture to The Sea Hawk, a Warner Bros. film from 1940 starring Errol Flynn, with music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Korngold's name is almost synonymous with the classic Hollywood film score, and his music certainly embodies that swashbuckling aesthetic.
Following that is Collage, a work by modern film composer James Horner and this time purely for the concert hall. Though originally premiered in London in March of 2015, this piece was a co-commission by the Houston Symphony and the International Horn Society, and this particular performance in 2016 was the North American premiere, occurring just under a year after Horner's unfortunate death in an airplane crash.
The piece is styled as a concerto for four horns and orchestra, and this performance by the symphony features soloists David Pyatt and Richard Watkins, who had worked with Horner previously on his film scores, as well as William VerMeulen and Robert Johnson.
The concert concludes with the final work by Sergei Rachmaninoff, the Symphonic Dances. As his last work, many see this piece as a summation of the composer's career, even including quotes from previous pieces like the opening theme of his Symphony No. 1, the ninth movement of the All-Night Vigil, and of course the Dies irae plainchant that he was fond of quoting in many of his works.
Tune in for this concert Sunday (9/18) on News 88.7 or next Wednesday (9/21) on Houston Public Media Classical at 8 PM.