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France LOTR Concert Review

February 13, 2006 at 11:48 am by xoanon  - 

Orodromeus writes: Hello fellow tolkiendili and TORn staffers! Just a few words on the concert of February 11th, 2006 in Lyon, France.

For the 2005-2006 season, dates for the Lord of the Rings Symphony in Europe are very few. France got 2 dates, and I believe there are 2 more in Germany. It was the first time the Symphony was presented in France, and oddly enough it didn’t happen in the capital, Paris, but in Lyon. The concert took place not in the usual Auditorium, which hosts classical music events, but in the Halle Tony Garnier, where the bigger concerts take place (Moby, System of the Down, etc). Terry Edwards was appointed as the conductor. During the Friday 10th concert, Edwards collapsed on stage and the concert was stopped there. Edwards was taken to a hospital and the audience was shown the exit. As much as I wish Mr. Edwards a quick recovery, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Friday audience…

I got a big scare when I heard the news, “the concert cancelled”! Last year I had missed the Symphony because of bad holiday timing, I certainly didn’t want to miss it again! But the Auditorium website announced the concert was still to be held, with Edwards’ chief assistant Scott Dunn taking over. I don’t know if the Lyon orchestra and chorus had rehearsed with Dunn at all, but thankfully it didn’t show and despite the added stress the concert was conducted without any problem (well, there was a small instant at The Breaking of the Fellowship where the orchestra wasn’t in synch but it was the only mistake I spotted). Dunn preceded the concert by saying in french, reading from a paper, that “tonight’s concert is dedicated to Terry Edwards”. The audience was vey varied, from the mother with her two kids between seven and ten next to me, and the group of elderly scholars of the soundtracks in front of me! I didn’t see any fans dressed as elves or gondorians though. As for me, I had printed the choral text translation and a friend of mine had brought the book. We were a group of 10 in all. We had got tickets with a reduced price because I had organized the event though our students’ arts club! Tolkien isn’t as successful in France as in anglo-saxon countries, but the hall was full.

I knew every bit of melody by heart of course, but the live LotR Symphony permitted me to notice all the little details that differed, which is all the fun in live concerts. We were seated quite far away from the stage, so most of what we heard essentially came from the speakers placed over the orchestra. It wasn’t as loud or as powerful as I expected it to be because that hall is enormous, but by Moria I was really immersed. I particularly enjoyed the violins, it was great to see the movements of the hands in concordance with the music, something you can only imagine when you listen to a recording. It was odd at times, there were some parts where the orchestra seemed to be in a rush, where the tempo was slightly accelerated compared to what I was used to: in the Lorien and right before In Dreams. The soprano for the Lament for Gandalf had a voice much deeper than Elizabeth Fraser’s, which gave it a whole different feeling; one which I wouldn’t exactly call elvish though.

Movement I was very short compared to Movement II. At the end of Movement II there was a pause and the concert began again nonstop till the end. I realized that the music in TTT and RotK is much more complex and demanding than the music for FotR; there were more instruments playing at the same time, more choruses, more everything! The sections for TTT (Movements III & IV) seemed very short to me. Time flies I guess! Whilst most of the movements were a compilation of themes one after the other, the transitions between musical phrases for RotK passed on much more unnoticed, taking us through Minas Tirith, the Pelennor Fields, Orodruin and back again. There is one gross mistake in the drawings projected above: Pelennor is spelt with only one ‘n’!

The soprano came in after the pause and did a wonderful job, I enjoyed the alternation between orchestra and solo moments, and the interaction with the orchestra when both played. I didn’t expect to hear songs in english, but there was In Dreams, Gollum’s Song and Into the West. Too bad there wasn’t May It Be – I guess for that we have to blame Howard Shore and Enya’s relationship. No notable french accent 🙂 The soprano for Aragorn’s coronation had a totally unexpected voice, one you would expect in an italian opera.

I was so much absorbed by the music that I didn’t take any pictures – I had sneaked my camera in even though pictures were not allowed. Others did, but not while the orchestra played. I confess that I had my mp3 player with me, and that I recorded part of the concert with its integrated microphone. I don’t intend to make a bootleg or something, I just wanted something special to keep out of this night; and the sound quality is very bad anyway, it’s just for me to reflect back upon. I wonder why no Symphony DVD has been released yet. The stands with merchandise sold well, as always.

Wow, hey that’s quite a text I wrote. I’m not much of a musician so these were random boring remarks but I have studied the music for LotR extensively, and I can say this was a pretty important moment for me. Two hours to summarize the whole work of Howard Shore is really short, you cut anything and it will lack too much; but it’s a nicely structured “best of” and a satisfying experience. And I’m sure I’ll be seeing it again some place else! Now excuse me, but there are some scenes the concert reminded me of that I want to see and read again!

Namarië

Posted in Old Special Reports on February 13, 2006 by

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