Houston Symphony “Bonds” Well with Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Audience

It was one of those memorable late-summer nights at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion when the audience could barely believe its good fortune in hearing the delights of the Houston Symphony’s wonderful film tribute titled, “James Bond: License to Thrill.” Skillfully conducted by the always good-humored Michael Krajewski, (Principal Pops Conductor), the program delivered what it promised: truly thrilling music from the exciting John Barry film scores of numerous Bond films. First up was the Theme from “Goldfinger,” with a richness and seductive power that seemed to at once wrap its musical arms around the appreciative audience. The familiar and enticing melody featured wonderful work from both brass and strings. Krajewski also shared bits of Bond trivia with the audience. (I.E. The first film in the series was “Dr. No,” and there have so far been six actors who played James Bond.) To add to the fun, with his notoriously wry humor, he had little audience quizzes (I.E. Which was a James Bond film?: 1.“Fireball” 2. “Thunderball” 3. “Butterball” 4. “Matzah Ball”).

Next came the oriental flavors of the “Theme from You Only Live Twice,” which seemed to immediately sweep us away to far-off places, with especially nice work from the orchestra’s percussion and timpani. Then, exploding right out of the gate, there was a satisfying pairing of music from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” and “A View to a Kill,” featuring first pounding, pulsing rhythms, then thoughtful, dreamlike delicacy, and finally a spirited and adventurous conclusion. This portion of the program concluded with the sweeping musical vistas of the familiar “Diamonds Are Forever.”

Krajewski introduced the next segment as a recognition of “…other famous international crime busters.” First was Elfman‘s, “Theme from Batman,” which seemed to rise darkly from some smoky underworld and then march on to thrilling heights full of musical suspense and tension. Then came John Williams’ charming “Love Theme from Superman.” With the orchestra’s strings at their serene best, one almost had the sense of being pleasantly adrift on some lovely, tranquil sea. Following that came Elfman’s “Music from Spider-Man.” With thunderous power and immediate excitement, the work opened like a furiously buzzing bee, and then shifted to the delicacy of an autumn leaf drifting gently to earth before moving to the selection’s shimmering conclusion.

For a lighter mood we had Mancini’s cheerfully delightful “Inspector Clousseau Theme from The Pink Panther.” It featured all the bouncing mirth and merriment movie-goers associate with the bumbling detective. As if that was not enough Mancini joy for the evening, Krajewski then surprised the audience conducting an unscheduled performance of the original sly, and delicious, “Pink Panther Theme,” highlighted by outstanding work from the orchestra’s flutes, and stunning solo moments on saxophone from Richard Nunemaker.

The finale, Tyzik’s thrilling arrangement of, “The Best of Bond,” captured the overall spirit of Barry’s prolific scores for the films, and served as a vivid reminder of how music that we may have sometimes taken for granted had so effectively drawn audiences into the James Bond world. The roaring standing ovation that followed was rewarded with what seemed a perfect encore: “The Theme from Mission Impossible.”

Coming Attractions at the pavilion include Houston Ballet’s “Carnival of Dance,” (8p.m. Friday, October 5th), “Copeland’s American Landscape, (Houston Symphony-Friday, October 19th 7:30 p.m.), Houston Symphony’s fun-filled, “Hocus Pocus Pops,” (7:30 p.m. Friday, October 26th), and the “13th Annual Children’s Festival ,” (Saturday, November 10th at 10 a.m. and Sunday November 11th at 12 noon). For tickets and information call 281-363-3300, or visit the website at www.woodlandscenter.org.

(The Courier    9.2.07)

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.
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