Thursday, 4 December 2014

The man who made Miss Marple "hip"

I always love watching an orchestra at play; the dynamics of how each section works - the elegance of the synchronised string section, the "gadgetry" employed by the tympani just to elicit the right tinkling noise at the right time, the baffling variety of tubular things that can be included in woodwind and brass - and with a wonderful auditorium such as the Mermaid Theatre, a moderate space with its tiered seats never seeming too far from the stage, this opportunity is offered in abundance. [This is in contrast to the glittering St John's Smith Square, where we were on Saturday, whereby the audience and the orchestra are almost at the same level.]

So (again - we have been successful several times: see here, here, here, here and here), I was thrilled when I won free tickets in the BBC's "be in the audience" draw, to go along to the Mermaid last night to watch the BBC Concert Orchestra in a recording for the world's longest-running music programme, Radio 2's marvellous Friday Night is Music Night!

To remain with the "compare and contrast" between two ostensibly "classical" evenings, there is a vast and uncrossable chasm in most people's minds between the glories of Bach and Wagner and the movie-theme-dominated repertoire of Mr Ron Goodwin, but - as is my wont - I like both, so was hardly disappointed that the whole of last night's show was a dedication to the Plymouth-born composer.

Mr Goodwin worked on more than 70 film scores during his career, but his contribution to musical history was even wider than that - including Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren's immortal Goodness, Gracious Me!, orchestrations for hits by Petula Clark and Jimmy Young, jazz, swing and the critically acclaimed orchestral works (for his home town) the Drake 400 Suite and Armada Suite.

It was primarily the movie music that we were treated to last night, however. All beautifully and skilfully done (as if we could expect anything less from the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland, with lead violinist Rebecca Turner), some of the highlights included:

The brilliantly "hip" music for Margaret Rutherford's Miss Marple:

Music from the 1964 Kim Novak/Laurence Harvey film of Maugham's Of Human Bondage:

And, keeping up the "flying" theme (Mr Goodwin wrote for many a war film including Where Eagles Dare and Force 10 from Navarone) - 633 Squadron:

It was an enthralling and thoroughly enjoyable evening. Shame the programme itself isn't scheduled to be broadcast on Radio 2 until March 2015 (to mark Ron Goodwin's 90th anniversary), so you'll have to wait to hear me clapping!

Friday Night Is Music Night on the BBC website.

Ronald Alfred Goodwin (17th February 1925 – 8th January 2003)


  1. I am rather late in catching up with this post and am rather surprised that there are no comments
    Sounds like I missed a fab concert, again.

    1. It would seem we are the only Ron Goodwin fans out there...



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