Thursday, 14th of July 2011
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Complete James Bond
What a night! It was definitely something completely different to experience a full orchestra, additionally equipped with two guitars (electric and acoustic) and loads of percussion, doing the complete Bond theme songs, from Dr. No (1962) to Quantum of Solace (2008).
Within the context of the Rheingau Musik Festival the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London under conduction of Carl Davis offered the listener a variety of sounds, from soft and charming to aggressive and irascible. Davis, who seems to have an affection for extravagant tailcoats, appeared in a radiant, shiny blue tailcoat and a bronzy glitter tailcoat – I must say, it suited the occasion indeed! He conducted the orchestra brilliantly, moving happily with the rhythm.
The musicians were absolutely synchronous, had an exact timing and a wonderful interplay.
Presenting powerful numbers such as Goldfinger (originally sung by Shirley Bassey in 1964) or rather delicate pieces like Nobody Does It Better (1977) they showed off their versatility. Accompanied by the talented singer Mary Carewe the evening sometimes seemed more like a rock concert, but still had that extraordinary atmosphere which you always will experience when an orchestra plays a score live. Carewe had an intense stage presence, changing her gowns throughout the evening. It was only a bit sad that the lighting was too dark, she didn’t even have a spotlight and sometimes her voice seemed a bit too low even though she had a microphone. Still, it’s a difficult task to sing against a whole orchestra, especially when most songs were predominantly brass-heavy. Nonetheless, her performance was outstanding, presenting a stunning voice range, especially when doing Alicia Keys’ Another Way to Die (2008).
To round the performance off, well-known actor Dominique Horwitz led the audience through the concert, with convincing witty comments and informative facts about Agent 007.
As for the pieces themselves, it was interesting to hear the similarities between them – although almost all of them were written by different composers, the trademark wah-wah-effect of the trumpets and some motives which we automatically connect to ‘danger’, ‘secret agents’ and James Bond himself emerged in every song. I found it especially strinking with Goldfingerand Licence to Kill (1989), also I recognised where Robbie Williams got his intro to Millenium from (You Only Live Twice from 1967 is the hint you’re looking for).
All in all, an interesting evening with a splendid orchestra in a lovely location – I was wondering when Bond himself would be stepping onto the stage… anyway, this evening definitely did Her Majesty’s most famous Secret Agent justice.