Review: SUPERMAN IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall

A magical performance of John Williams' majestic score

By: Jun. 26, 2022
Review: SUPERMAN IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall

Review: SUPERMAN IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall Despite the relentless advance of the modern Marvel franchise, the 1978 film of Superman remains one of the best comic book films ever made. This is, in no small part, due to John Williams' remarkable and iconic score that was nominated for an Academy Award.

Williams' music is as closely associated with the film as Christopher Reeve's performance and so it was thrilling to see the long-awaited Superman in Concert in the majestic Royal Albert Hall.

The film itself needs no introduction, but what this concert version highlights is just how much music there is in the film. Conducted by an animated Anthony Gabriele and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the film and its music were shown off in all their glory.

Gabriele has vast experience of conducting orchestras to films and it shows. He brought out all the drama and nuance of the score, almost dancing as he energetically led an orchestra in sparkling form.

The famous opening fanfare was glorious; evoking all the fantasy and power of the film as the music shimmers through the theme. It was bold and rousing, bringing the concept of a true superhero to life. The horns were on particularly good form here, with the iconic 'singing' of the word "Superman", as clever and effective as ever.

This live-to-picture performance enhances the symphonic qualities of the score. "The Planet Krypton" is a magnificent score highlight, which features a full version of the Krypton Fanfare. The fanfare is almost Straussian as it rises; a tribute to Williams' skill of capturing the grandeur of Krypton.

Williams' theme for the Man of Steel is the backbone of the entire score, weaving skilfully in and out of the myriad of compositions. It evokes heroism, optimism and nobility. It is instantly recognisable and that is a huge part of the success of the score.

The film is nearly 45 years old, so it's no surprise that some of the special effects look at little clunky, but the section set on Krypton as it is destroyed has held up surprisingly well.

Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder still captivate as the central couple and the love theme is one of the highlights of the score. In the famous scene where Superman picks up Lois to take her flying with him, the orchestra takes the music sweeping and soaring in beautiful tandem.

Gene Hackman remains an excellent villain as Lex Luther and the slapstick qualities of the music, as it follows the actions of him and his hapless sidekicks, is both funny and slickly performed.

John Williams was not just an amazing composer, but an incredibly eloquent storyteller. The score for Superman is one of his best pieces of work and yet another example of why the Royal Albert Hall has made another excellent selection for its Films in Concert series.

Royal Albert Hall's Films in Concert series continues with Titanic Live on 10 July


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