Feb 6, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Did I tell you that I went to Radio City Music Hall to hear Ennio Morricone in concert? Why, you ask, would I do such a thing? For starters, because I had never been to Radio City before (like I haven't been to the Empire State Bldg or the Statue of Liberty). And I wanted to see Radio City before I die or it dies.
I love art deco. That's why. I'm glad I saw it. It is very swanky. Although it seems blasphemous to me that they project the name of corporate sponsors on the walls of the concert hall. How crass.
I must convey to the managers of the place, who are the same people who own Madison Square Garden, which is a total dump, that I do not appreciate to be treated almost like a prisoner in Guantanamo when I'm out for an expensive night of live music. The troglodytes that ask you to show your tickets and open your bag at Radio City are extremely rude and I've had it, HAD IT, with security being a pretext for rude, arrogant and mean behavior. I am neither a terrorist nor a criminal and I do not deserve to be treated as a prisoner in a penal colony; much less if I'm attending a civilized event like a musical concert.
I am up to my imaginary balls with rude security agents at this country's airports, and rude security people in general. That most of them have probably never made it beyond the sixth grade but are now allowed to feel powerful and behave like goons with a badge is something that we have tolerated for way too long, and it is about time we stopped. They should all be trained in basic human courtesy, because as we say in Spanish, lo cortés no quita lo valiente. Being courteous will not make you less courageous. Assholes.
Now, back to Ennio. It was quite thrilling to hear some of this prolific composer's amazingly effective music for the screen. He opened with his theme for The Untouchables, which is fantastic. Then he played too many of his schmaltzy tunes, some of which are very beautiful, like his score for Cinema Paradiso or Malena, but most of which sounds like the same song.
I would have liked him to play his amazing music for The Battle of Algiers. Instead he played a really interesting score from Quemada, the Brazilian film. I didn't feel that the concert was short, like Stephen Holden did, but I did feel the selection was odd. There should have been more diverse scores. And because the venue is so huge, the orchestra had to be miked, and though we could hear pretty well in the nosebleed section, it was a shame that it was distorted and flattened by amplification.
In general, the concert was one of those vulgar affairs with extravagant ticket prices and a horribly designed program by some misguided graphic designer who I have a feeling must be the cousin of the producer. Mr. Morricone's demeanor, although correct and rather icy, was very awkward; he's probably not used to perform in public. And there is nothing tackier than someone using the PA system in a voice straight from the Soprano's hood in Jersey to introduce the producer of the event first, one of those impressarios who are responsible for abominations like The Three Tenors, and then the maestro. We all know what we're there for, so why announce it like you're in Grand Central? The chorus didn't know when to sit down or when to stand up, and the oboe soloist who had just played a beautiful solo from The Mission got up in the middle of the proceedings, like he needed to use the toilet, or his wife was giving birth, and he never came back to take a bow. Weird. There was an encore and then the orchestra sat on the stage for a long time and I didn't understand what was happening, and most probably neither did they.
Of course, we were there to hear the fun scores for the Sergio Leone films. And hearing live the classic theme from The Good, The Bad, etc, was very thrilling. It is clear that Morricone influenced film music tremendously and his scores are lush, dynamic and highly emotional. My favorite is still the one and only Nino Rota, who I find to be much less schmaltzy and much more genuine than Morricone, but there is no doubt that Ennio wrote some nifty scores.

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