It’s an easy sell: I like movies, I like movie soundtracks, and I like live music. I mean, who doesn’t?
With the New York Philharmonic’s “Art of the Score” series, the historic Manhattan symphonic org has struck programming gold.
Under last night night’s rain at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall, I took-in a sold-out screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 award-winning drama, “There Will Be Blood,” set against a live performance of Jonny Greenwood’s evocative, original score played by the NYPhil.
The film’s protagonist is the award-winning British actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, as the self-made oil baron, Daniel Plainview, based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 book “Oil!” about the raw-boned oilmen of the late-19th/early-20th century who struck liquid gold armed with nothing but pure determination, nerve, and ingenuity.
For all the right reasons, PTA’s award-winning iconic film routinely rounds-out cinema’s top lists, and it’s aged magnificently with its eternal themes of the early American pioneers who shaped the country’s greatest industries, as well as its greatest scandals: Sinclair’s novel loosely concerns the uber-corrupt Warren G. Harding administration and the Teapot Dome Scandal bribery between its admin and oil baron Edward L. Doheny.
Beneath a giant movie screen, a curated NYPhil played British composer/musician Jonny Greenwood’s original score. As the lead guitarist of Radiohead, Greenwood composed in his most familiar musical language — lighter strings, percussion, and a small handful of brass/woodwinds — in chilling glissandos to frame mid-film percussive menace, and a haunting fugue featuring the ondes martenot (sort of like a keyboard crossed with a Theremin).
A couple classical works were borrowed, such as the “Allegro giocoso” from Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Arvo Part’s Fratres, which the NYPhil soloists played adroitly-enough.
After Artistic Advisor Alec Baldwin made a short intro, young conductor Hugh Brunt took a bow in his NYPhil debut. The orchestra was well-served by Brunt’s cross-genre credits citing past collaborations with PTA and Greenwood/Radiohead.
The only caveat: tho the series is a great way to see a masterpiece on the big screen, the large venue strips away a sense of intimacy that you get in smaller movie theaters. But on the B-side, you really understand the nuance and skill behind score-making when matched-up to a live performance.
Even cooler, it also made me realize that no matter how masterly a film has been crafted, the medium, just like humans, ages. Music, however? Music is eternal.