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The Concert
  • Composed by John Barry
  • Universal France / 2010 / 52:25

Shortly after his first symphonic concert, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1972, John Barry headed into the studio to record selections from the programme.  Long a popular LP with his fans, the recording has finally been released on CD, by Universal France.  For quite a while, Barry was (certainly in his own country, to an extent elsewhere) the rock star of film composers, always with a beautiful girl on his arm, with popularity and indeed record sales extending far beyond film music’s traditional reach.  As a result, there’s an unusually large number of compilations of his music – you might ask, therefore, whether you need another one, given that much of this music has been released (in different recordings) on countless other albums.  If you’re a Barry fan, then of course you do!

The wonderful 18-minute “James Bond suite” which opens the album features the themes from the first seven films; it’s virtually the same arrangement as heard on “Moviola 2” a couple of decades later, but far punchier and more energetic.  Then comes perhaps the most vibrant recording of Born Free I’ve heard.  One of the album’s biggest treats is the seven-minute suite from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a film which hadn’t even been released yet at the time.  It won’t escape many people’s attention that so far, the album has essentially “just” offered orchestral versions of songs; such is Barry’s style of composition, that’s no problem whatsoever – this is not like those “The Royal Philharmonic plays the music of George Michael” albums – his natural style lends itself perfectly to this setting – and the melodies are beautiful.  The biggest rarity is The Adventurer – a rollicking tv theme which works well in this symphonic setting.  The main part of the album concludes with two themes which still sound good despite missing their original USP – Mary, Queen of Scots without the harpsichord and then Midnight Cowboy without the harmonica.  There are also four bonus tracks, taken from other Polydor recordings of the 1970s – the themes from Day of the Locust, Walkabout, The Deep and Monte Walsh.  This is a really enjoyable compilation (with top liner notes, including a new interview with Barry).  ****

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