Friday, August 23, 2013

Film concert Disney Fantasia (Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / Erkki Lasonpalo)

Triple screen Coolux digital video projection at Helsinki Music Centre, 23 August 2013 (Helsinki Festival / Disney Concert Library).

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor: Erkki Lasonpalo.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5: Allegro con brio - Fantasia 2000 - 3 min
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 6: excerpt - Fantasia (1940) - 11 min
P. I. Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Chinese Dance, Dance of the Flutes, Arabian Dance, Russian Dance, Waltz of the Flowers) - Fantasia (1940) - 15 min
Claude Debussy: Clair de lune - (produced in 1940, the animation initially released as Blue Bayou, later released with the originally intended Debussy score in Fantasia Anthology: Fantasia Legacy, 2000) - 6 min
Jean Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela (sketched in 1940, reconstructed in Fantasia Anthology: Fantasia Legacy, 2000) - 9 min


Amilcare Ponchielli: Dance of the Hours - Fantasia (1940) - 12 min
Paul Dukas: The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Fantasia (1940) - 9 min
Edward Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance - Fantasia 2000 - 8 min
Ottorino Respighi: Pines of Rome - Fantasia 2000 - 10 min
Camille Saint-Saëns: The Carnival of the Animals: Finale - Fantasia 2000 - 2 min

The encore (the jazz variation of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Bumble Boogie, from Melody Time, 1948) was not played, although there were four rounds of applauses.

The best and the worst of Disney... The highlights of the film concert were The Nutcracker Suite, Clair de lune, The Swan of Tuonela, Dance of the Hours, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Top laugh number with the chidren was Dance of the Hours (the ballet of the ostriches, the hippopotami, the elephants, the crocodiles).

It makes a difference to hear these compositions live. There was a sense of fun, joy, and yes, fantasy, in The Nutcracker Suite, as well as in Dance of the Hours and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The sound was magnificent in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Pomp and Circumstance, and Pines of Rome. In Pines of Rome, a wind instrument section appeared in the very back of the concert hall and filled the space with a gorgeous sound. The hall was vibrating with the power and beauty of music.

The visual quality of the presentation was terrible, far from the authentic, gorgeous quality of the Fantasia imagery. The warm colours were consistently off, garish or tasteless. The blacks, the blues, the grays, and the whites were not bad. The visual experience was like that on a flat-screen television in a department store: drab or garish.

See separate entry on Fantasia: The Swan of Tuonela - the world premiere screening of the reconstruction that was initially released in the Fantasia Anthology dvd box set (in 2000).

Jukka Isopuro reviewed the Film Concert Disney Fantasia in Helsingin Sanomat (on 25 August, 2013). "A silent concentration testified to the reverence of the reception at the Fantasia film concert. Half were grown-ups, half children. Finally a laughter was ringing out loud when the funniest episodes were displayed on the screen."

"The music played by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra was a luxury production of giant proportions. The film, Disney's Fantasia with added episodes, projected on three screens, occupied a more modest, yet appropriate space. The conductor Erkki Lasonpalo maintained the synch between the music and the images with the help of the video monitor. Even the recurrent knocking motif of the conclusion of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was in perfect synch, complete with the ritardandi."

"The pieces were mostly compilations, arrangements, and digests of the original compositions. Caramel colours, chubby fairy-tale figures, and transparent fairies soared on the screen. As the images dictated the tempi, the spirit of the 1940 conductor Leopold Stokowski was revived. In contemporary performances one never gets to hear such a juicy ring of a bass clarinet."

"The illustration to Sibelius's The Swan of Tuonela was different from the others. The leisurely zooms into the pastel sketches displayed a symbolistic Nordic landscape and a swan in the shape of a boat. The fit of Elgar's composite march Pomp and Circumstance to a story of Donald Duck in Noah's Ark was strained."

"After a stunning condensation of Respighi's Pines of Rome illustrated with humpback whales, the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns was a welcome relief."

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