The Artist live at the Royal Albert Hall

The London Symphony Orchestra evokes the glamour of Hollywood at the Royal Albert Hall


In 2011, among the blockbusters and fluorescent children's cartoons, there was a film that deliberately turned its back on CGI, on 3D, on high-octane car chases and fantasy epics: Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist was the hit film that took everyone by surprise.

Not only was it shot in black and white but it was a silent movie – no talking, just a musical soundtrack.

The film, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, tells the story of a silent film actor, George Valentin, trying to adjust to the brave new world of 'talkies', and the young starlet Peppy Miller, who becomes the darling of Hollywood.

Near the opening, we see an audience watching one of Valentin's films, and there's a full symphony orchestra playing the music.

Of course, The Artist was shown in cinemas with a pre-recorded soundtrack. But last week, the London Symphony Orchestra gave audiences the chance to get even closer to the 1930s movie-going experience when they performed the soundtrack to The Artist live with a screening of the film at the Royal Albert Hall.

The jazz-infused score by Ludovic Bource is saturated with movie knowledge, including nods to classic soundtracks but also a deep affection for the tradition of the improvising silent film pianist.

Ernst van Tiel conducted the LSO, who were on sparkling form – particularly the brass and percussions sections. And Bource himself joined the orchestra as pianist, performing his score with panache and contagious enthusiasm.

Bource, Tiel and the orchestra sparkled with the glamour of the '20s, and the audience basked in the glow of the enormous silver screen.

This was a real treat for film-lovers, but you didn't need to know your Charlie Chaplin from your Buster Keaton to enjoy it.

For more film music, listen to 'Sound of Cinema' every week on Radio 3, Saturdays at 4pm

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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