DUBLIN, IRELAND -National concert hall One night it is serious Beethoven with Lang Lang; the next it is a Broadway musical with Marvin Hamlisch. The RTE Concert Orchestra is nothing if not versatile.
This is something the US composer, conductor, pianist, vocalist, raconteur and Pulitzer Prize winner reflects on at the National Concert Hall, where Hamlisch is the focus of the orchestra’s latest installment in its Signature Series.
Whatever of his European background, Hamlisch’s music is staunchly American and his varied programme covers more than his own material. He generously pays tribute to Cole Porter, Frederick Lowe and Jerome Kern. But from his own pen comes “The Swimmer” –itself maybe only a foretaste of better things, including music from Sophie’s Choice and The Way We Were, mere snippets from his 40-plus Hollywood Scores.
‘Nobody does it better’ — the theme song from the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me — ranks among Hamlisch’s finest and it comes here as a rhapsodically embroidered piano solo. A medley from his Broadway hit A Chorus Line finds him on the conductor’s rostrum as well as at the keyboard as he fashions a contagiously relaxed atmosphere. An intriguing item in his programme –“Rent-A-Composer”- brings an audience suggestion of “Help, The Kids Are Back”, whereupon Hamlisch instantly launches into a witty impromptu improvisation of words and music.
His arranging skill is displayed during his evocative reworking of Scott Joplin’s classic ‘The Entertainer’ from the Paul Newman/Robert Redford caper The Sting. And there are unbridled ‘Happy Birthday’ flourishes a la Bach during the evening.
Tribute to Ireland – by Irish born Tenor: Michael Londra: