Celluloid Rewind

feat. Dvořák, Holst, Vivaldi, Brahms & Elgar

Welcome to this week's Grammofy! So, Celluloid Rewind. What exactly does that mean?

Well, it means we're celebrating film scores, but without actually playing you any film scores; after all you don't need us to tell you where to find ET and Jurassic Park on Spotify. Instead we're doing something a bit more left-field, and playing works whose influence whispers into some of the greatest film scores. Unsurprisingly this has resulted in mostly a Major Classics playlist, and also a longer introduction here so that we can tell you why we've chosen what we've chosen.

We start with a biggie, and also probably our favourite of the lot: Dvořák's Symphony No 9 “From the New World”, and the bit we want you to especially notice is the opening of the second movement with its slow, slightly mysterious chords, because if you then go and watch Titanic – the film about the ship that never made it to the New World – and specifically the section at which the ship is stricken but still above water, you should spot that James Horner's orchestral chords are an eerier, more menacing version of Dvořák's ones.

Very clever, we think, and the recording we've chosen is Marin Alsop conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Next comes Holst's The Planets, which of course is well known for inspiring John Williams with his Star Wars score, particularly “Mars”, the first movement. It's played here by the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis.

Then we have Andreas Scholl singing Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus aria, “Cum Dederit”, and this is our one cheat, because you can hear exactly this aria in the James Bond film, Spectre. We make no apology for just lifting it right out though, because it provided one of the film's most atmospheric moments.

From there we return to hitting our actual brief, with Brahms's Symphony No 1, heard in John Eliot Gardiner's period instrument recording with his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Why? Well, because we think it's not entirely unreasonable to suggest that when John Williams wrote the soundtrack to Jurassic Park he had in his head the big heroic theme that follows the horn call in Brahms's final movement.

Last but not least we've got Leonard Bernstein conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Elgar's Enigma Variations. This one is tied to Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to Dunkirk, and we think it rivals that John Williams Titanic example for sheer cleverness, because it's quite some way into the film before you realise that the tense rumbling in the background is actually music which is trying to fight its way through the theme to “Nimod”, that most noble and British-sounding of works; and although “Nimrod” gradually reveals more and more of itself, when the plane touches down right at the end of the film, it still hasn't pushed its way through to the end of the first phrase: wonderful symbolism, reminding us that at this moment the future still looked incredibly bleak for the Allies.
So there you go! We hope all of this makes you hear the music, and of course watch these films, with fresh new ears.

Curation: Charlotte Gardner

Speaker: Charlotte Gardner

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Celluloid Rewind

  • An introduction to Dvořák — Symphony No. 9 in e minor op. 95 »From The New World«

  • Symphony No. 9 in e minor op. 95 »From The New World« Preview Only

    Antonín Dvořák

    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop2007
  • An introduction to Holst — Die Planeten op. 32

  • Die Planeten op. 32 Preview Only

    Gustav Holst

    Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra2002
  • An introduction to Vivaldi — Nisi Dominus in g minor RV 608

  • Nisi Dominus in g minor RV 608 Preview Only

    Antonio Vivaldi

    Andreas Scholl, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Paul Dyer2000
  • An introduction to Brahms — Symphony No. 1 in c minor op. 68

  • Symphony No. 1 in c minor op. 68 Preview Only

    Johannes Brahms

    Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner2007
  • An introduction to Elgar — Enigma Variations op. 36

  • Enigma Variations op. 36 Preview Only

    Edward Elgar

    BBC Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein1982

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Movements