Film Music Magazine

May Soundtrack Picks

By Daniel Schweiger · May 20, 2011



What is it?: While most of us weren't at the launch night for Los Angeles' renovated Griffith Park Observatory on October 4, 2009, this excellent recording of the Symphony in the Glen's accompanying concert under BLUE THUNDER composer Arthur Rubinstein's baton is the next best thing to being there- a mix of the classical and contemporary music that evokes humanity's wanderlust for the stars- topped off with Rubinstein's twenty minute original piece “Observations,” which is narrated by no less than the voice of space logic himself, Leonard Nimoy.

Why should you buy it?: Having released Rubinstein's WAR GAMES and WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY, Intrada should be congratulated for taking the gamble on one of their more distinctive, and unusual releases. Better yet, Rubinstein's own musical narrative is enthralling with, and without Nimoy's voice.

Where many movie composers have struck out with similar concept works, Rubinstein's beautifully constructed music effortlessly conveys the astronomical discoveries of Galileo, the ancients' fearful wonder of the night skies, and mankind's new (and hopefully not finished) ventures into the cosmos. Rubinstein's fluid swings between primitive rhythms, spectral choruses and lush melodies brings to mind similarly experimental work by Sergei Prokofiev, Alex North and Leonard Rosenman, composers who danced between the elegant and the untamed. Except here Rubinstein is using that approach to play celestial bodies that are as awe-inspiring to view as they are fearsome in their power. One can only imagine looking up as Rubinstein's majestic “Observations” conjure the view from the Observatory's telescope.

Extra Special: Rubinstein's programming of the concert's other astronomy-inspired works is also exceptional as it traces our evolution from Galileo's first discovery to NASA's ventures. Opening with fanfare from Claudio Monteverdi's 17th century opera “Orfeo” (about a star-struck Greek musician), Rubinstein continues on to Jean-Philipe Rameau's joyous Baroque suite for the constellation twins “Castor Et Pollux,” the romantic wanderlust of Henri Duaprc's19th century play “To the Stars,” and the energized jazz rhythms of Darius Milhaud's 20th century dance piece “The Creation of the World,” its wild transitions echoing Rubinstein's own “Observations.” It's a 79-minute album that's worth picking up at Intrada. Or better yet, get it in the gift shop of the re-energized Griffith Park Observatory after your visit.



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