Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera

No joke, that’s the full name of the orchestra I went to see this Monday; the only real professional orchestra that I know of in Saigon.

They played a really cool repertoire; consisting of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Violin Concerto in D Major; Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on the theme of Paganini; and Mussorgsky’s Dawn on the Moscow River. I’m not going to lie, I went there specifically to see the performance of the 1812 Overture and the Rhapsody on the theme of Paganini. The other two pieces were ones that I didn’t know quite so well.

I was very confused at their choice of the order of the pieces. They opened with Tchaikovsky’s 1812, and ended the first half with the Rachmaninov. The second half opened with Mussorgsky’s Dawn on the Moscow River. The concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. I really don’t understand this. In their Spring Summer programme leaflet, they stated the order to start with the Mussorgsky, followed by the Violin Concerto. The second half opened with Rachmaninov, and then the whole concert was to close with the 1812. To me, this would have made much more sense. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is a fantastic, dramatic, powerful piece: perfectly suited to the grand finale. Why they chose to open with this is simply beyond me. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Soundtrack

This is a response to a conversation I had with my friend over Facebook. His comment was:

the music was different. usually its all orchestral nd stuff. this time there was electronic john hopkins liek stuff and medeval sounding acoustic guitars. im talking background music specifically

just my opinion

Background music. Exactly. That’s all it was. It didn’t have any of the usual flare of a John Williams score. There wasn’t anything memorable in it, except perhaps the music Daniel and Emma danced to, which doesn’t really count.

They didn’t even use the main theme “Hedwig’s Theme” during the title sequence or credits, which they normally do.

Sure, the music did a great job of adding to the atmosphere, but that was all it was, atmospheric music. John Williams himself has this way of adding to the atmosphere fantastically whilst creating incredibly memorable tunes. Everyone knows the main Harry Potter tune, Darth Vader’s Theme, Star Wars Main Title, the Superman Theme, the Jaws theme, the list goes on.
No one’s going to remember the music from this film in my opinion.

(Follow the break to get down to the ratings and the next film)

That said, the ratings have been pretty good. According to Wikipedia:

  • Soundtrackgeek.com: 9/10
  • Shadowlocked.com: 4/5. They also added: “While this is a good soundtrack, there’s something about it that keeps it from being great. But it did make me more excited to see the new film.”
  • BlogHogwarts: 4.2/5. “Desplat has satisfied the expectations. Nevertheless, I must confess the music didn’t find my ‘soul’
  • Filmmusicsite.com: 7/10. “Desplat was really on to something when he wrote this soundtrack, and perhaps if he had given it a little more thought, he would have recognized how close he had come to writing something outstanding. Instead, the soundtrack’s musical gems come and go and never fully develop, leaving the listener disappointed by how close the soundtrack came to musical greatness.”
While the statistics seem to suggest it’s gotten pretty good ratings, if you look at the comments, you’ll see they agree with me. The soundtrack simply didn’t have anything to set it above any other film’s soundtrack.
My personal rating? I’d give it a 6/10. It would be even lower if I wasn’t taking into account the fact it is actually a film score. However, because it does do a very good job of adding atmosphere, I think it deserves to get pushed up a little. 

There was originally speculation that John Williams himself would come back for the final film. While this was the plan of both Williams and the films’ director, unfortunately they have conflicting schedules, so this won’t be the case. Because of this, the composer of this film will be returning to do the second part of The Deathly Hallows.
The composer of this film — Alexandre Deslpat, whose other works include:  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Fantastic Mr. Fox; and The Twilight Saga: New Moon — stated that:

“I would take every opportunity to use the fabulous theme composed by John Williams. I’d say it has not sufficiently been used in the latest movies, so if I have the opportunity and if the footage allows me, I’m going to arrange it” 

I agree thoroughly with the first part of that statement. I also thought that the previous films lacked the use of the original motifs written down by John Williams. However, I still enjoyed their soundtracks as individual soundtracks.
It’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that he didn’t go through with his original plan to use Williams’s themes more, because that would have been a huge boost to the overall quality of the score.

If you have a different opinion, I urge you to let me know why. Or, if you have anything to add, please go ahead in the comments. I’m interested to see what you have to say.

A review of three blogging websites, or, I’ve moved: again

So, I’ve moved my blog again. I decided to move my blog from WordPress, at https://zagorath.wordpress.com to Google’s Blogger, at http://zagorath.blogspot.com. The reasons for this are simple: WordPress is not. I found WordPress to be far too complicated for my uses. It was way too complicated for me.

When I was using Tumblr, I loved how easy it was to customise and edit the design. It was, however, lacking some very noticeable things. There was absolutely no in-built comment system, and no clear method for RSS. The problem with Tumblr is that it’s not really a conventional blog system. It’s not open enough. Tumblr is made to be used by people in Tumblr — it’s a closed system, more of a social networking site than a blogging site. And because of that, I couldn’t really use it for my blog.
So then I switched to WordPress. WordPress is an incredibly powerful blogging tool, and it is also amazingly customisable. But that’s the problem. It’s far too powerful, and too confusing for me. With WordPress, you pretty much have the option of using an in-built theme, or going all-out and creating your own. It’s very difficult to make many small changes. Most themes don’t even allow you to have a custom background. While I’m sure WordPress would be far superior for a serious blogger, or a web developer or something, for me, it’s just far too complicated.
So that brings me to my current situation. I’m currently using Blogger. I already have a Google account, so it was really easy to set up. I’ve now got the advantage of being able to more easily customise my blog. For me, one disadvantage is that there are no “categories”, only labels, which do the same thing as tags. Another problem is that it seems much more complicated to get Blogger to automatically Tweet with a new blog post. It has the added advantage, however, of allowing readers to comment using a variety of logins, including their WordPress accounts, should they chose to use them.
As always, I encourage any feedback on this that you may have. What have been your experiences with any of these three blogging tools, or any others you may have come across?