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article imageReview: Orchestrating a classic: 'Psycho' relived with live orchestra Special

By Tim Sandle     Jul 4, 2016 in Entertainment
London - A growing and popular way of reliving past movies is to re-screen classic pictures with a live orchestra playing the main themes and musical interludes. Hitchcock’s Psycho is the latest movie to receive the treatment.
Psycho with a live orchestra has been screened at London’s Roundhouse venue, in the Camden Town district. The Roundhouse provides a suitable venue, designed to provide acoustic excellence.
The music was provided by OSP (the Orchestra of St Paul’s), conducted by Ben Palmer, and it was played superbly, and perfectly on cue, interweaving with the movie’s dialogue track and sound effects. Naturally the standout was the infamous shower scene — the murder of Janet Leigh’s character by Antony Perkins’ twisted Norman Bates — where Bernard Herrmann’s original score is played by the string section at rapid, grating and nerve-wracking pace. The orchestra played a range of screeching violins, violas, and cellos to great dramatic effect.
Ticket for the orchestrated version of  Psycho.
Ticket for the orchestrated version of 'Psycho.'
Movie scores either work well, fail badly or blend into insignificance. Too often these days there is a tendency to go for a popular hit. With a movie like Psycho the score is integral to the film — creating much of the tension and drama, often heralding in a darker and more intense effect as the plot demanded.
The sound crew  controlling the recording of  Psycho   at the Roundhouse.
The sound crew, controlling the recording of 'Psycho', at the Roundhouse.
Re-watching Psycho, which this reviewer had only experienced on a television, projected onto a big screen fleshed out some of the fine elements in the portrayal of the characters by the actors and Hitchcock’s deft hand. Re-watching the shower scene it seems clear now that Leigh’s character was going back to confess and return the stolen money, and that the shower functions as some kind of "cleansing" of her guilty conscious. With the Norman Bates character, there seems a book’s worth of Freudian issues to untangle.
Psycho was a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1960. The strapline, for anyone unfamiliar with the movie, is: “A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.”
The movie begins and the band begin to play...
The movie begins and the band begin to play...
There is also something captivating about watching a well-made movie in black and white, where shadows and the use of light and dark can deployed to dramatic effect. Returning to the shower scene, this featured 77 different camera angles; and the 3 minute long scene included 50 cuts, to whip up the dramatic tension. Possibly this was the first depiction of a murder of this type in a mainstream movie, and it probably helped to drive the ‘slasher genera’ and its countless (inferior) movies.
Theater bill for the performance of  Psycho  at the Roundhouse.
Theater bill for the performance of 'Psycho' at the Roundhouse.
The use of a live orchestra to enable the re-screening of an old movie is becoming increasingly popular, according to Variety. The entertainment experience has moved from being an occasional novelty to being a regular part of the concert-going experience. Old classic movies seem to work best because audio tracks are broken out individually. Depending on the movie choice, it makes for a thrilling experience.
A view of the ceiling inside the Roundhouse; this creates a special acoustic sound.
A view of the ceiling inside the Roundhouse; this creates a special acoustic sound.
In the build-up to the performance, one of the orchestra, the violinist Rachel Spencer (@rspencerviolin) tweeted: "Wahooo so excited for today's adventures w @Orch_of_StPauls at @RoundhouseLDN 4.30 & 8.30pm."
People leaving the Roundhouse after the screening of the movie  Psycho.
People leaving the Roundhouse after the screening of the movie 'Psycho.'
More about Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock, alfred hitchcock psycho, Hitchcock, Movies
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