MEHTA'S PHILHARMONIC PROGRAM BEgan with the notes (but not much else) of Beethoven's Second Leonore Overture, went on to embrace the rich radiance of Anna Larsson's singing of some expendable Brahms (the Alto Rhapsody) and wound up with the heaven-storming whoopee of Sergei Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky cantata, again with Larsson's lovely delivery of the work's one solo movement. Nevsky, I realize more all the time, is a one-of-a-kind piece. Many movie scores over the years have been reshaped into concert pieces, among them William Walton's music for Sir Laurence Olivier's Henry V, clearly influenced by Prokofiev. But the genius of Sergei Eisenstein and Prokofiev produced in this one work a confluence like nothing else in film and very little else in music. Even if you don't know the film, the remarkable pictorialism embedded in the music becomes a multidimensional experience. Buy the video (laser disc, preferably) with the score newly reconstructed, and you'll derive even more from this remarkable interweaving, which transcends the poster propaganda of the film itself and creates an artistic entity unique unto itself.
I don't get to the movies nearly enough, but two recent films out of Hollywood caught my attention on musical grounds, a rare experience. One is American Beauty, with Thomas Newman's score uncommonly participatory in the twisted emotional fabric of the film. The other is The Insider, whose score moves in and out of cognizance in a remarkable way, involving an array of pop tunes from here and there, but also music that I've recently raved about, with the saxophonist Jan Garbarek in some of his brain-rattling improv and participating with singers in music by, among others, Arvo Pärt. Somebody out there has been working with cleaned-out ears, and it shows.