‘Puttnam plays Puttnam’ at the National Concert Hall, 13 September 2014
With 10 Oscars, 25 BAFTAs, the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, a CBE, a knighthood, and countless honorary degrees and awards, Lord David Puttnam is one of the most successful and inspirational film-producers of our time. His remarkable legacy of films includes The Mission, The Killing Fields, Local Hero, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone and Memphis Belle.
The thread that binds these works together is weaved from an innate understanding of the human spirit and the diverse colours that construct the many relationships of a lifetime. Fundamental to this storytelling process is the role of music. As part of their signature series, a reduced compliment of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, together with the Mornington Singers, pay musical tribute to the these films under the directorship of Benjamin Wallfisch. Tonight’s repertoire has been arranged by the movie magnate’s son, Sacha Puttnam, who also dons the role of pianist for the night’s proceedings. Stills from each film decorate the screen above the orchestra. The task of presenting befalls Miriam O’Callaghan, a vision of sartorial elegance in a floor-length red lace gown.
The president’s salute fills the auditorium as an t-Uachtaráin Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina make their way to the gallery. Following resounding applause, Sacha takes to the stage with a tender performance of ‘Love Theme’ from Midnight Express. The Mornington singers provide unobtrusive accompaniment to the score. The balance between orchestra and pianist here is beautifully measured. O’Callaghan then introduces us to Puttmann, the elder, whom she describes as “incredibly humble, incredibly kind”, and an “incredibly lovely man”. Throughout the night, we are charmed and moved by various anecdotes from his career and life, as he provides insight into the many soundtracks that narrate his films. Sacha’s arrangements are pretty and heartfelt, but at times uninspiring. Aside from some minor errors, his performance of Liszt’s Consolation No. 3 and Liebestraum No. 3 is mostly competent, but wholly expressive.
One of the highlights of the night is the performance of ‘Danny Boy’. Puttnam informs his enraptured audience of a tale about his father and this famous air. As a child, Puttnam’s father was seconded into the war and the pair did not fully meet until the film-producer was five years old. Puttnam fondly remembers the precious Sundays that the pair shared in which his father would often sing ‘Danny Boy’. Following Sacha’s emotional playing of the piece, O’Callaghan speaks on behalf of Puttnam saying how proud his father would be of Sacha tonight. The audience is visibly moved by the sentiment. Honorable mention goes to the young violinist Jane Hackett whose playing of Fauré’s Romance sans paroles is truly beautiful.
As the concert comes to its close, members of the hall are brought to their feet in united appreciation for David and Sacha Puttnam. We are rewarded with a rousing, fun-filled, performance of ‘We could have been anything that we wanted to be’ from Bugsy Malone. This really was an unforgettable night.
Giorgio Moroder: ‘Love Theme’ (Midnight Express)
Vangelis: ‘Chariots of Fire’, ‘Abraham’s Theme’, and ‘Eric’s Theme’ (Chariots of Fire
Howard Blake: ‘Laura’s Theme’ and ‘Madame de Lyon’ (The Duellists)
Saint-Saëns: ‘The Swan’ (My Life so Far)
Traditional Air: ‘My Love is Like a Red Red Rose’ (My Life so Far)
Traditional Air: ‘Danny Boy’ (Memphis Belle)
Mark Knopfler: ‘Irish Love’ (Cal)
Mark Knopfler: ‘Going Home’ (Local Hero)
Vangelis: ‘Eric’s Theme Variation’ (Chariots of Fire)
Ennio Morricone: ‘Gabriel’s Theme’ (The Mission)
Liszt: Consolation No. 3 (Lisztomania)
Fauré: Romance sans paroles
Liszt: Liebestraum No. 3 (Lisztomania)
Puccini: ‘Nessun dorma’ (The Killing Fields)