Festival Review: Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton



Danny Elfman. Photo by CAMI, Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Danny Elfman. Photo by CAMI, Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Presented by Adelaide Festival Of Arts 2015
Reviewed 14 March 2015

For over twenty years, Danny Elfman’s name has been linked to the television theme song of a certain well known animated dysfunctional family. For even longer, he has had a fulfilling career composing scores for most of film director Tim Burton’s visually stunning movies. This partnership is highly understandable when one realises how audibly stunning Elfman’s music is.

Elfman is a composer whose work one instantly recognises as having his distinctive touch stamped upon it, and yet no composition ever echoes any of his others. The impishness, quirkiness, haunting and romantic lilts are always present but totally original and unique.

The kaleidoscopic strains of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, the militaristic feel of Mars Attacks, the battle throbs of Planet Of The Apes (the Mark Walhberg version), the mesmerising tones of Big Fish, the flash, storm and ensuring calm of Frankenweenie, and, of course, the glorious pomp and ceremony that is Batman and Batman Returns (plus many more) – all are handled superbly by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Festival Chorus under the strong, skilful, and sometimes humorous hand of conductor John Mauceri.

All segments performed are interspersed with clips and Burton’s original sketches and drawings of the film being featured at the time. However, one could do without the strange ‘screensaver’ motif.

Violin soloist Sandy Cameron, clad all in black leather and sporting an early Johnny Depp ‘do, is positively electric in her performance of the violin solo from Edward Scissorhands: so much so that one expected the instrument to burst into flames at any second.

Two well deserved standing ovations were given to young Charlie Wells, the 9 year old boy soprano, whose splendidly beautiful voice soared throughout the Entertainment Centre during his solo work in Sleepy Hollow and Alice In Wonderland.

The highlight of the evening though, was the appearance of the man himself, Mr Danny Elfman. Portraying the role he made famous, Jack, the Pumpkin King, Elfman steals the show with the huge (and eagerly awaited for) The Nightmare Before Christmas segment. This elfin red-head delivered a big gutsy, throaty sound that immediately swept every one of the audience away on a fanciful nostalgic trip. Even conductor Mauceri got in on the act, voicing (very well) Santa Claus.

Unfortunately, this was a one night only event, but Elfman states that, like Batman, he will return. If he does, don’t stay in the Dark Shadows. See him!

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Rating out of 5:  5

Venue: Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Port Road, Hindmarsh
Season: 14 March 2015
Duration: 2 hours 20 mins including interval



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