In October, the Orchestra of Opera North marked the centenary of the end of World War I with a screening of the 1927 silent film, Wings, with Carl Davis’s dramatic score. The winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture in 1929, Wings is a romantic action picture written and directed by combat pilots John Monk Saunders and William Wellman. In a small town in America, rivals Jack and David both vie for the affections of Sylvia Lewis. As romance starts to blossom, both men are called up to enlist and the pandemonium of war threatens to tear the lovers apart.
‘A magnificently dramatic score… full of variety and contrasts, by turns explosive and lyrical, with a witty use of borrowed melodies and styles: gymnastics and boxing in training are accompanied by an Irish jig, sly hints of “This is the Army, Mr. Jones” recur and Davis scores the most rousing version imaginable of La Marseillaise. The focus is on the brass, with an enlarged trumpet section, but, most distinctively, only one tenor trombone, joined by bass trombone and two tubas, producing glorious sonorities and full-on attack for the battle of the skies… a performance like this [live screening], somewhere between pit and concert hall, unleashes the essential theatricality of the orchestra to riveting effect.’
The Reviews Hub (Ron Simpson), 19 October 2018