All Ear Worms

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Ever since Hollywood invented talkies, there’s been a demand for music to enhance cinema. As a result, in the last century or so, the composer’s biggest venue has been the movie theater. Through film and TV, composers like Lalo Schifrin (Mission: Impossible), Carter Burwell (almost every Coen Brothers film) and Gershwin (countless films) have all penetrated our collective ear.

This week Terrance McKnight offers an Imani Winds performance of Schifrin's jazz-infused La nouvelle Orleans, a concert piece that conjures up a New Orleans funeral procession.

A student of Messiaen and former band-mate of Dizzy Gillespie, Schifrin has achieved household pop status with his Mission: Impossible theme song. Tongue and cheek references to the 8-note melody have come to represent all things stealthy.

Schifrin also has the claim to fame of creating music too scary for The Exorcist. He once told an interviewer that, when attached to the images of the trailer, his intended score was deemed too "heavy and frightening, so most [of the audience] went to the toilet to vomit." Warner Brothers executives ended up rejecting it completely.

Fear not. We'll show you Schifrin's sweet and tuneful side.

Also, we hear Carter Burwell’s Sweet Lorraine, Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me via Keith Jarret, and Golijov’s Oceana: Call.


Excursions for Piano, Op. 20
Samuel Barber
Leo Smit, piano
Music Masters

Evening Song

Zoltan Kodaly
Crofut Consort
Julianne Baird, soprano

Nocturne No. 5 in B-flat

John Field
Miceal O'Rourke, piano

Improvisation No. 1

Yungchen Lhamo
Yungchen Lhamo, vocalist
WNYC Archives

Ritual Prayer
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett, piano

Someone to Watch Over Me

Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin
Keith Jarrett, piano

Sonata for Violin and Cello

Maurice Ravel
Nigel Kennedy, violin
Lynn Harrell, cello

Danzas espanolas: 'Andaluza' (Playera)

Enrique Granados
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Samuel Sanders, piano

Oceana: Call

Osvaldo Golijov
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Atlanta Symphony Chorus
Robert Spano, conductor
Luciana Souza, vocalist
Elizabeth Remy Johnson, harp
Jamie Haddad, percussion
Jay Anderson, bass
Scott Tennant / John Dearman, guitars
Gwinnett Young Singers
Deutsche Grammophon

Flight of Whispers
Jason Kao Hwang
Music for Homemade Instruments
New World

Sweet Lorraine
Carter Burwell
Stephane Grappelli, violin
Yo-Yo Ma, cello

City Life

Steve Reich
Steve Reich Ensemble
Bradley Lubman, conductor

La nouvelle Orleans
Lalo Schifrin
Imani Winds