Review: "Cleveland Orchestra provides wonderful time with 'It's a Wonderful Life' film concert"

Brett Mitchell led two performances of Dmitri Tiomkin's score for It's a Wonderful Life with The Cleveland Orchestra on Dec. 8 and 9 at Severance Hall.

Brett Mitchell led two performances of Dmitri Tiomkin's score for It's a Wonderful Life with The Cleveland Orchestra on Dec. 8 and 9 at Severance Hall.

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) has published a review of The Cleveland Orchestra's performances of It's a Wonderful Life:

Associate conductor Brett Mitchell led a massive orchestra, augmented by what seemed like close to a hundred angelic voices of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, in Dmitri Tiomkin's original score for the movie....

It hardly needs to be said that the Cleveland Orchestra sounded fantastic in this context. The youthful purity of the voices of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, however, added an exquisite note to the presentation -- much more heavenly than any of the Hollywood choruses available in the 1940s.

One felicitous touch was CineConcerts' decision to add subtitles to the movie, which meant that Mitchell and his forces were free to unleash waves of full fortissimo sound when called for, so that while dialogue was occasionally obscured, the sense of the story was never lost....

[Tiomkin] also called for a number of popular dance-band sequences, and it was a delight to hear the Cleveland Orchestra fit itself quite naturally into that mode. Their rendering of the Charleston in the graduation party sequence was as authentic as one could want.

The last segment of the film, the harrowing, Dickens-inspired sequence when angel Clarence vividly demonstrates how crucial George Bailey's life was to Bedford Falls and the well-being of its inhabitants, features the score's most dramatic passages, and Mitchell unleashed the orchestra's full force to devastating effect.

The happy ending was a glorious confection of musical holiday cheer, with the orchestra at its most sparkly and the ethereal voices of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus going a long way to elicit a surge of emotion in the audience, which burst into sustained applause before the final credits had begun to roll.

To read the complete review, please click here.