RSNO / Brossé
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
AS the RSNO establishes itself as one of the go-to orchestras for film soundtrack recording, with its home next door to Glasgow’s big hall now kitted out as a state-of-the-art studio, it is only fitting that it celebrated the 70th birthday of a local lad who has built a spectacularly successful career writing movie scores.
Doubtless the business of meeting tight deadlines and budgets for Netflix often seems a long way from the glamour of showbusiness, so here was also a chance to bask in the glitter of celebrity as well as honouring Scotland’s Patrick Doyle. This was no surprise bash for the composer, however, whose part in the proceedings stretched far beyond the music.
The two presenters of the evening, Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi, both have personal connections with Doyle: he scored Grant’s 2005 directorial debut, Wah-Wah, while Capaldi’s memories of him dated from the later years of last century. Those reminiscences were coupled with Doyle’s in a script that had the composer’s own fingerprints all over it, although the funniest moments, with Grant’s ripe language and Capaldi’s self-deprecatory references to his own starry career, were of the actors’ own devising.
Those famous friends were counterbalanced – in an evening that managed to stay just on the right side of cheesiness – with the presence of his family, from the onstage singing roles of his daughters Abigail and Nuala, to the sometimes equally vocal contributions of members of the extended Doyle clan in the auditorium. The star vocalist was Mairi MacInnes, with Gairm Na h-Oidhche from the 2018 remake of Whisky Galore!, but the Doyle sisters’ contributions from Mike Newell’s Into the West and Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express were not far behind. The latter also featured a solo turn from RSNO cellist Betsy Taylor, while guest first violin Hannah Perowne had the spotlight in Corarsik, Doyle’s evocation of the Argyll landscape, written as a gift for Emma Thompson, scriptwriter and star of the 1995 film of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility.
With traditional musician Fraser Fifield adding his skills to the RSNO winds and Lorne MacDougall being a highly adaptable piper to cope with the modulations in Doyle’s concert music, his compositions were most rewarding when the orchestration was at its fullest. Doyle’s scores are evocative, but little of this music was dramatically exciting – even the most recent piece, written for the coronation of King Charles, is a very sedate march.
It seems highly probable that, after Celtic Connections marked Doyle’s 65thbirthday and the RSNO threw him a party this year, the composer might look favourably on further celebrations. This one having dealt with the box office hits in his career, it would be interesting to hear a programme of his music curated by more objective ears.
Picture of Patrick Doyle with the RSNO by Martin Shields