Concert Review: Halloween Silent Film Night 2016

Kotzschmar Organ enlivens ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

The silent horror film is presented with a wonderfully effective score.

…This year’s installment was the 1920 version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” directed by John S. Robertson and starring John Barrymore, to which the young, Boston-based organist (and organ builder) Jonathan Ortloff provided a wonderfully effective score.

Because the film is relatively short, at just under 80 minutes, Ortloff played the first movement of Félix-Alexandre Guilmant‘s Sonata No. 1 (Op. 42) as an overture. Guilmant’s grand, symphonic piece proved weightier and more harmonically complex than Ortloff’s score for the film, but that hardly mattered. The sonata’s dissonant opening chords created a sense of tension and tragedy – qualities that, in a Halloween context, inevitably read as “scary,” but which also perfectly suit the spirit of the film, an exploration of human duality (good and evil), based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella…Allan Kozinn, Portland Press Herald