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THE BEST OF JOHN WILLIAMS & THE BOSTON POPS (2006)

Music composed and conducted by John Williams

 

11 Tracks (Playing Time = 59:35)

1. Main Title from STAR WARS (5:42)
2. Princess Leia's Theme (4:08)
3. March from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (5:31)
4. March from SUPERMAN (4:28)
5. Love Theme from SUPERMAN (4:50)
6. Theme from JAWS (2:55)
7. March from 1941(4:28)
8. March from MIDWAY (4:14)
9. Adventures on Earth from E.T. (9:17)
10. Flying Theme from E.T. (3:47)
11. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND Suite (10:09)

Performed by The Boston Pops, conducted by John Williams. Compilation Produced by Joseph S. Szurly. Production Manager: Monique McGuffin.

HIP-O Records/Philips B0006033-02

Rating: ***

 

Is there any film music lover who doesn't already have most or all of these tracks, possibly on several different CD releases? I know I do. All of the tracks on this CD were previously released by Philips when they had a contract with the Boston Pops under John Williams direction. They are re-issued here in the "20th Century Masters Series - The Millennial Collection."

While the performances are all good, some of them are not as exciting as the original soundtracks. For example, the March from both RAIDERS OF THE MARCH and SUPERMAN sound a bit stodgy compared to the original soundtrack albums. While the Boston Pops may be considered one of the best of its kind in the world, they are still classical musicians not used to performing film music all the time, like say the Los Angeles or London orchestral musicians.

Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable CD for it provides a fine survey of the great themes of John Williams. Which score might be your favorite? Which one does John Williams prefer himself? Well, like most composers he usually won't just pick out one score as his favorite. But I heard him say in an interview years ago that if he had to pick one he would choose CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Maybe that's why this 1977 score has the longest track time on the CD (track 11, 10:09). It also includes a humming women's chorus and themes that send chills down my spine. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is a masterful film score and would be my choice as well, although it's very difficult to single out only one favorite film score among so many great ones by Williams.

Back in 1983 I presented a birthday tribute to John Williams on WGBH-FM in Boston. The music I used as the opener was the beautiful Love Theme from SUPERMAN, included on this CD. I still think it's one of the loveliest themes by Williams and is well performed by the Boston Pops. Another theme I played on that birthday tribute was the March from 1941. I mentioned that Williams is a master at writing march themes. That great skill is well illustrated with four march themes included on this CD.

Unfortunately, the sound on this CD doesn't sound as good as when I first heard them on the original LP or CD. Why weren't these tracks remastered to smooth out the shrillness?

This compilation CD is suggested only for those who are completists or those who want a brief survey of scores by the greatest film composer working today.

 

--Roger L. Hall , 16 June 2006

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