Film Music Review
The Sammy awards










Music produced, composed and conducted by John Williams

The Boston Pops orchestra (CDs 1 and 2)/
Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (CD 3)
John Williams, conductor

Choruses for Disc 1:
American Boychoir, James H. Litton, Director,
Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, Director

Choruses for Disc 3:
Los Angeles Children's Chorus,
California State University, Fullerton,University Singers

Disc 4:
Steven Spielberg & John Williams: The Adventure Continues
A documentary film by Laurent Bouzereau

Soloists for first 2 Discs:
CD 1: Toots Thielemans, harmonica
CD 2: Tamira Smirnova, violin

3 CDs and 1 DVD Box Set
Sony Classical 88985 37458 2

Rating: ****


What needs to be written about this box set of John Williams favorites? It should sell itself without any endorsements so I'll just add a few comments about this tasty box of film music treats.

As most every John Williams collector probably knows, the first two CDs were previously released by Sony in 1991 and 1995, performed by the great Boston Pops Orchestra, conducted by John Williams.
They are titled:

CD 1: The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration (13 tracks)
CD 2: The Classic Spielberg Scores (15 tracks)

So it is CD 3 which deserves more attention since it includes later music from the Williams-Spielberg Collaboration and is the only new release. Here are the tracks for that CD:

2. Dry Your Eyes, Afrika from AMISTAD
3. The BFG from THE BFG - Heather Clark, flute soloist
4. With Malice Toward None from LINCOLN - Thomas Hooten,trumpet
6. A New Beginning from MINORITY REPORT
7-9. Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN - Soloists: Dan Higgins, alto saxophone;
Martin Grubinger, vibraphone; Michael Valerio, bass
10. Marion's Theme from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
11. Hymn To The Fallen from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
California State University, Fullerton, University Singers
12. Dartmoor, 1912 from WAR HORSE
13. Viktor's Tale from THE TERMINAL - Don Foster, clarinet
14. Prayer For Peace from MUNICH
15. Immigration and Building from The Unfinished Journey
16. With Malice Towards None from LINCOLN -
Stephen Erdody, cello

As a composer myself, I am continually amazed at how John Williams can compose such magnificent themes for just about every film he scores.
Since he has also composed jazz and classical works it is no surprise that he has composed a memorable work titled: "Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra." This 15 minute work gives each soloist a chance to shine and is the most impressive work of the entire CD.

There are, of course, many other goodies as well. Among my favorites are:
"A New Beginning" (track 6), "Marion's Theme" (track 10), "Hymn to the Fallen" which still chokes me up with emotion and a tear or two from its beauty and poignancy. Also, "Dartmoor, 1912" (track 12) from WAR HORSE, a film score I selected as Best of the Year for a Sammy Film Music Award in 2012.

The documentary only lasts about 20 minutes and features a bit too much of the mutual admiration buddy talk. I would prefer to see more of John Williams with orchestra and chorus since he is a marvelous conductor.

The booklet notes by Jon Burlingame for CD 3 are especially worth reading for summarizing so well the importance of this longtime collaboration.

I hope that Sony Classical will release CD 3 as a separate release since it deserves to be heard by all Williams fans who might not choose to pay the expense of the 4 disc box set.

Yet this 4 disc set is well worth the cost if you wish to have it all together in one incredibly enjoyable collection and with superb sound quality as well. The entire package is well produced, though a plastic jewel case would have been better than the cardboard sleeves for the discs which are awkward to remove for playing.

I highly recommend this box of John Williams film music treasures!

-- Roger Hall


See also:

Film Music Master: A Tribute to John Williams

Sammy Film Music Awards


Film Music Review (Home Page)



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