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Williams – Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection (John Williams)

April 1, 2017

JOHN WILLIAMS – STEVEN SPIELBERG:
THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION

John Williams, 2017, Sony Classical
3CD, 44 tracks, 3:28:05

John Williams. Steven Spielberg. Neither gent needs an introduction.

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

[Introduction removed due to being not needed.]

Sony Classical have released this mammoth compilation of music by John Williams for the films of Steven Spielberg. It continues three CDs and a bonus DVD, which features the documentary Steven Spielberg & John Williams: The Adventure Continues by film-maker and -historian Laurent Bouzereau. For this review the DVD was unavailable, so I can only comment on the three audio discs. Two of those discs are reissues, really: The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration (1991) and Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores (1995). The third discs was recorded in 2016 with Williams conducting the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles.

I was very happy with the fact that when I was music director of Boston Pops, we were able to record a lot of the music that I’d written for Steven’s films,” Williams said about the first two discs in the collection. “So I said to him, ‘Steven, wouldn’t it be great if we could complete the Sony collection and put in all the things that we didn’t have when the last disc was recorded, this time with our great orchestra here in Los Angeles?’ To which Steven responded, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s do it!’

What does it sound like? And is it any good?

1991’s The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration is a collection dear to my heart. It was magnificent then; and it’s magnificent still. All the classic titles, up until then, are included and the performance by the Boston Pops Orchestra is fantastic. For me, Always, Jaws and Empire of the Sun shine brightest; with Jaws‘ “Out To Sea” showcasing some of Williams’ best (or at least: my favourite) counter-punctual writing. It’s easy to forget that there is so much more to Jaws than just that 2-note motif; just like there’s so much more to Close Encounters than just that 5-note motif.

There is some overlap between disc one and two, though only through the films represented. ET, Jaws, Empire of the Sun and Close Encounters feature once more, though different cues were selected for this compilation. Hook features heavily on this second disc, as does Jurassic Park (one of my favourites from Williams) and, to a surprisingly lesser extent, Schindler’s List.

The third disc is the most ‘diverse’, in that it features the most movies. Catch Me If You Can is represent by three cues, Lincoln by two, and one each for BFG, Amistad, Tin Tin, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, etcetera. The performance is, of course, phenomenal. There really is little to say about it other than that it’s, indeed, phenomenal. I think Amistad is one of the few that sounds different from the original, due to the unique vocals on the original. But different means nothing other than that. There is no compromise on quality on any of these discs.

So, with this arguably being the most boring review I’ve ever written I can only say that this compilation comes highly recommended – to those that already know all of Williams’ scores and even more so to those that have some discovering to do. The best cues from some of the best scores by one of the best film composers ever…. Seriously, it’s a no-brainer.

Rating [5/5]

Tracklist:

Disc 1: The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration (1991)
The Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by John Williams

01. Raiders of the Lost Ark from Raiders of the Lost Ark (5:11)
02. Theme from Always (5:31)
03. Adventures on Earth from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (9:47)
04. Theme from The Sugarland Express (3:36)
05. Title Theme from Jaws (2:57)
06. Out to Sea/The Shark Cage Fugue from Jaws (4:23)
07. Exsultate Justi from Empire of the Sun (4:57)
08. Parade of the Slave Children from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (4:52)
09. Over the Moon from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (2:11)
10. March from 1941 (4:12)
11. Cadillac of the Skies from Empire of the Sun (4:59)
12. Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (2:48)
13. Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (9:47)

Total Time: 65:23

Disc 2: Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores (1995)
The Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by John Williams

01. Flying from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (3:38)
02. Theme from Jurassic Park (5:30)
03. Remembrances from Schindler’s List (6:24)
04. Flight To Neverland from Hook (4:42)
05. The Battle of Hollywood from 1941 (4:59)
06. Smee’s Plan from Hook (3:33)
07.The Barrel Chase from Jaws (5:34)
08. My Friend, The Brachiosaurus from Jurassic Park (4:39)
09. Jim’s New Life from Empire of the Sun (3:43)
10. The Dialogue from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (3:28)
11. The Lost Boys’s Ballet from Hook (3:59)
12. Theme from Schindler’s List (3:55)
13. The Basket Chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark (4:17)
14. The Face of Pan from Hook (4:23)
15. The Banquet from Hook (6:08)

Total Time: 69:28

Disc 3: The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration Part III (2017)
The Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles conducted by John Williams

01. The Adventures of Mutt from Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (3:34)
02. Dry Your Tears, Afrika from Amistad (3:39)
03. The BFG from The BFG (7:28)
04. With Malice Toward None from Lincoln (4:42)
05. The Duel from The Adventures of Tintin (3:10)
06. A New Beginning from Minority Report (3:36)
07. Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from Catch Me If You Can Movement 1: Closing In (3:00)
08. Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from Catch Me If You Can Movement 2: Reflections (7:38)
09. Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from Catch Me If You Can Movement 3: Joy Ride (5:31)
10. Marion’s Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark (3:58)
11. Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan (4:19)
12. Dartmoor, 1912 from War Horse (6:54)
13. Viktor’s Tale from The Terminal (4:32)
14. Prayer for Peace from Munich (3;32)
15. Immigration and Building from The Unfinished Journey (5:21)
16. With Malice Toward None from Lincoln (Alternate Version) (3:20)

Disc 4: Steven Spielberg & John Williams: The Adventure Continues (DVD)

01. Documentary by Laurent Bouzereau including new interviews with Steven Spielberg and John Williams – October 2016 (22 minutes)

For more information, I refer you to a page over at JWFan.com.


Review (C) 2017 Synchrotones

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