Tracksounds Rating =
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, The
Skywalker Symphony Orchestra, American Boychoir, Tanglewood Festival
Chorus, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Tim
Morrison, Christopher Parkening
Released by Sony Classical - November 1999
Doubt, the Best
by Christopher Coleman
Just mentioning the name John Williams brings a myriad of
themes to mind: Superman,
Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List,
etc. Well, Sony Classical has
done a nice job of incorporating all of these themes and more into a
double CD set. Sony Classical has released one of the best
compilations in the last few years with John Williams Greatest Hits
1969 - 1999. This tribute
to maestro John Williams has just about every score fan's favorite John
Williams' themes, with only a few curious inclusions, great track flow,
and all in a decent package. This is a near-perfect compliation.
There are a couple of great features to this particular
compilation. First, all of
the selections are conducted by the composer, John Williams.
This is interesting in that some of the performances vary from the
original soundtrack recordings. For
instance, track 2 of Disc 2, Theme from Jurassic Park is
performed at somewhat of a hurried tempo when compared to the original.
Flight to Neverland from Hook (track 4, disc 2) features
an intriguing arrangement of some of the best themes Another
noteworthy example is the arrangement for the Flying Theme from E.T.
The Extra-Terrestrial (track 2, Disc 1).
While it differs from the original and doesn’t contain quite the
same emotional punch, it is still a delight to listen to. Many times
such deviations provide so many distractions that it is difficult to enjoy
Yet another wonderful characteristic of this particular
compilation is the track order. Here,
Sony really does a wonderful job in leading the listener from one track to
the next. This is especially
evident on disc 2. Beginning
with the somber Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan
and aptly concluding with Williams’ summer of 1999 smash, the epic Duel
of the Fates from Star Wars: The
Phantom Menace, a perfect stroll down the John Williams lane of film
music masterpieces is constructed.
dilemma is always faced when putting together a John Williams
compilation. How much and which pieces from Star Wars do we
include? In spite of the huge amount of memorable Star Wars
themes to choose from Sony hit the mark with their selections of The
Main Title, Luke and Leia, The Imperial March, and Duel of the Fates.
These selections provide a good sampling of the depth and variety
found just within this one slice of the John Williams musical pie.
Cues form Star Wars or the Indiana Jones trilogy are
obvious candidates for inclusion in such a compilation, but a surprisingly
nice touch is John Williams’ Olympic work.
Two tracks display more of the composer’s ability to write themes
that ingrain themselves into our national as well as individual
consciousness. First, track 7
or disc 1, Olympic Theme and Fanfare features John Williams’
memorable theme for the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles.
The track begins with Leo Arnaud’s unforgettable “Bugler’s
Theme” and moves right into John Williams’ piece- a very nice touch.
The second sampling of the Olympic spirit comes on track 10 of disc
2, Summon the Heroes. This
powerful piece was written for the 1996 Games held in Atlanta, Georgia,
which marked the 100th Olympic Games held. This bold,
heroic theme can stand toe to toe with many of Williams' best film score
are a couple of other pieces that are pleasurable surprise
additions. Seven Years in Tibet and Empire of the Sun
may be two of John Williams most underrated scores, but they are given
some due credit with their inclusion here. Yet another fantastic
track is that of the theme from Far and Away which was originally found on
Cinema Serenade. Itzhak Perlman's performance is astounding!
As stated earlier, this is a near perfect compilation.
What keeps it from being perfect are a couple of curious
inclusions. One, The
Sugarland Express has always been a second-tier score when compared to
much of Williams other work of that era, yet it has made its way onto
another Williams compilation. It
would have been much more pleasurable to have had a selection from Earthquake
or The Towering Inferno or even Black Sunday.
Two, the selection from Rosewood, seems a bit strange, while
it does offer a glimpse at yet another facet of Williams’ musical
talent, it just doesn’t seem to fit with those pieces that surround
it. These selections do hamper the overall a experience, but
only microscopically. The brilliance of the rest of tracks make these
minor incidents negligible.
John Williams is responsible for giving us some of the most
unforgettable movie music in the last thirty years and this compilation
certainly does his work justice. For
those curious as to the lure of film music, this is the disc I’d plop
into their hands and say, “Just listen to this and you’ll
understand.” For those who
are in the midst of the film music mania, this disc provides a
professionally produced compilation that likely matches those many have
compiled themselves; however, Sony gives great packaging and liner notes
along with it. Certainly, this belongs in any film score collectors
library. It is, no doubt, the best released on John Williams yet.
the Liner Notes
fan of STAR WARS --
and of great film music -- is in his debt."
want to salute John Williams -- the quintessential film composer.
John has transformed and uplifted every movie that we've made
(from the album The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration)
has been a very special experience to carve out these three films together
(Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Nixon). In each one, John williams
brought to them the soul of a poet. Working with him was like flying
through the light." I shall never forget it.