The Bottom Line
- Three disks featuring over twenty different works
- Superb performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, LSO & more
- Every performance conducted by John Williams
- I wish they would release a complete collection of Williams' works!
- Released: June 2010
- 3 CDs, 39 Tracks
- Total Play Time: 3+ Hours
Guide Review - The Music of America: John Williams
The Music of America: John Williams begins its exploration of Williams' music with "Air and Simple Gifts" featuring renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma and the equally renowned violinist, Itzhak Pearlman. For those of you who watched President Obama's inauguration, you'll recognize this piece (it was created for the specifically for the event) as it was performed on the steps of the U.S. Capital building. In fact, due the the extremely cold temperatures, the musicians could not keep their instruments in tune. As a result, they had to "lip-sync" their entire performance - this was the recording that was used. Following is American Journey - a collection of six individual compositions created for and inspired by the Olympic games. Each piece tells the story of important events or periods of time within U.S. history: Immigration and Building, The Country at War, Popular Entertainment, Arts and Sports, Civil Rights and the Women's Movement, and Flight and Technology. It's an exciting, adventurous portrayal of the U.S. through the "eyes" of one of the country's most celebrated and prolific composers. Also on this disk is Williams' sublime "Suite from Memoirs of a Geisha for Cello and Orchestra". Recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Yo-Yo Ma at Chicago's Symphony Center in 2008, the suite is a summary of Williams' 2006 Grammy nominated original film score.
The Music of America: John Williams - Disk 2
Disk 2 features music, that for the most part, is not as well-known. Opening this disk is the triumphant "Summon the Heroes." Composed for the Centennial Celebration of the Modern Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, "Summon the Heroes" is a wonderfully American piece that relies heavily on the brass and wind sections. Also on the disk is a piece written for bassoonist, Judith LeClair, as part of the New York Phil's 150th anniversary in 1995, titled The Five Sacred Trees. With five movements, each representing a tree from Celtic mythology, this uniquely orchestrated composition is delicately complex and understated. You'll also hear Sound the Bells!, Elegy for Cello and Orchestra, the famous theme from NBC's Nightly News "The Mission Theme", March from 1941, and The Olympic Spirit.
The Music of America: John Williams - Disk 3
Alas, the journey through the music of John Williams ends with a trip through a handful of Williams' most famous original film scores. Beginning with what may well be one of the most recognizable themes since Beethoven's 5th symphony, is the Main Title from the movie Star Wars. Quickly following is the nail-bitting Theme from Jaws. Also on this disk are the Theme from Sugarland Express, Flying Theme from E.T., Suite from Born on the 4th of July, Theme from Schindler's List, Theme from Jurassic Park, Cadillac of the Skies from Empire of the Sun, Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Excepts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Throne Room and Finale from Star Wars.