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John Williams Conducts His Classic Scores For The Films Of Steven Spielburg

For this compilation, issued in 1991, John Williams conducted his standard film concert repertoire with the Boston Pops Orchestra.  This was one of the first soundtrack CDs I bought, as an introduction to John Williams.  The performances are mostly pretty good, although I usually listen to the OSTs now.  This also has some rare finds, including Parade of the Slave Children from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (rumoured to be released as an expanded edition next year.)  In general, if you are new to film music, this is a great compilation, but most collectors will already have the OSTs for these.

Track by Track Analysis:
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Raiders' March (5:11)
The immortal Indiana Jones march opens the disc, and although the BSO doesn't quite have the power of the London Symphony Orchestra, the performance is very good.  In the middle is a statement of Marion's Theme, which I actually enjoy a little more than the OST, as it is just tad more sweeping.  However, for the march, the LSO can't be rivaled.
2. Always: Theme (5:31)
Next is the soft, humanistic theme from the much-maligned "Always."  After an introduction of the theme on piano, it is played by the strings, and eventually the full orchestra joins in.  I think it's pretty boring, and have only listened to the entire piece a few times.
3. E.T.: Adventures On Earth (9:47)
The performance of this is my major qualm of the entire album.  First of all, even though it's a competant concert arrangement, almost half of the cue is missing, the order is rearranged, and the performance is much too slow.  Still, if you haven't heard it before, it's a great cue with all of the principal themes.  In fact, before I got the full CD, I didn't see anything wrong with the performance.  Some highlights include the opening string flourishes and the final statement of the main theme.  Actually, I now realize that you could be completely content with just this cue.  Usually I only listen to this cue on the OST, as much of the rest is celestial kids' music.
4. Sugarland Express: Theme (3:36)
This is the extremely rare theme from Spielburg's and Williams' first collaboration.  Apparently, Spielburg was enthralled with Williams' music for The Reivers, and wanted that same sound for his movie.  The theme presented here is very good, extremely rooted in the West, complete with harmonica and jazzy orchestration.
5. Jaws: Theme (2:57)
I don't think this needs any introduction.  Who could forget that horrific two-note motif?   This concert arrangement is very good, but the ending is extremely corny.
6. Jaws: Out To Sea/The Shark Cage Fugue (4:23)
This is characteristic of much of the "Jaws" score, opening with a charming sea chanty.  The second section is some frantic, suspense building action music that climaxes in a huge brass epilogue.
7. Empire of the Sun: Exsultate Justi (4:57)
"Exsultate Justi" has to be the most classical-sounding piece on the album, excellently performed by the BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus.  This choral selection features an uplifting, hymn-like fanfare.
8. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Parade of the Slave Children (4:52)
This is a rare, rip roaring action fanfare.  The concert arrangement presented here also has Short Round's theme included.  It makes me long for the complete album, which is now only available as a Japanese import.  The theme is very tyrannical, and this suite has several great statements of it.
9. E.T.: Over the Moon (2:11)
Probably the most charming cue on here, this is also one of the tracks removed from the expanded OST.  The opening piano arrangement is very moving, and the theme is sweeping and wistful at the same time, without sounding corny.  Following the piano arrangement, the full orchestra plays the theme again.
10. 1941: March (4:12)
For Spielburg's biggest flop, Williams composed a comical patriotic march with several key motifs.  After they are each stated once, Williams combines them into one huge reprise at the end.
11. Empire of the Sun: Cadillac of the Skies (4:59)
More of Williams' typical sweeping sound.  The theme is stated once quietly, with the heavenly choir eventually joining the full orchestra.  It keeps building, eventually becoming quite moving.
12. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra (2:48)
This is probably the best cue from "The Last Crusade," completely devoid of the Raiders' March, although most of the other themes are stated.  During its three-minute running time, the action motif is stated several times, with each one becoming more frenzied.  One of the highlights is the orchestral crash finale that wasn't on the OST.
13. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Excerpts (9:47)
This is Williams' standard concert suite, containing the dissonant opening, and segueing to part of the finale.  The performance is fine, although we've all heard it before.

All in all, this is a decent compilation, especially if you are new to film music.  The liner notes are by Spielburg, with the performance, sound quality, and length being fine.  It's like going to a John Williams concert.

Spielburg/Williams: The Final Score
Music Rating 9/10
Packaging/Liner Notes 8/10
Orchestral Performance 7/10
Sound Quality 9/10
Length 9/10

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The Spielburg/Williams Collaboration is Copyright 1991 by Sony Classical.  Its appearance on this site is for informational use only.  Review Copyright 1999 by Andrew Drannon.  Opinions are not those of Tripod.