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Soundtrack Review

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John Williams: A Life in Music


Composer: John Williams
Performed by: The London Symphony Orchestra
Label: Decca Records / Classic FM
Release Date: 04 May 2018

Decca Records / Classic FM pay tribute to the cinema music of one of Hollywood's most celebrated composers. John Williams: A Life in Music is a collection of new recordings of music from the most iconic films of our time by the world’s most successful film composer performed by The London Symphony Orchestra...

This is a difficult album to review. John Williams was the reason I started collecting film scores. In the '80s I picked up his LPs for Raiders of the Lost Ark and then the original Star Wars score and I was hooked. His music is always memorable and perfectly crafted. His output in the '80s was the soundtrack to my teenage years and I'll always have a fond place in my heart for his music.

The problem with this release, for me, is that I know each and every one of these tracks inside out - and to be perfectly honest I've lost count of how many compilation album's I've got that include the theme to Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. John Williams: A Life in Music takes 9 of his most icon themes (and the theme from Hook) and presents them with new recordings by The London Symphony Orchestra.

As I said before, I pretty much know the originals inside out, so I know these are as faithful to the originals as possible. I'm assuming they've used William's original orchestrations. But it's a bit of a strange album to release. It's only really going to appeal to those that aren't overly familiar with Williams's work, but even they must have at least one recording of the Star Wars theme.

For me, the only novel aspect of these recordings is how, on occasion, the mix brings to the fore a segment of the orchestra that wasn't so easy to hear on the original soundtrack recordings. This meant that I could appreciate even more how multi-layered Williams's original compositions are.

Hook is a strange movie to include in this collection. If you were going for popular films, I'd have thought War Horse or A.I. would have been a better fit. Hook is a great soundtrack, but its inclusion here is a little odd.

Admittedly this isn't an album for me. I've got all of the original complete scores, so listening to this was nothing overly special. However, if you're not a collector of Williams's work then this is a great compilation album of arguably his finest moments.

The album contains 10 tracks (50 min, 22 sec).

Track listing:

01 - Main Title (From Star Wars)
02 - Theme (From Jurassic Park)
03 - Hedwig's Theme (From Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone)
04 - The Raiders March (From Raiders Of The Lost Ark)
05 - Flying Theme (From E.T.)
06 - Theme (From Schindler's List)
07 - The Flight To Neverland (From Hook)
08 - Hymn To The Fallen (From Saving Private Ryan)
09 - Shark Theme (From Jaws)
10 - Superman March (From Superman)


Darren Rea

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