Click here to return to the main site.

Soundtrack Review

Cover Image

John Williams in Tokyo


Composer: John Williams
Performed by: Saito Kinen Orchestra
Conductors: John Williams and Stéphane Denève
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 03 May 2024

30 years after his last visit to Japan, John Williams returned for a special concert – making his debut with the renowned Saito Kinen Orchestra in renditions of his beloved film scores and reuniting with his longtime friend, the legendary conductor Seiji Ozawa (1935–2024). The concert was captured live at Suntory Hall in 2023...

Ah, the legendary John Williams. I've mentioned in previous reviews that it was Williams' film scores that got me into collecting movie soundtracks in the '70s. After watching Star Wars as a young boy I was captivated by the film's music. But I had no idea you could actually buy soundtracks. It wasn't until the early '80s that I saw the soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Ark for sale in a local branch of WHSmiths. I bought the LP and played it almost until it wore out... And that was it... I was an overnight fan of soundtracks - a passion that has lasted over 40 years.

While I'm never normally a fan of these sort of collections, it is always interesting to listen to them. Mainly because you can always guarantee that the sound mix will be slightly different to the original soundtrack recording. It's always interesting to hear a different part of the orchestra clearer than in the original recordings.

This is most obvious in the 'Marion's Theme' segment of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. It has a mix that gives the recording a different feel - concentrating on different instruments.

The reason I'm not overly fond of these collections is because, as you'd expect, they normally focus on pieces of music that are on just about every compilation. The 'Star Wars Main Theme' and 'Raiders March' are so over used that I just wished different pieces had been incorporated. To be fair, on John Williams in Tokyo there is a fairly good balance of overused pieces and less heard ones. But some will question why there's no pieces from E.T., Jurassic Park, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind or War Horse, amongst many others.

I found the inclusion of 'Tributes! (for Seiji)' to be a rather bizarre addition. It was written for Seiji Osawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra to celebrate twenty-five years of artistic collaboration. It doesn't really fit with the other "crowd pleasers", not that I'm complaining, as it is a gorgeous piece. And, after all, this is Williams' only selection of favourites.

Overall, this is a wonderful collection of some of Williams' highlights in an illustrious career.

Track list:

01. Superman March (From “Superman”) (04:36)
02. Hedwig’s Theme (From “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”) (04:57)
03. Fawkes the Phoenix (From “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”) (03:58)
04. Harry’s Wondrous World (From “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”) (04:55)
05. Theme (From "Schindler's List") (04:07)
06. The Rebellion is Reborn (From “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) (04:11)
07. Princess Leia’s Theme (From “Star Wars: A New Hope”) (05:13)
08. Throne Room & Finale (From “Star Wars: A New Hope”) (07:59)
09. Yoda's Theme (From “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”) (03:29)
10. Raiders March (From “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”) (05:29)
11. The Imperial March (From “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (03:10)
12. Tributes! (for Seiji) (09:59)


Darren Rea

Review image

Buy this item online

Digital album
Digital album