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Dec. 5 2013 - Williams Conducts The Houston Symphony! With Yo-Yo Ma!

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It was a long time ago…..

I knew one of the trombone players and he gave the heads up on when the rehearsal was. I waited outside and caught him as he came in. I was not able to go to the concert but spent about 90 minutes at the rehearsal which was nice. The only pieces I remember were Jubilee 350 and Jabba the Hut’s theme (the tuba player had a tough time with the solo)

A couple of years later he came through with the Boston Pops. The 1st Symphony was in the program but they replaced it with The Reivers narrated by Burgess Meredith. I remember meeting him in the Greenroom after the concert and asking when he might record We’re Lookin’ Good! I don’t remember what he said but obviously it has not happened yet.

Here is the only picture I was able to get last night.

post-19882-0-17616900-1386350748_thumb.j

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The Houston Chronicle

Pair brings passion to the stage

By Steven Brown | December 6, 2013

Composer John Williams and cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought a yin-and-yang chemistry to the Houston Symphony concert devoted to Williams' movie and concert music.

Williams, who conducted Thursday, was genial but self-effacing, Ma the ebullient one - waving to the audience with his first step onstage, smiling broadly, quickly giving a thumbs-up to audience members seated behind the orchestra. When they got down to work, Ma cut a more animated figure sitting behind his cello than Williams did standing at the podium.

In a suite from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," the concert's opener, Williams showed he didn't have to jump around to get the orchestra to play with power and atmosphere. Ma's extroversion suited Williams' Cello Concerto, which casts the soloist as a mercurial protagonist....


http://www.chron.com/default/article/Pair-brings-passion-to-the-stage-5042185.php

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As one of Williams' encores, Houston Symphony concertmaster Frank Huang took center stage in the violin theme from "Schindler's List." He played spaciously and expressively, and Williams dovetailed the orchestra expertly - hardly ever taking his eyes off Huang.

After Huang finished, Williams recalled when "Schindler's List" was first screened during a production meeting at director Steven Spielberg's home. When the film ended, Williams said, he was so moved he needed a few minutes to gather himself. He then told Spielberg that such a great movie deserved a better composer.

"I know," Spielberg said. "But they're all dead!"

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As one of Williams' encores, Houston Symphony concertmaster Frank Huang took center stage in the violin theme from "Schindler's List." He played spaciously and expressively, and Williams dovetailed the orchestra expertly - hardly ever taking his eyes off Huang.

After Huang finished, Williams recalled when "Schindler's List" was first screened during a production meeting at director Steven Spielberg's home. When the film ended, Williams said, he was so moved he needed a few minutes to gather himself. He then told Spielberg that such a great movie deserved a better composer.

"I know," Spielberg said. "But they're all dead!"

Wow!

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From the review:

"Williams and Ma's combined box-office power enabled them to set a Houston Symphony record, the orchestra said Friday. Thanks to the addition of stage seats, the orchestra sold more than 2,800 tickets - a new high for a single concert."

I think this is significant. We seem to read a lot of stuff like this now, all his concerts instantly sold out, how Williams music "saved" the Brazilian symphony season, how his concerts almost feel like a rock concert...etc..

It means he won't be a footnote in music history, his music really SELLS tickets ,and maybe were not just a few obsessed geeks on a internet message board who like his music

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SymphonyCast is a two-hour weekly radio program featuring a full-length concert by a national or international symphony orchestra. The John willilams/Yo-Yo Ma Houston Symphony concert is scheduled to be broadcast the week of April 7th. A number of public radio stations carry SymphonyCast and here is a list that shows the day of the week and time when each station airs the program.

Spring Quarter 2014 Program Listings

Houston Symphony Orchestra
John Williams, conductor
Yo-Yo Ma, cello

All-JOHN WILLIAMS program

Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Cello Concerto
Pickin’
Sound the Bells!
Suite from Far and Away
Suite from Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone
Theme from Schindler’s List
“Adventures on Earth” from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

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SymphonyCast is a two-hour weekly radio program featuring a full-length concert by a national or international symphony orchestra. The John willilams/Yo-Yo Ma Houston Symphony concert is scheduled to be broadcast the week of April 7th.

Thanks for the heads-up, Kathy. The link is not yet live, but I expect the program should be available for streaming not long after it airs on the 7th:

http://symphonycast.publicradio.org/display/programs/2014/04/07/

symcast.PNG

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When did he rewrite the beginning of the Cello Concerto? I don't like it. It's a work I'm ambivalent towards on the best days, but the new beginning sounds so indifferent as opposed to the brass that used to open the work. It's a little too unassuming, especially compared to the theme that the cello opens with.

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When did he rewrite the beginning of the Cello Concerto? I don't like it. It's a work I'm ambivalent towards on the best days, but the new beginning sounds so indifferent as opposed to the brass that used to open the work. It's a little too unassuming, especially compared to the theme that the cello opens with.

This was the first time I heard this version as well. I miss the original opening but liked the changes as a whole. The concerto seems to have a better overall arc this way. Plus, the first and fourth movements have some really nice passages that were not there before.

btw, the description of the concert given was just downright insulting to Williams "Description:

For some, this is a guilty pleasure like few others: John Williams conducting his own works. Time to make some popcorn!"

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Being my favorite Williams work, I can say that this is the third revision of the Cello Concerto.

Do you like the changes? I am guessing the second revision is found in the DSO recording; I think I caught that one on one of their Encore broadcasts, but I cannot remember the details. How significant are the changes from the second to third versions?

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In the second revision, the opening is identical to the original. The main differences are on the final movement, that got augmented. This new revision seems to keep most of the alterations made in that last movement. I still need more time to compare them. But I think there are a few little things altered that just someone who knows the piece by heart will notice.

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Thanks. I think Williams' revisions show that he has an invested interest in this piece, which is a good thing.

Right from the start that Williams showed great pried on this one -- he stated in a 1995 interview that he had hope to record it soon, coupled with Korngold's concerto. Then again he said the same with "7 for Luck" song cycle and nothing has happened since it's premiere -- though the piece has been performed a few times recently.

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I was a little take aback by the new intro as well. Sorta reminded me of the Memoirs of a Geisha ostinato for a second. Not sure what I think of it yet.

When it started I honestly thought I was hearing an alternate from Memoirs. It sounds like the changes are only in the outer movements. I do think that the opening of the work more effectively sets up the tutti in the first movement by establishing some rhythmic motion from the outset. I'm less sold on the addition of tam-tam to the ending roll; it was already a pretty ominous ending and that addition only makes it heavier. To me it seems like the concerto ends in a bleak place, at least compared to where it begins. The work as a whole doesn't hold together as well as I would like.

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I actually love the ending of the concerto. As for the new opening, at first I was in somewhat shock... I've known the work since the late 90's, and I guess I'm too accustomed to the brassier opening. But during the week I've been listening to the concerto on a very regular basis, and it's growing on me. Though I think I still prefer the original opening (from the original version or second revision).

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I have not heard the second revision, but the third I wasn't too thrilled about. Its not that you can really compare the two though, the first movement he made huge cuts and re-writes. There is still a lot intact, but still have to put on a different set of ears to appreciate the new version, which has a completely different feel, much leaner. Some of the new material i like quite a bit, but i also loved the old just as much, specifically in the last movement. I personally think if he combined the two it would sound just swell, but I don't see that ever happening.


Also, where can I find the second revised version recording?

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I have not heard the second revision, but the third I wasn't too thrilled about. Its not that you can really compare the two though, the first movement he made huge cuts and re-writes. There is still a lot intact, but still have to put on a different set of ears to appreciate the new version, which has a completely different feel, much leaner. Some of the new material i like quite a bit, but i also loved the old just as much, specifically in the last movement. I personally think if he combined the two it would sound just swell, but I don't see that ever happening.

Also, where can I find the second revised version recording?

The second revision is the recording made by Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony in 2012. From what I understand it should be released any time now -- unless they had to record it again to comply with the new revision.

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I think I'll start to prefer this new opening. It's less flashy, fanfarey Williams which is probably a good thing. Instead of having all that energy and momentum right from the start, it instead slowly accretes over the first few minutes. It makes the passages with the thundering drums all the more thrilling.

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Have to say I really like the revisions to the final movement! Very powerful finale. The opening changes seem, as mentioned, to reflect a little MEMOIRS. Why not? It was a highly successful collaboration.

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Have to say I really like the revisions to the final movement! Very powerful finale. The opening changes seem, as mentioned, to reflect a little MEMOIRS. Why not? It was a highly successful collaboration.

The new opening is certainly very different from the exclamatory brass of the earlier versions (which I still like better than this almost shy opening) and as you say there are a bit of those minimalistic motoric figures employed in Geisha also audible here but it is more of an augmentation of them as the original version also had similar propelling motif carrying the 1st movement.

The concert features also perhaps the best rendition of With Malice Toward None concert piece. The orchestra has such beautiful, full and warm sound. :)

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Also the Theme from Jurassic Park is missing the opening horn solo and is played with the usual faster pace of the concert suite compared to the film version. It always gives it a bit rushed feel, like the orchestra was in a hurry to finish and go home. :P

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I'm not sure if I prefer the new first movement. It probably flows better in the beginning, but the developments of teh rhythmic motive that opens the original version loses some of its impact since it's introduced so much later in the movement.

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Also the Theme from Jurassic Park is missing the opening horn solo and is played with the usual faster pace of the concert suite compared to the film version. It always gives it a bit rushed feel, like the orchestra was in a hurry to finish and go home. :P

That is not from the concert. That one is the Boston Pops recording, from "Williams on Williams".

But I fully agree that "With Malice Toward None" is the best performance we have of the piece.

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Also the Theme from Jurassic Park is missing the opening horn solo and is played with the usual faster pace of the concert suite compared to the film version. It always gives it a bit rushed feel, like the orchestra was in a hurry to finish and go home. :P

That is not from the concert. That one is the Boston Pops recording, from "Williams on Williams".

But I fully agree that "With Malice Toward None" is the best performance we have of the piece.

Ah well oddly they cut the horn opening from the performance. :blink:

But I think Williams also usually likes to conduct it with this same brisker pace.

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I haven't finished the entire second hour of the broadcast, but I don't see the LINCOLN music listed in the program. I'd love to hear this version of "With Malice Towards None" you're talking about.

The mp3 I made of the cello concerto came out really well. These streams are getting very high quality!

TJH


I haven't finished the entire second hour of the broadcast, but I don't see the LINCOLN music listed in the program. I'd love to hear this version of "With Malice Towards None" you're talking about.

The mp3 I made of the cello concerto came out really well. These streams are getting very high quality!

TJH

Oops, nevermind... Just got to it after HARRY POTTER. It IS good!

TJH

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From earlier in the thread:

SymphonyCast is a two-hour weekly radio program featuring a full-length concert by a national or international symphony orchestra. The John willilams/Yo-Yo Ma Houston Symphony concert is scheduled to be broadcast the week of April 7th.

Thanks for the heads-up, Kathy. The link is not yet live, but I expect the program should be available for streaming not long after it airs on the 7th:

http://symphonycast.publicradio.org/display/programs/2014/04/07/

symcast.PNG

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