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Poll: Favorite JW Concerto and Concerto Movement

Favorite JW Concerto and Concerto Movement  

34 members have voted

  1. 1. What's your favorite concerto by John Williams?

    • Flute Concerto (1969)
      2
    • Violin Concerto (1976, rev. 1998)
      4
    • Tuba Concerto (1985)
      4
    • Clarinet Concerto (1991)
      0
    • Bassoon Concerto - "The Five Sacred Trees" (1993)
      9
    • Trumpet Concerto (1995)
      4
    • Horn Concerto (2003)
      2
    • Viola Concerto (2009)
      2
    • Harp Concerto - "On Willows and Birches" (2009)
      1
    • Oboe Concerto (2011)
      0
    • Cello Concerto (1994)
      6
  2. 2. What concerto contains your favorite individual movment?

    • Flute Concerto (1969)
      1
    • Violin Concerto (1976, rev. 1998)
      5
    • Tuba Concerto (1985)
      6
    • Clarinet Concerto (1991)
      0
    • Bassoon Concerto - "The Five Sacred Trees" (1993)
      9
    • Trumpet Concerto (1995)
      2
    • Horn Concerto (2003)
      7
    • Viola Concerto (2009)
      0
    • Harp Concerto - "On Willows and Birches" (2009)
      0
    • Oboe Concerto (2011)
      0
    • Cello Concerto (1994)
      4


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As far as I know, this hasn't been presented as a poll to JWfan yet! Which out of John Williams's 10 concerti is your favorite? I'm only counting pieces explicitly called concerti (apologies to "Treesong,"  "Heartwood," "Scherzo for Piano and Orchestra," etc). Most of these now have at least one commercially available recording, and even the less recorded ones (Clarinet, Viola) can be heard if you search the right places online...

 

I thought it would be helpful to split the poll into two questions -- favorite overall concerto, and concerto that contains your favorite single movement. So, for example, JW's Horn Concerto doesn't do that much for me overall, but the final "Nocturne" movement is one of the loveliest things he's ever written and probably stands as my favorite individual concerto movement. But in terms of overall appreciation, I'd probably go with the underrated Viola Concerto, with Cello and Bassoon concertos close behind.

 

What do you all think?

 

 

 

 

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"Five Sacred Trees" is my favourite, by a wide margin.

 

I'm not really into movements (just as I'm not really into individual tracks on soundtracks); it's just one whole piece that I listen to from start to finish. So I just had to pick "Five Sacred Trees" for that too.

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50 minutes ago, Richard said:

The original 1983 recording of the VIOLIN CONCERTO rules. I don't like the '98 revision.

 

The '98 revision takes a lot of teeth out of the original, and throws in a few of his common excesses around the '90s, but the revision that was a couple of years ago returned a lot of its earlier bite, and stripped down a bunch of those extra flourishes etc., keeping in Williams' sparser chamber aesthetic he's adopted for a while.

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Tricky question. I am not a big fan at all of JW's concert works, but if pressed for a favourite, then Five Sacred Trees and Trunks, Branches and Leaves from Treesong is maybe my favourite movement, but since that doesn't count, then I am not sure what my favourite movement is, so I voted for the same work there too. My least favourites ones that I have heard are probably the flute concerto and trumpet concerto, the latter being warmed over Arutiunian which is crappy to begin with. I don't feel any urge to revisit any of JW's concert works though, I never listen to any of them. Most of them are why did you bother kind of dull. There is just so much other music I'd rather listen to. These days I am mostly just into Close Encounters and A.I. when it comes to JW.

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1 hour ago, Jay said:

The Sherzo for Piano and Orchestra doesn't count?

 

http://www.jwfan.com/forums/index.php?/topic/24502-scherzo-for-piano-and-orchestra

 

Not sure if that qualifies as a 'concerto', strictly speaking. Perhaps it is, since it's a concert piece written for a solo instrument -- but then there are many other Williams concert works not on the list we would have to consider too. I'll leave the 'concerto' definitions to the musicologists here.

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For my money, Treesong is a concerto.  The Scherzo is like a fragment of a concerto. Heartwood is more of a tone poem for cello and orchestra.

I chose Trumpet Concerto by a narrow margin over the Violin, most;y because I am ambivalent about the third movement in the latter.  The Trumpet is a full bodied work with no dross.  I am not a fan of the Sandoval recording, however.

 

Favorite movement is the Nocturne, of course

 

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26 minutes ago, Falstaft said:

 

Oh, I wasn't trying to split hairs or anything; I just chose the pieces that Williams himself entitled "Concerto." :)

 

I do think Treesong could easily qualify as Violin Concerto No. 2 -- I actually prefer it to the Violin Concerto proper, any of the versions. As for the Piano Scherzo, it's a single movement and a bit slight to be counted as a true concerto, no? 

 

I'm pleased and not tremendously surprised to see so many fans of the Horn Concerto's "Nocturne". Simply an exquisite piece. 

 

 

 

 

4:20ish on--especially after about 5:02ish-- is the type of stuff that makes Williams my favorite composer.

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18 minutes ago, Miguel Andrade said:

You forgot the Cello Concerto, which happens to be my favorite one.

 

Ahh! How could I have left that out! It's the first of his concerti I ever heard!

 

It's now in the poll, at the bottom.

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1 hour ago, Nick Parker said:

 

Is there a way to listen to the viola concerto outside of (in better quality than) YouTube?

 

Not as far as I know, unfortunately...

 

There's the original Pops premiere in very low quality, but with the maestro himself conducting:

 

 

And a quite fine recording of the viola/piano reduction: 

 

 

Between these suboptimal renditions and the Hal Leonard score, I think there's enough to go on to form an opinion of the piece.

 

 

 

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20 minutes ago, A Ghost From Highwood said:

His Clarinet Concerto is very beautiful, it strangely reminds me of his scores to E.T. and A.I.

 

but the recording though... 🤦🏻‍♂️ clearly not an official release 🙄

 

Indeed! I'd wager the Clarinet Concerto his most underrated concerto, if for no other reason than the fact its one release leaves so much to be desired in terms of recording quality (though Zukovsky's performance is fabulous). It's one I also need to get to know better. As far as I know, there's no easily available sheet music for it to study either. Something for Hal Leonard to get cracking on?

 

Of course, this is the most "John Williamsy" clarinet showcase! :P

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG8IdcqBXfA 

 

 

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19 hours ago, Falstaft said:

 

Indeed! I'd wager the Clarinet Concerto his most underrated concerto, if for no other reason than the fact its one release leaves so much to be desired in terms of recording quality (though Zukovsky's performance is fabulous). It's one I also need to get to know better. As far as I know, there's no easily available sheet music for it to study either. Something for Hal Leonard to get cracking on?

 

Of course, this is the most "John Williamsy" clarinet showcase! :P

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG8IdcqBXfA 

 

 

together with his Viola Concerto, two amazing masterpieces 

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I'm surprised at that the Five Sacred Trees is the most popular, it's one I often forget about. Was the Violin Concerto actually revised a third time or was it just oddly preformed (in my opinion)? I remember it being so slow in parts that it sounded different, but actually wasn't. If it was really revised, i'm disappointed. I really liked that revision a lot, however, I did actually happen to listen to the original today before seeing the thread, and although for the most part I like the revisions better, the original intro for that work was way better. I love the winds with the violin.

 

The viola concerto is fantastic, but there isn't a good recording of it anywhere, they're all pretty crappy, or only the reduction available.

Same goes for the clarinet concerto, too bad the audio quality is so shitty. Although, I heard he never was happy with that one.

 

The flute concerto, as all the other works, as revisions to it as well from recent years, but I don't think there has been a performance of that yet.

 

The cello concerto has been revised to death, I guess you would have to further the topic by which one do you like best, because they're not really revisions, but changes.

 

I LOVED the revisions to the trumpet concerto, they're just what the piece needed (which I couldn't previous get into, did anyone else feel that way?)

 

I also think Highwood's Ghost should be included in this as well. It's the length of a concerto, why can't it be considered? That's a great piece as well.

 

Tree song should be on the list, Heartwood too, which is my favorite concert piece of his.

 

 

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9 hours ago, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

I also think Highwood's Ghost should be included in this as well. It's the length of a concerto, why can't it be considered? That's a great piece as well.

 

Tree song should be on the list, Heartwood too, which is my favorite concert piece of his.

 

As the topic starter said, he only included works with the 'concerto' title in it. I'm sure there are many more of his works that could have been included, and that would qualify in a technical sense. But I think that was a neat way to narrow it down.

 

As for revisions, I've never really cared that much, to be honest. Might have a passing, academic interest, but as long as I have a good version that is performed well, I can live perfectly fine with just that for the rest of my life.

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1 hour ago, Thor said:

As for revisions, I've never really cared that much, to be honest. Might have a passing, academic interest, but as long as I have a good version that is performed well, I can live perfectly fine with just that for the rest of my life.

 

 

Good on ya then. Every time he changes something I look like him in your avatar. But does anyone know about the violin concerto when it was played with Deneve/Shaham? Was that a another revision or just played very differently?

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After reviving an old thread about JW's symphony a moment ago, I thought I'd come here to ask a couple of related questions instead of starting a new thread. 

 

1. Regardless of what you think of his concert music, do you think JW aspires to a certain measure of greatness with his concert works that would allow him, say, to be programmed or critically analyzed alongside "proper" contemporary classical composers? For example, if we lived in an alternate world where absolutely none of his film music existed and the name & reputation of John Williams could only be built on his concert pieces, do you think he'd aspire to be considered a worthy peer of those who count among the "great" living composers?

 

2. Do you personally think his concert oeuvre on its own allows JW to be considered a good "classical" composer?

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Well we have to think that, in EUROPE and the REST OF THE WORLD his concert music is actually played fairly frequently. Actually, all his music. He is considered a serious composer. It's only in the USA, land of the imbeciles, that he is "that film guy"who "dabbles"in music, as if there is even a serious American contender to his abilities, let alone the rest of the world. To be realistic, the people who say that are people who are jealous of him (meaning other composers) and people who are trying to sound sophisticated an austere, when they actually just sound like snobby assholes.

 

I think if he had a better publisher though he would be played even more. Most of his works you had to request specifically from him to have played, and some of them still are that way. That of course makes things more challenging. But 100% if you only had his concert works, they stand alone as a the work of a great composer, but that's not to say that any of his music is better than the other because of the tone or style.

 

Unless for some reason he goes back and revises it, the Symphony will never get played in his life time. It USED to be in the cataloge of a publisher, and when Hal Leonard took it over, the work was withdrawn completely. I don't even think they knew it was there, and had forgotten about it. It's basically the Sinfonietta, but with strings. Harsh and edgy. I think it's an interesting foot note in his musical history, but if you're waiting for Beethoven's final grand symphony, you might be a little disappointed.

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5 hours ago, Iron_Giant said:

For example, if we lived in an alternate world where absolutely none of his film music existed and the name & reputation of John Williams could only be built on his concert pieces, do you think he'd aspire to be considered a worthy peer of those who count among the "great" living composers?

He's have a much more extensive body of work, but it is hard to say how things would play out.  His romantic and jazz sensibilities might come up to the surface enough for peers to overlook him.  Or, like Rouse or Glass, for example, he could maintain a comfortable niche somewhere between the critical and public consciousness.

6 hours ago, Iron_Giant said:

Do you personally think his concert oeuvre on its own allows JW to be considered a good "classical" composer?

His film music alone qualifies him for this.  And his concert output, taken all together, concerti and overtures and the like, is quite a body.  Personally, I think that it does get him a seat at that "classical" table you refer, but perhaps not a very high seat if taken only by itself.  I do believe his best, most worthy work is for film.

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On 3/20/2019 at 11:20 AM, WilliamsStarShip2282 said:

 

 

Good on ya then. Every time he changes something I look like him in your avatar. But does anyone know about the violin concerto when it was played with Deneve/Shaham? Was that a another revision or just played very differently?

Shaham mentions on an interview with WCRB at the time of the Boston performance that he had done some very minor changes, like one note here, one note there... Deneve and Shaham also played the concerto later at the Hollywood Bowl.

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I'm going to bump this thread because it looks like the most appropriate recent one to post in. In a thread about SW Ep. IX, Not Mr. Big today provided a link to an article on JW and Ep.IX that begins with an overview of JW's career. It says, in particular, JW has written "15 concertos, numerous symphonies, themes for four Olympic Games and the first string quartet" for a Presidential inauguration.

 

Out of that list, only the Olympics seems correct to me. Falstaft's poll lists 11 concertos, not 15. We've recently covered how JW has only written one symphony (not "numerous"). And what is this string quartet? The only inauguration music I'm aware of is Obama's, which he wrote for violin, cello, clarinet and piano.

 

Did the writer simply get most of his facts wrong??

 

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3 minutes ago, Bayesian said:

I'm going to bump this thread because it looks like the most appropriate recent one to post in. In a thread about SW Ep. IX, Not Mr. Big today provided a link to an article on JW and Ep.IX that begins with an overview of JW's career. It says, in particular, JW has written "15 concertos, numerous symphonies, themes for four Olympic Games and the first string quartet" for a Presidential inauguration.

 

Out of that list, only the Olympics seems correct to me. Falstaft's poll lists 11 concertos, not 15. We've recently covered how JW has only written one symphony (not "numerous"). And what is this string quartet? The only inauguration music I'm aware of is Obama's, which he wrote for violin, cello, clarinet and piano.

 

Did the writer simply get most of his facts wrong??

 

Yes, believe it or not newspaper journalists are not the bastions of truth and accuracy that they often claim. 

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Ok, I get that, but to make three substantial errors in one line is... not impressive, to say the least.

I guess I was hoping that I'd learn of something new in the JW oeuvre (new to me, at least) but it appears that won't be the case.

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10 hours ago, Bayesian said:

Ok, I get that, but to make three substantial errors in one line is... not impressive, to say the least.

 

Actually, it is pretty impressive to get so much wrong in one line. You usually see only one or two in such newspaper articles.

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On 3/7/2019 at 2:59 PM, Thor said:

"Five Sacred Trees" is my favourite, by a wide margin.

 

I'm not really into movements (just as I'm not really into individual tracks on soundtracks); it's just one whole piece that I listen to from start to finish. So I just had to pick "Five Sacred Trees" for that too.

 

I'm looking forward to its sequel - The Six Sacred Trees!

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17 hours ago, Bayesian said:

I'm going to bump this thread because it looks like the most appropriate recent one to post in. In a thread about SW Ep. IX, Not Mr. Big today provided a link to an article on JW and Ep.IX that begins with an overview of JW's career. It says, in particular, JW has written "15 concertos, numerous symphonies, themes for four Olympic Games and the first string quartet" for a Presidential inauguration.

 

Out of that list, only the Olympics seems correct to me. Falstaft's poll lists 11 concertos, not 15. We've recently covered how JW has only written one symphony (not "numerous"). And what is this string quartet? The only inauguration music I'm aware of is Obama's, which he wrote for violin, cello, clarinet and piano.

 

Did the writer simply get most of his facts wrong??

 

The article probably lumps in things like TreeSong and Markings in with the concerti.  As for the "String Quartet," that probably referes to the La Jolla Quartet.

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