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    Some days you're the fifth wheel, and some days you're the flat tire.
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  1. Since the back of my head appears in some of the earlier photos (I was sitting in A 12 on the orchestra right side), I might as well chime in... I didn't have the best viewing angle, but the performances and sound were excellent, and it indeed was a very nice concert. The opening montage of his various filmography played to the music from E.T. was very nice, as it covered other aspects of his career beyond his blockbusters, like Born on the Fourth of July, Far and Away, and Seven Years in Tibet. Home Alone seemed to get a noticeable reaction, although I wasn't sure if it was due to a fondness/nostalgia for it, or that some didn't realize that was one of Williams many iconic works. When Steven Spielberg spoke, he didn't go into the usual anecdotes, i.e., thinking the two-note motif to Jaws was a gag, or how Williams felt he wasn't worthy enough to score Schindler's List. Instead, he gave a simple, but a loving reflection of how he and Williams first started working together and that this collaboration and friendship continues fifty years later. Spielberg and Denève gave Williams a couple of shutouts, which then the audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation. People were filming and taking pictures, but I couldn't tell where was until seeing a later video. Anne-Sophie Mutter on "Markings" was both a work of art in performance and composition. For me, when Williams writes a concert work, he seems to have not only color and texture in mind, but ambiance as well when performed in a formal, classical hall setting. I could pick out more details from the orchestra that isn't as noticeable on the album recording. Her later duet with Yo-Yo Ma was also a nice touch, in a "Dueling Banjos" kind of way, and how they playfully dared the other to outdo the last bit of playing. Denève did an excellent job with Jurassic Park, as thx99 mentioned, as this rendition was closer to the tempo of the original film recording. The revision that Williams did, which I believe began in 1995 with the Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores album (and carried through subsequent performances/recordings), took away a lot of the grandeur and majesty with the faster pace. Slightly disappointing was the Superman March, as it was truncated and had a quite a few jarring transitions. However, the montage of Williams over the years made up for that, which included some rarely seen ones, such one photo where it looked like he was napping on the couch after a difficult recording session. When 90 years old you reach, conduct as much you will not, but Williams's much anticipated appearance just for the sole encore of "The Imperial March" was worth it. Earlier Denève made this comment about Williams, which really summed up not just the event, but his career: "John's music is timeless, but he is ageless."
  2. Part of the issue is that Mike and Nick had a relatively short window to get it edited, mixed, and mastered to coincide with the special edition release of the trilogy. I've tended to prefer the RCA 2-CD set, at least in the case of Empire, because of the sound quality. The Arista set, which adhered to Eric Tomilson's stellar mix, had quite a few dropouts and other anomalies as the tapes used at the time was the only available source. If anyone hasn't read it before, check out the Jan/Feb 1997 issue of Film Score Monthly (available in the "print backissues" section as a PDF); Mike wrote some really good articles about it not covered in the RCA liner notes.
  3. Kojian's. The biggest selling points: The 20th Century-Fox Fanfare, plus what was then the unreleased material. This and the OST albums (this was years before we had expansions of any kind) were so ingrained in my ears that hearing Williams own collective take of the trilogy years later was anticlimactic. I felt the playing by the Skywalker Symphony was lackluster, uninspiring, and too slow. It was almost as if Williams was tired of having to hear this Frankenstein's monster that he created with the Star Wars theme for the umpteenth time. Then again, it might have been due to the SSO being a pickup group. One of the comments I read when the album was released was that it didn't seem to have the kind of performance from an established orchestra.
  4. Yeah, even as a 9-year old back then, I thought the liner notes concerning Star Wars were a bit silly ("'Battle it out' with cosmic explosions," "Space You Out," etc.) for a movie I took very seriously! If anyone is curious on what Marty Gold's arrangement on Star Wars sounded like: Mine was also scratchy and prone to skipping as heard here! Still, I played it a lot since it was all I had in terms of Star Wars music at the time.
  5. Not counting all those later CD and digital editions, I still have the original double-LP, as was released on 20th Century Fox Records. Later I "upgraded" to the cassette because I needed a clean-sounding tape for portable listening purposes as the vinyl eventually made too many loud cracks and pops to make a good recording out it. While Star Wars, as was the case for many others, was the movie that got me into John Williams and film music, it was actually my third LP album of his after Superman and The Empire Strikes Back. Before that, the only thing I could afford was this cheap compilation (about $4 in the late 1970s) from Peter Pan Records. It was more orchestral (to put it mildly) than Meco's version, but still had quite bit of that disco vibe. And it wasn't really what I'd call a cover version, more like an arrangement with variants that made the music unrecognizable at times.
  6. If memory serves, members of the Boston Pops didn't care for it, either. This was apparently the source of creative differences that nearly had Williams quitting the BPO back in the early '80s. The 1941 march doesn't do too much for me; maybe it's the flamboyancy or comedic tone of it, although the same probably could be said of "March of the Villains," which I actually do enjoy.
  7. Didn't critic Royal S. Brown also make comments along those lines of how Williams actually set back the progress of film music by going all out retro for Star Wars? I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something to that effect.
  8. The intended version for me as well. With the release of the FSM set, not only was it a revelation in finally listening to the intended main titles restored in its rightful place after the "Prelude," but also hearing it synchronized to the title sequence (featured in FSM's "Score Restore" article when the Blue Box was released). However, since seeing the clip, now all those nuances in the performance where the orchestra "hits"/modulates/flourishes on the names in the credits sticks out far, far more than ever before in just listening to it by itself. But in a good way, since the intended main titles now makes more sense musically, if that makes any sense, and this is the version is my "go to" when I want to hear the Superman theme. But for nearly 30 years, until 2008, I had always loved the film version -- with those two edits. It was something about this performance of the main theme that had a bit of an oomph to it that seemed absent on the original 2-LP album. For a time I had thought this was a version that Williams recorded specifically for the credit sequence. And of course, that was not the case, and that it wasn't later that what I found to be so energetic about the performance (i.e., a bit faster) was due to a slight pitch alteration! I remember wondering why the LP sounded so slow in comparison... I thought my dad's turntable wasn't calibrated properly, so I had cranked the speed control up to make it sound more like what I heard in the movie -- and I'm not referring to changing it from "33" to "45" speed; it had a knob to fine tune going up or down in pitch. The glory days of analog technology with knobs and buttons!
  9. There can be too much of a good thing, sometimes. With all those expansions from last year and more recently that of SUPERMAN, it's almost coming at the expense of listening to the newer releases. I still have a big backlog of new (that aren't new anymore!) albums that are still sitting on the shelf, unopened because of this. It's not necessarily a good problem to have. Still, I eagerly await whatever expanded scores are coming out just to repeat the cycle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  10. My set came in on Wednesday, and I'm very pleased. The orchestral details are very striking, indeed, as many have pointed out. Not all the tracks are night and day difference when compared to the FSM set, but in most cases the instrumentation can be heard with even greater clarity and stereo separation. I gave it a couple listens through speakers and on my computer (as FLAC files through a DAC and Sony MDR-7506 headphones). You can almost hear each specific section of orchestra in finer detail, with the first chair leading the way. That said -- I concur with what jwalk713 said about the film version of the "Prelude and Main Title." One of my favorite portions of the piece, as heard in the film (both the original sound mix, the music remix for the DVD/Blu-ray) and the FSM edition, is the theme reprise after the love theme. When the swirling strings and percussion kick in (i.e. cymbal crashes, tinkling of the xylophones), it's a nice counterpoint to the brass,and it really gives an added energy and drive. But on the LLL version, it was toned down to the point where it's almost inaudible, almost going backwards as it were, to the 1978 album mix. I guess this was what Mike Matessino alluding to on "levels." It's what Williams signed off on, so we're hearing what he wants us to hear. So I'm not going to retire the FSM version from my hard drive just yet; I'm just too used to that particular mix. Also it's finally great to have the alternate "Prelude and Main Title" in better quality. It always sounded rough on the Rhino edition; the FSM was a marginal improvement, but this one finally sounds fresh and consistent with the rest of the tracks. And yes, the early version of "The Fortress Solitude" is a bit of quasi-religious experience to listen to... but I'm half-expecting Obi-Wan to materialize instead to teach Clark the ways of the Force.
  11. The Amazon link that Jay provided is correct for the jewel case version of TLJ. I ordered it from Amazon.co.uk back on 12/18 and it arrived today. Just a comparison of the jewel case and standard:
  12. 24 hours later, this news is still sinking in. Like others, I was keeping vigil, hoping that he wasn't involved in the plane crash. But with little in the way of updates, it became grimmer by the hour. It's all the more tragic because he still had many more years of creativity in the making. The passing of like Goldsmith, Rosenman, Poledouris, etc., were at least "easier" to accept because they were in ill health and you knew eventually time would catch up. But this one really stings.. For me, the two scores of his that made me take notice of him were Star Trek II and Cocoon. I remember how some would refer to Horner as "that young guy that writes like John Williams" back then, and I could see why. Horner certainly was the "Three J"s that others have discussed that really made my film music appreciation what it is today. He could write big soaring overtures with the best of them, yet when it was needed, the more sensitive and intimate themes, too. But I remember being especially impressed because he was just a young gun starting out, doing that at a time when Goldsmith and Williams were the go-to composers. It was fun to follow Horner's career, with all the highs and lows (not to mention those online discussions of how he constantly repeated/borrowed), and see what he would accomplish at the same age. Alas, we will never know. But he's already left a full legacy that will be with us forever. I know that Giacchino, Tyler and McCreary mentioned in their tweets the impact that Horner had on them. And perhaps as with Williams and Goldsmith before him, someone will discover Horner the same way and become a film composer, too. (I'm sure that's already happened, but I'd like to see more on the way all the same.)
  13. Sometimes I wonder if the Academy is voting in committee. As it stands, most of them don't know what they're voting for, at least in the technical categories. How does Alan Menken win a total of 8 Oscars, coming only behind Alfred Newman's nine? Or that he is only the second composer to win Best Original Score, next to the great Franz Waxman, in consecutives years? Or Ann Dudley winning for The Full Monty, the worst possible choice of the nominees? I despise the trend of giving an Oscar as an "apology" or compensation rather than giving it towards a more deserving nominee. I really don't know how much the voting process is scrutinized. But I remember from a communications class I took in college, there seemed to be a trend where some voting members would actually let their wives/girlfriends do the actual voting. Or the case where someone apparently rounded up unsent ballots from his colleagues and did all the voting himself to try at least pad out certain categories. We'll see how Santaolalla fares after this win. Filmmakers will think he's an Oscar winner, so obviously the guy must be great. Then he'll probably be offered some prime projects and get his score rejected like Stephen Warbeck and Gabriel Yared before him. Or maybe he'll go back to obscurity and never heard from again....
  14. I'm not that surprised Williams didn't win, given the history of how Academy voters chooses the music winners. It almost always goes to someone whom I've never heard of, or has music that goes some "important" film (however bland the music might be), or has been said, some guy with a foriegn name (suggesting the person writes more serious music). Didn't Santaolalla write the music before he was even associated with the film? How does that qualify? Of course, it also doesn't help when the music branch picks certain (undeserving?) nominees in the first place! If only the winners were chosen by their respective categories...
  15. Even with reading all the spoilers and spy reports, I was cautiously optimistic going in. And after the first viewing, at least, it pretty much met up the standard I was looking for: dark, brooding, and tragic. More emotion. Perhaps a wee bit too much action that could have been used in more character driven moments. I didn't set any high standard for it as I did with AOTC, and found ROTS to be good enough to close off the Star Wars saga.
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