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Everything posted by Seth

  1. 1941, easy. I think it's the best in terms of structure, and the counterpoint in the final strain that combines the main tune and the B theme puts it over the top for me.
  2. I was finally able to play this through today. I had either forgotten--or never realized--how unforgiving this score is. I can't think of much more music in Williams' output that is so relentlessly oppressive and unnerving. Even the lighter material has a shadow over it. It's very much a companion to AI and Minority Report in that loose sci-fi trilogy Spielberg made in the early 2000s. I really appreciate the action music for its unrelenting rhythmic drive and reliance on mid- and low-range colors--the antiphonal timpani (!) and massed horns and trombones with low strings that mark The Intersection Scene and The Ferry Scene, but I had forgotten about the textural elements--I really love repeated figures for high muted trumpets--in the basement scenes and the lurching, unstable chords in the horns near the climax of The Red Planet. I wish there were more examples outside of this score of the emotionally aloof, icy string writing that Williams used so well here, where two contrapuntal lines sort of move around each other. In terms of atmosphere, cues like Refugee Status remind me a little of how Williams scored the family separation/Shanghai street scenes in Empire of the Sun and I have no complaints. It's definitely a score I'll have to be in the mood to listen to, but I'm glad to have a treatment that emphasizes the musical narrative.
  3. +1. I wish someone would pay for Williams to re-record the OT scores with those session players and the same engineering setup, because those quotes are just beautifully played and recorded. I think the biggest difference in the orchestra size is the string counts (50 or 52 in the OT, I think, vs, 60-64 in the prequels?), and to my ears Williams' OT string writing sounds fine. For some reason I don't like the crash cymbal sounds in scores like CE3K or The Fury, but that's not a big enough gripe to want a new recording. I wouldn't mind a new Last Crusade though. I don't know if it's the orchestra or recording, but it's kind of a slog to listen to that one because Dan Wallin made it sound devoid of life. The Concord box sounds a little better than the original album, but it's such a flat recording that it really doesn't help. I'd also like to hear Minority Report or A.I. recorded by someone other than Shawn Murphy, although I really do like what Mike Matessino was able to do with the expansions. I was also listening to War Horse and Tintin again last week, and the trumpets--as a section--sound off in both of those scores. It doesn't sound like Williams' writing is that much different than usual, but they so thin and sort of tinny, not all the more robust sound he was getting prior to 2011, and I'm curious as to why.
  4. I wish the Star Wars sequel trilogy also had brief trumpet solos like the first 6 scores did. I also really missed the airy synth textures that he used to such great effect in the prequel trilogy. The main Schindler's List theme doesn't sit well with me. It draws too much attention to itself and verges on melodrama. I think the material developed in Remembrances would have been a better defining identity for the score. I get what you're saying, but I was really impressed with how closely he was able to follow the cuts and shifting action in the film. The Last Jedi was definitely a grower for me and I think it might be my favorite score of the sequel trilogy (though I'm not sure how much of that is the merits of the music and how much is the fact that it's actually audible in the mix and reasonably intact.)
  5. I'm sure this is an unrealistic wish, but I would love it if the booklet gives some sort of details on the makeup of the orchestra in some of the action cues. I've always been curious about that after noticing the number of brass players in the roster contained in the OST liner notes. I seriously doubt any cues called for 12 horns or 6 trombones, but the brass writing in this score has more weight than just about anything else he's done. Anyway, very excited to listen to the score in order as it's not one of my favorite Williams album presentations.
  6. This. Temple of Doom is just too much; I admire the technique behind it all but I really don't want to listen to most of it. The Lost World is unique and I like that it sort of stands out in his work. It's another example of why 1996-2005 is second only to 1977-1983 (and it's close) in how I rate the periods of Williams' career.
  7. I think my favorite bit of the cue is the exposed woodwind and horn writing where Williams intertwines the themes for Rey and the Resistance. It's a terrifically effective use of two themes I don't think he had let play together before. When I saw the film, though, my ears perked up the most at the ostinato pointed out by @Marian Schedenig, and I was struck by how fluidly Williams built out from that figure to drive the cue to a resolution. The trumpet figures near the end remind me a little of how he accompanied the very first statements of Kylo Ren's theme way back in Attack on the Jakku Village. It's all these little things that make me want to hear everything he wrote for this installment (and the rest of the sequel trilogy).
  8. I assume you mean the end of episode 6, referring to the Philip Glass tracking? I was wondering about that because it seemed so far removed from what Stein and Dixon had done so far. But it worked exceptionally well, better than anything they would have come up, I think. I still don't think the first two seasons could have supported a more traditional orchestral score, but I think this season has crossed into territory that maybe outstrips Stein and Dixon's abilities. I have a half-formed suspicion that they don't score to picture, and I wonder if that's part of why it's seemed underwhelming this time around, given that the stakes feel higher this time and things seem to have more dramatic weight. I didn't mind the synth score the first couple of times, but if the show continues--much less builds on what they've done this year--I wouldn't mind seeing a change in musical approach.
  9. The finale is the movement I have always thought worked the best, and you're right that the climax really is beautiful. Maybe it's just me, but I have also thought that the end of the piece has almost an air of dread about it. The closing bars have always sounded very dark and foreboding to me.
  10. It's interesting you single some of these scores out. Nixon, Seven Years in Tibet, and Sleepers are things I've been getting to know lately, and there's some stunning music in those scores. His mid to late 90s scores don't seem to get so much attention, but they are substantial and rewarding if you take the time. His thematic material in those scores has a "breathing" quality that, to me, is a bit unique. By that I mean that the phrases have a very natural ebb and flow, and his conducting of the scores is very fluid and attentive. Now I'm just babbling. But still--give those scores some attention and I think you'll find a lot to like. It even inspired me to buy another copy of Rosewood, since I gave it up a couple of moves ago and now wish I hadn't. As far as my own answer to the question here, I can't think of anything. Like @Nick Parker, I've gotten some degree of enjoyment out of most of his scores and concert works (the Cello and Flute Concerti notwithstanding--I don't think I will ever come around to the Cello Concerto, even though it's got a lot of fans here). I suppose the nearest experience I've had is with the Pieces for Solo Cello or Heartwood. The solo pieces are more interesting that I initially thought, but still not necessarily immediately accessible, and Heartwood is just beautiful, with some of his most interesting combinations of harmonic language and orchestral approaches.
  11. William Walton's Symphony No.1. I stumbled across a really exciting live performance by Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra from the 1970 Proms. It's an interesting piece; I found the orchestrations particularly arresting. The only way I can describe the colors is sharp, I think. The wind and brass scoring sounds like something more from the concert band world than an orchestral work, but that's not a bad thing. The main idea of the finale reminded more than a little of Elmer Bernstein's National Geographic fanfare.
  12. I've been listening to John Adams' Harmonium and Harmonielehre a lot lately, the former in a stunning performance from the 2017 Proms, conducted by Edward Gardner. It's music I liked well enough in college and was curious to see if it still held any allure for me. And it definitely still does. Harmonium in particular is a better work than I remembered, but both works have a strong sense of pacing and arrival. Both pieces have such a strong conceptual structure, and they're often ravishingly beautiful. The setting of "Wild Nights" is just stunning.
  13. If the Academy has any sense, Visual Effects is First Man's award to lose. I would also award it the prize for cinematography, and "The Landing" is almost worth a score Oscar on its own in my mind. The way Hurwitz paced that cue is just astonishing, and paired with the visuals its probably my favorite film sequence from 2018.
  14. In any case, it seems like there was just a bit of fuzz on the playing surface. So the disc appears to be fine. Some random observations--This score really is a bit unique in his work; I think it's wrong to call it a horror score, though there are elements that could fairly be called that. I think this might be the best performance he got from the London Symphony in those years; it's near the top, at any rate. The brass and low strings are the standouts for me. The orchestra just sounds huge on the remaster. I wouldn't imagine it was exceptionally large in actuality, but it sounds absolutely massive here and I love it. I'm continually amazed, listening to Williams' scores from 77-83 (or 84, depending on how much mileage you get out of Temple of Doom--I'm not that fond of it), at the amount of clarity and attention to detail in his orchestrations. The monothematic approach is obviously unique when compared to something like the Star Wars trilogy or Superman, but he does so many things with the theme that it doesn't ever get tiresome or boring. I don't know if this makes sense or not, but I think Dracula helps shed some light on how he got from Star Wars to Empire, compositionally speaking. Anyway, those are just some thoughts after playing it through a couple of times. I have no doubt that it will reward repeated hearings. Everyone involved should be pleased with their work here, as it's a pretty spectacular release.
  15. Forgive me for asking a simple question. There's no need to curse.
  16. Has anyone else gotten a disc with any glitches? "Meeting Van Helsing" on disc 1 of my copy has a skip and I wanted to see if it was an issue for anyone else. Great score, though, and a superb release. Unless La La Land has something truly spectacular in the Black Friday offerings this is the Williams release of the year.
  17. Of course, the film structure certainly drives the score. I wonder if your theory on Goldsmith could be redirected to explore why Williams' concert works that seem to have some extramusical association are more formally successful than those that don't. Even though Williams isn't obviously drawing on structure and image for his concert work, it seems to me that drawing inspiration from nature or myth, for instance (such as the bassoon and horn concertos and Heartwood) or personal tragedy in the case of the violin concerto, leads him to create pieces that more solid structurally-speaking than those that don't rely on those external sources of inspiration. But maybe I'm just rambling.
  18. I'm genuinely curious as to whether anyone is truly excited about this movie. I can't think of many books I've hated more than this one and I honestly can't believe Spielberg is directing the adaptation. I wish he had dug up the aborted Robopocalypse adaptation if he felt the need to make an effects-heavy adventure movie. I would have killed to have heard Williams score that one. I think it would have been a hybrid of A.I. and Minority Report with some strains of War of the Worlds, and in my mind it's nothing short of awesome.
  19. I keep hoping Indy 5 turns out to be something that never happens. I only love Raiders out of the lot (and that goes for scores too), and I don't see any of the three sequels to date as essential, though I love the Grail and father/son material from Last Crusade. As far as West Side Story goes, I think it would be interesting if Williams were to do new adaptations of the songs and maybe write some new underscore, but I honestly like the arrangements from the 60s just fine. I don't think it would be West Side Story with new songs. The Bernstein/Sondheim songs are so established and ingrained that trying to replace them would be a fool's errand.
  20. What a bummer that would be. I loved Kraemer's score to Rogue Nation. Really effective interpolation of the Schifrin material with his own writing, orchestrations that were effective in how each section was used and played off of each other (so much clarity, compared to a lot of orchestral scores for big-budget action movies!) and pretty solidly engineered recording too. I think Kraemer would be a solid choice for a Star Wars spin-off if anyone thinks to ask.
  21. I don't know if this question was meant for the peanut gallery, but I'm willing to take a stab at it. In my mind, form has a lot of impact on how interesting and involving a musical work is and can affect how I receive a piece emotionally or intellectually. It can reveal a lot about a composer's ability to manipulate his/her material and get mileage out of it, so to speak, and it can show a great deal about pacing and architecture, and how everything fits together. Form affects everything, from how the piece's building blocks (whether it's melodic material, textural, harmonic, or rhythmic devices, etc.) are established, and then how those building blocks get rearranged, elaborated on, varied, combined, and so on. I actually agree with @TGP that it's hard sometimes to argue with that criticism when it's applied to Williams. A good example to me is the first movement of the cello concerto or the corresponding movement of the viola concerto, where Williams lays out his material fairly quickly, gives the soloist a little room to ruminate on it, but Williams places what other composers might use for a climax comes so quickly that there isn't really anywhere else to go. That's not to disparage the orchestral scoring or the melodic material in either case, and Williams gets into and out of the climactic passage material skillfully, but it feels out of place and as far as I'm concerned the rest of the movement is wheel-spinning punctuated by occasional moments of interest. By contrast, the first movement of The Five Sacred Trees is a formal structure that works much better. It's a really artfully constructed build, from the solo bassoon opening through to the various passages for orchestra without soloist and that feature the soloist weaving in and out of the orchestral textures, and the climax of the movement comes naturally and comes at just the right place--it's related to the material that got worked over throughout the movement, and it still allows for the soloist to have a denoument, in literary terms, before the movement comes to a close. This kind of criticism doesn't necessarily apply to his film work, where there are discrete cues that allow material to come and go as necessary and get developed in a different way over a longer time with shorter sections. If that makes any sense. If any of this makes any sense. I admittedly don't have the vocabulary to discuss music in the way I would like, even though I love it and have opinions about it that I can't always put into words well. As an aside, if his longevity is being discussed, I think the bassoon, horn, and harp concertos stand a chance of lasting. I'm not fond of the cello concerto, and although I like the violin concerto I don't know that will take a huge place in the repertoire when violinists have so much else to choose from. I think it would be the same situation if he chose wrote a piano concerto.
  22. I've actually got to say my vote is split on this one. I am enjoying TLJ a lot more than The Post. But I think The Post should have been nominated for the Oscar (though I say this having only heard the album; not seen the film). It covers a lot of ground in a short time, and I think the more rhythmic, textural material is really interesting. I love those jagged brass figures in "The Presses Roll" a lot, and also that lovely, melancholy tune in the same track that gets carried by the woodwinds. The electronic stuff is really tastefully applied. As much as I like those elements, I kind of wish the whole score had been in the vein of "The Oak Room" and "Two Martini Lunch," in a more reflective, jazz-tinged mode. Plus it's really beautiful piano/combo writing that seems to just scratch the surface of something richer. I think Williams has a kind of dark, forlorn side that he doesn't indulge often, but when he does it's usually very striking. But from my understanding that's not the kind of film Spielberg made. I'm honestly surprised TLJ got him the nomination; I thought it would be a double nomination or just The Post.
  23. It certainly has some moments of interest, at least on first listen. I do think it may work better on its own terms rather than as underscore, though I also suspect it fits the film Spielberg actually made rather than the film I wish Spielberg had made (at least based on my impressions of what The Post is, from the reviews I have seen). I imagine that this and TLJ will both reward repeat listens.
  24. ESB, and it's not exactly a contest. I love the ending of AOTC, though, where he weaves together the love theme, Anakin's theme, and the Imperial March. It's a shame that the middle portion is just the concert arrangement dropped in. I do have a soft spot for the original, especially in the film recording, and I think there's something to be said for the ending that he eventually replaced with the Throne Room music. I also like the sound of the strings playing those initial bars of the end credits rather than trumpets, as it became from ESB forward. It's a nice contrast to the brass renditions of the rebel fanfare and main title theme. But I think ESB has the advantage of more diverse thematic material, and some really well-crafted transitions. The way the brass bring it to a close is one of my favorite musical things about the Star Wars scores. The transitions are the only thing the ROTS end titles have going for them, if you ask me. It's a lackluster performance and recording of the OT material that eats up valuable space on a too-short album. ROTJ has nothing to really distinguish it, nor does TPM. So I guess TFA is tied for second, and it's actually pretty close.
  25. I can't hear anything in this score that suggests a composer who wasn't interested or involved in the project. If you want to infer that, that's your right, but I think it's really unfair to insist that your dissatisfaction with the score should lead to one single assessment of Williams' investment in the work. Frankly I think the issues go beyond substituting temp track for spotting session, if we want to take Rian Johnson literally. As an aside, personally I'm still trying to square that comment with an earlier story where he talked about joking with Williams about replacing the main title as they watched the film. Perhaps he did a temp track and viewed the film with Williams without a temp? If there was just a temp and no discussion until the stage, Williams may have simply concluded that some moments were not as important musically and shifted his attention elsewhere. A lot of the dramatic underscore has its own personality and adds a lot of weight and substance to the story; the material for Luke on the island really enriches that part of the story and gives it a sense of grandeur that it might not have had otherwise. I don't think it's a case of losing interest, necessarily; it may rather be a case of him being sensitive to the fact that some parts of the film needed more attention or a different kind of attention than others. I can't listen to cues like "The Spark" or "The Fathiers," or hear the application of the themes for Luke and the island, and think he doesn't care about this anymore, or didn't care about it this time, at any rate. I just think your explanation is perhaps too facile and too dismissive. But it's really all a moot point, isn't it? No one will ever know for sure what was going through Williams or Johnson's mind. One thing I do think to be true is that Johnson may not have quite known what was really possible in working with Williams--I think the score was well-served by the lack of constant rewrites, but I think a little more collaboration and discussion may have resulted in a more coherent musical narrative (or maybe not, the movie does jump around a lot). Star Wars obviously requires a different musical approach than his first three films, and it's possible Johnson didn't quite know what to do in that regard other than letting Williams alone. I don't think a week is enough time to get the measure of the score, especially with half of the music in the film not appearing on the album. And as someone noted in another thread, a lot of the unreleased music isn't quite as dependent on the existing themes. A week isn't enough time for me, anyway. This score doesn't have the immediacy of TFA, but I do think it will be a grower--or at least it will be for me (and probably some others, I imagine). I certainly can't even begin to think about where it ranks in the series but in terms of sheer energy I think it outpaces TFA and the final two prequels.
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