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QuartalHarmony

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  1. Thanks
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Tom Guernsey in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    Imperial March! 😆
     
    I’m enjoying your detailed reviews. Guess I tend to take the concert works in the context of the album I’m listening to whether it’s the original recording (which are often hard to improve upon) or a compilation. I have a special place for the Kojian album as that was probably my first Star Wars cd and it holds up very well today I think (their Korngold recordings are top notch too even if they have been superseded by longer recordings). The Skywalker Symphony sounds pretty great but I always felt it was a bit ponderous at times. The weird gap before the final chord of the main theme (rather than the sustained snare roll) is a strange anomaly. Bit like that subito piano that Jerry did in the end titles for Star Trek: Insurrection and on a couple of concert performances. 
  2. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from crlbrg in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    In the interests of rigour, and on the assumption that anyone cares about my opinion, I’m going to listen to as many recordings of each as I can face and give some thoughts on each.
     
    I’ll go roughly chronologically, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the best Main Title is the 1996 LSO/Williams one, so that’s that out of the way, bringing us to:
     
    Princess Leia’s Theme
    OST, LSO/Williams: Pretty good, considering they would have been almost sight-reading. There’s a wrong note in the flute at 2:16 (forgivable in the circumstances!) and the final violin solo is very good.
     
    NPO/Gerhardt: Feels slightly quicker at first, but more rubato means this runs more than half a minute slower than the OST.
     
    LAPO/Mehta: Similar tempo and running time to OST. Horn is quite strident over the melody (e.g. 2:27-2:44) which I don’t like. Timps unfortunately come in a fraction too early at 3:06 which ruins the big statement of the theme. The big crash at 3:43 is spot on, though. Final violin solo is excellent.

    Boston Pops/Williams: very nice - horns complement the melody without overpowering. Final violin doesn’t rall until the last moment, which is a bit too sudden, but that’s my only criticism.

    Utah SO/Kojian: rock-solid tempo with less rubato than the 1970s recordings, so that’s a plus for me. Violin solo at the end is perhaps a bit too self-indulgent and heavy on the vibrato.
     
    Skywalker SO/Williams: Lovely opening, but then the first horn solo isn’t dolce enough for me. At 2:29, why are the vibes going all Lionel Hampton when the score just has straight chords notated? From 2:36, the upper strings have an edge that needs softening. At 3:42-44 it sounds like there’s a rusty gear  grinding on every beat. Final violin solo is fine until the last note, which is a shame.
     
    My verdict:
    No-one’s perfect, but for me the honours are split between Utah and Boston.
     
    Next up, it’s the Jawas…
    The Little People (Work)
     
    OST, LSO/Williams: Nice sprightly tempo which seems right, though that’s probably just because it’s what we’ve heard in the actual film for decades! Identical to concert version as far as it goes, the latter having about a minute’s recapitulation of the cor anglais theme at the end.
     
    LAPO/Mehta: Faster tempo than OST. Marimba accents starting at 0:42 are way more prominent. Someone makes a noise at 0:48 to distract from the start of the theme, which is a shame. I was really enjoying this, until the tuba came in at 2:13 sounding like a rutting stag with diphtheria. 3:09 onwards is wonderfully mysterious - just right. Someone then smacks the tamtam a bit too hard at 3:38 and has to quickly damp it.
     
    Skywalker SO/Williams: Noticeably slower than OST. Apart from that, this is pretty good which is just as well, since this and Mehta seem to be the only available recordings of the concert suite! Tuba solo is just right here.
     
    My verdict:
    Skywalker, once you accept the slightly leisurely tempo.
     
    As an aside, I’d forgotten how fun the concert version is - real shame it hasn’t proved as popular. The way the coda reverses the opening is very clever, and the final few bars make me smile.
  3. Like
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Score in Do you prefer for LLL's Jurassic Park and Harry Potter Soundtrack Collections to be limited or not?   
    He exists. He wears turtlenecks and goes by the name of John. And he wrote Yub Nub. 
     
     
  4. Thanks
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Jay in Do you prefer for LLL's Jurassic Park and Harry Potter Soundtrack Collections to be limited or not?   
    This is not correct.  The specialty labels are all run by fans of film music, and would love to make all their albums (albums they have to fund entirely themselves) available to everyone who wants them.  They'd love to be able to sell them on digital markets, and they'd love to be able to keep the CDs in print either forever or until interest runs out.  But sadly, they are denied these options by the corporations that own the music, as well as the American Federation of Musicians.
     
    To make these releases happen, they get a license from the corporation that owns the rights to sell music from the score (in the JP set's case, UMG, the entity that owns what was once MCA Records) and the corporation that owns all the music that wasn't on the OST albums (in JP's case, Universal Pictures).  Each of these entities only give licenses for physical units to sell - they don't grant licenses for them to sell their albums digitally.  So that's why they are CD (and sometimes vinyl) only.
     
    As for the number of copies, the AFM requires a massive payment to release for sale any music from these scores that wasn't released before (which the specialty label has to pay).  And even making that that payment, the AFM still only grants them to release a certain amount of copies - they don't allow them to just print and sell as many copies as they want.  So that is why all these releases are limited.  If the AFM did not have this stipulation, there'd be no more specialty label sellouts - the specialty labels would continue to keep any title in print that there was clear interest that people still wanted to buy.
     
     
    I'd love for you to go out and find examples of someone who is not a die-hard John Williams fan who bought a specialty label release because it was limited, and not because they just wanted to own that music.  I'll wait.
     
     
    I think that the non-die-hard JW fan would buy these titles if they somehow found out about them and wanted to listen to that music, and not buy them if they didn't care that much.
     
    These days, the shipping costs, and general interest among people on earth who want to own music on physical media instead of digitally, is what keeps people from buying music on CDs.  These specialty labels are primarily making these releases happen for us, not for casual fans.  Casual fans of film music just stream what they want to hear.
     
     
    I strongly disagree.  I think if LLL had their way, this set would still be in print right now available to anyone who wanted it, and they would have easily sold more than 5,000 copies by now.  
  5. Like
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Smaug The Iron in Do you prefer for LLL's Jurassic Park and Harry Potter Soundtrack Collections to be limited or not?   
    They should never be limited. If you are a new John Williams fan you should have the right to have the complete score of your favorite scores in a legal way. 
    I never hade the opportunity to buy the Jurassic Park Collection so I had to downloade it illegaly instead. If it was unlimited I would be happy to buy it because I would own the set legaly and I would support La La Land Records. 
  6. Love
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from aj_vader in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    You were discussing it! Soundstream is the recording system used for the Utah/Kojian recording. It was the first commercial digital recording system and was astonishingly good quality. From the liner notes:


    It is excellent, no doubt, but sadly not perfect: the violin soloist can’t hold the (difficult!) final note of Leia’s theme, and someone really should have quietly unplugged the synth rig from the mixing desk at several points during Cantina Band. Kudos to them, though, for at least having a bash at the source music for once.
     
    I’m still amazed, though, at how rarely-recorded Han & the Princess is. Do you think JW didn’t like it?
     
    Mark
  7. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Smeltington in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    Primarily the principal flute player in the middle section, I would say, who clearly cannot be expected to flutter-tongue that fast and simply cannot keep up. Kojian should have known better. Luke & Leia is also catatonically slow on that recording, for no readily explainable reason. The Soundstream recording, however, is wonderful - clear, realistic and with cracking bass.
     
    In general, I would agree that mostly it’s a toss-up between the 1990 Skywalker recording and the various 1980s Boston discs.
     
    I can’t share the love for the VPO Imperial March, I’m afraid - too slow, and the rall at the end is just… wrong. A shame, because other aspects of it are excellent.
     
    Mark
  8. Like
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Jay in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    Soundstream is a defunct digital recording format.  You'll see the Soundstream logo on most of the old Philips JW / Boston Pops albums, and Neil Bulk uses it as his avatar on the FSM forum.  Here's some more info
     
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundstream
  9. Like
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Bespin in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    He never liked it, that's why he wrote another arrangement for it in 2018!
     
    I kind of liked the simple and repetitive form of the original version, the newer is more elaborated, but doesn't the have the same emotional impact than the original, according to me.
     
    The new arrangement of "Han Solo and the Princess" has been recorded in 2019 by the The Slovak National Symphony Orchestra.
     

  10. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from aj_vader in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    Primarily the principal flute player in the middle section, I would say, who clearly cannot be expected to flutter-tongue that fast and simply cannot keep up. Kojian should have known better. Luke & Leia is also catatonically slow on that recording, for no readily explainable reason. The Soundstream recording, however, is wonderful - clear, realistic and with cracking bass.
     
    In general, I would agree that mostly it’s a toss-up between the 1990 Skywalker recording and the various 1980s Boston discs.
     
    I can’t share the love for the VPO Imperial March, I’m afraid - too slow, and the rall at the end is just… wrong. A shame, because other aspects of it are excellent.
     
    Mark
  11. Haha
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Brando in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    Careful what you wish for, @Manakin Skywalker! Questions like that rarely have short or simple answers…
  12. Haha
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Tom in What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?   
    The ones Williams will do with the LSO for a definitive 3-cd set.  I am trying to have my people talk to his people to make this happen, but, as it turns out, I don't have any people.  
  13. Haha
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Jay in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    Careful what you wish for, @Manakin Skywalker! Questions like that rarely have short or simple answers…
  14. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Amer in John Williams & Boston Pops Orchestra - Complete Philips Recordings (NEW 2022 21-CD boxset)   
    Compression - used tastefully and sensibly - is a great tool in numerous situations. My post was specifically aimed at the use of compression on already-excellent orchestral recordings. Of course, if you’re listening in the car or on a train/plane you need quite a lot of compression to stop the quieter passages being lost in the background noise but, at the risk of repeating myself, adding compression is a one-way street: easy to add if you want it but impossible to remove once it’s there.
     
    Adding a touch of judicious compression to older recordings which might be a little less than state-of-the-art (i.e. what MM does) is a different kettle of fish entirely - it can be a good way of masking annoying tape hiss, for example.
     
    Mark
  15. Haha
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Manakin Skywalker in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    Careful what you wish for, @Manakin Skywalker! Questions like that rarely have short or simple answers…
  16. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Bespin in John Williams & Boston Pops Orchestra - Complete Philips Recordings (NEW 2022 21-CD boxset)   
    Compression - used tastefully and sensibly - is a great tool in numerous situations. My post was specifically aimed at the use of compression on already-excellent orchestral recordings. Of course, if you’re listening in the car or on a train/plane you need quite a lot of compression to stop the quieter passages being lost in the background noise but, at the risk of repeating myself, adding compression is a one-way street: easy to add if you want it but impossible to remove once it’s there.
     
    Adding a touch of judicious compression to older recordings which might be a little less than state-of-the-art (i.e. what MM does) is a different kettle of fish entirely - it can be a good way of masking annoying tape hiss, for example.
     
    Mark
  17. Like
    QuartalHarmony reacted to MrJosh in THE EIGER SANCTION (1975) - 2021 2-CD Expanded Edition from Intrada Records   
    You just need to tell them you're very Eiger for a replacement disc. 
  18. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Holko in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    I don’t think JW has ever gone in the record with an honest opinion of a film, though I’m happy to be proved wrong.
     
    I would say this is because he’s so old-school that he would consider it unprofessional and downright vulgar in the extreme to voice an opinion on a piece of work that he was paid to contribute to. When you think about it like that, who would like to say he’s wrong and should instead stick the boot into all the second-rate films he’s had to hold his nose and write music for over the years?
     
    Mark
  19. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Edmilson in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    I don’t think JW has ever gone in the record with an honest opinion of a film, though I’m happy to be proved wrong.
     
    I would say this is because he’s so old-school that he would consider it unprofessional and downright vulgar in the extreme to voice an opinion on a piece of work that he was paid to contribute to. When you think about it like that, who would like to say he’s wrong and should instead stick the boot into all the second-rate films he’s had to hold his nose and write music for over the years?
     
    Mark
  20. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Brando in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    I don’t think JW has ever gone in the record with an honest opinion of a film, though I’m happy to be proved wrong.
     
    I would say this is because he’s so old-school that he would consider it unprofessional and downright vulgar in the extreme to voice an opinion on a piece of work that he was paid to contribute to. When you think about it like that, who would like to say he’s wrong and should instead stick the boot into all the second-rate films he’s had to hold his nose and write music for over the years?
     
    Mark
  21. Haha
    QuartalHarmony reacted to A24 in Anybody else loves aspect ratios?   
    What aspect of aspect ratios do you like?
  22. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Mattris in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    I openly admit I’m grasping at straws here, but note that (ever the tight-lipped diplomat), he doesn’t say he hasn’t been working on one, just that one is unlikely to be released this year.
     
    I know how desperate this makes me sound, but I’m among my people here, right? You feel me.
     
    [mopes quietly in dark room]
     
    Mark
  23. Thanks
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from Jurassic Shark in John Williams & Boston Pops Orchestra - Complete Philips Recordings (NEW 2022 21-CD boxset)   
    Many (if not most, if not all) digital recordings done by Philips in the 1980s were some of the very best available in terms of sound quality, rivalling Telarc and far outstripping, say, DG, who really went through a funny patch back then. I’ve not got a single Philips Digital Classics CD from back then that doesn’t sound tip-top on my fairly high-end rig. Considering some of the electronics that will have been used (DACs in the 80s were mostly fairly primitive compared to today), this is “impressive… most impressive”.
     
    If you want to add a crap-ton of compression to your rips, then please go ahead - what you do in the privacy of your own copy of Audacity is no business of mine - but please don’t whine about it on a public forum where the grown-ups might hear you and think that’s what everyone wants on the master release. You can add compression to an uncompressed recording if that’s how you get your kicks, but I can’t remove it if I want to hear what JW actually heard in Symphony Hall back in the day. Which I do.
     
    In sound quality terms, these excellent recordings need a modern-style (i.e. compressed to sound OK on FM radio or a free pair of earbuds) remastering like we need another Universal fire.
     
    Mark
  24. Haha
    QuartalHarmony reacted to Jay in John Williams & Boston Pops Orchestra - Complete Philips Recordings (NEW 2022 21-CD boxset)   
    I just KNEW as soon I bought the original pressings of this entire series off Amazon and started listening to them, something like this would happen!
  25. Like
    QuartalHarmony got a reaction from blondheim in Hook - 30th Anniversary Double Vinyl from Mondo Records 2021   
    That’s the spirit, @Marian Schedenig! They may take our source music, they may let our master tapes burn and try to cover it up, but they will never take our blind faith and optimism.
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