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Far And Away: the most underrated 90's Williams score?


Sandor
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After The Eiger Sanction and Born On The Fourth Of July, a third in a series of underrated scores by the maestro: Far And Away.

To be honest, it took me some time before I truly appreciated this score. I remember one time someone asked me: "Can you play me the most beautiful piece of film music?"

The-Most-Beautiful-Piece. That's a tough one. I quickly went through my soundtrack collection and I could have chosen something from LOTR (scores which I value highly), something from E.T., Schindler's List, Trois Colours, something Morricone, ...

Impulsivly I chose County Galway, 1892 from the Far And Away soundtrack. I don't know why really. But I played it loud, very loud and it made the hairs on my arms stand up, it send a gigantic chill down my spine and my eyes became incredible watery...

That moment I had never heard music more beautiful than that extraordinary piece. Of course I can never hear it with the same kind of emotion and the moment seemed "just right", but man, what a great, great piece of music.

Far And Away is an incredible score. It has so much diversity to offer. From intimate pieces like the aforementioned County Galway, to playful Irish jigs, from big orchestral pieces like The Land Race to pure Americana.

It's a wonderful, somewhat underappreciated score.

Any thoughts?

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The most underated 90's score would be Seven Years in Tibet, but I agree Far and Away is simply a fantastic score. So many different textures, and yet it is surprising cohesive. One great listen from beginning to the end. And I don't even mind the Enya song.

Great end credits suite too. Should have Fighting For Dough theme in there, though.

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It is a very good, fresh and uplifiting score. Not really sure if it is underrated.

Around here, back in 1992, with was vey well received by film critics -- the guys who mostly do film music reviews in the country...

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To be honest, Roald, I don't think the score is underated at all -- not on this message board, anyway. I think most of us know how great Far and Away the score is. And yeah, I agree with everything you said, and this is also one of my favorites.

I think the movie itself is a bit underappreciated, though. It wasn't a hit when it came out in 1992 (I don't understand why), so it wasn't even nominated for an Oscar. At least the score deserved to be nominated, IMHO.

:)

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You make it sound like 'Far and Away' is some misunderstood piece of art music.

When the score came out, i remember being a bit pissed because it was 'Poppa Williams epic hour' like we've heard it too many times before...

The irish element ('Fighting for Dough' etc.) was inspired, but unfortunately never seemed to gel with the broad 'Star Wars' tutti style Williams employed especially in the american half of the story. When the finale reached it's 'Throne Room'/'Raider's March'-like coda, it was glaringly obvious that Williams gleefully obliged to the value-conservative wishes of 'Opie' Howard. I'm rather glad this partnership was of short duration.

Grade B minus...

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I remember being quite pleased with this score. The Land Race cue is my favorite along with the End Credits suite

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I managed to find this score on the auction 2 months ago and I immediately bought it. It is one of my favourite JW's scores (maybe not in the top 3, but among the other several top-notch JW's scores). Fantastic from the beginning to the end.

"Angela's Ashes" is quite overrated, I think. It is without doubt a good score, but never really worked for me like the previous.

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Angela's Ashes? Overrated? Surely you must be joking. It rarely ever is discussed on this Board, which is beyond me, since it is one of Williams' most challenging and complex scores of any decade. There is a wealth thematic development, amazing orchestration, subtle underscore, and one of Williams' finest pieces of all time, "Angela's Prayer." It's a shame more fans don't appreciate its beauty more.

Ted

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It's one of my all time favorites and extremely dear score to Miguel Andrade.

You can just listen to whole thing throigh and you don't even notice the tracks. It feels like a big coherent suite. No theme goes under or overdeveloped. it's just pitch perfect.

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Far and Away is terrific score with a nice blend of Irish and Americana elements. The track County Galway, June 1892 made an instant impact when I first heard it on a Williams compilation and I wanted to hear more. The score turned out to be a varied and very entertaining throughout the whole running time. I like this score very much for the spirited Irish music and the heroic fanfares and emotional music and on the other hand for the delicate more quiet material. And it has the Bmmmmtzzzz moments as well :)

Angela's Ashes is a special score. I can't even explain it but somehow this score has such a powerful effect on me. Truly one of the Williams masterpieces for me.

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I think "Sleepers" would be the most underrated one on this board, which is fairly one of the best scores of the 90's.

You may be right there. It gets discussed less than Nixon and Rosewood. In fact, I'd say this would be one of the few candidates in the "Forgotten Scores" collection on this Board. I'll be the first to admit that Sleepers is a score to which I don't give enough attention. I guess you could say I underrate it. And although I skip over it very much when looking for CDs to listen to, when I am in the right mindset for it, I can really connect with it. It's a very dark and brooding music; very against the grain from his regular stuff. I love some of the electronic stuff and the choral church-sounding passages. Overall, I think it's a very good score; quiet, dark, and compelling.

Ted

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Far And Away is underrated in the sense that it wasn't nominated for any major award and hardly ever gets cited as being "one of John Williams finest scores".

Sleepers however was nominated for an Academy Award and although it's a fine score, I can't really say I enjoy it that much.

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As far as I'm concerned, Angela's Ashes is only second the Williams own E.T.

For me they rank among the best film music ever -- please note, this isn't a critical coment, rather one that reflects only my own taste.

Still, at any rate, Angela's Ashes is such a subtle, delicated piece of music, that fully reflects not only what is going on-screen, but the full sense of despair, with a glance of mahalerian hope, all dressed up in a mix of Williams (John) over Williams (Ralph Vaughn), that pervades McCourt literary masterpiece.

If you never read it, please pick the book, and listen to it, as you fall in love with the words. And you feel Johnny Williams sensitive music coming out of them.

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Well, I didn't think I could say anything new about Far and Away, so here's what I've said in the past!

It's a 10. Definitely in my top few favorite scores. I was blown away the first time I listened to it after having purchased it. Although there are a few dull moments here and there, I find that the score's plethora of strengths vastly outweigh them. The themes are among Williams' best - the infectious jig music, the mystical Irish theme, the triumphant "Westward Ho!" theme (as Frank Lehman referred to it), and the amazing main theme. It can range from tender and romantic to sweeping and epic, and it's my favorite of Williams love themes. The thrilling "The Land Race" is the set piece of the score, and it all culminates in the wonderful end credits suite. It's one of the last times Williams wrote new arrangements for an end credits piece, and they're infused with such joyous energy and spirit (those horn rips!) It just never fails to put a smile on my face, and I feel it's Williams' best effort of the 90s.

Ray Barnsbury - who still feels the same way

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I'm not sure about underrated, as most seem to love it. The themes are absolutely amazing, and if there ever was a score to remind me why I think Williams is the best, this is it. It isnt mentioned much however, despite being in my opinion easily among Williams top 5, ever. And yes, as far as the film is concerned, the Land Race can stand proudly alongside ET and CEO3K's finales in the marriage of music and visuals stakes. :)

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Angela's Ashes? Overrated? Surely you must be joking.  

Ted

Well. I am not. I still think that this is a really good score, but I expected something better after having heard so many enthusiastic opinions. Unfortunatelly, it didn't grow on me like many other JW's scores (I don't say it won't in future). Maybe I am still grieving over that it beat "The Phantom Menace" in '99 nominations.

"Angela's Prayer" is trully splendid indeed.

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If you never read it, please pick the book, and listen to it, as you fall in love with the words. And you feel Johnny Williams sensitive music coming out of them

While the score is splendid in itself, with all it's heavyness it tends to drown the children's aspect of the story. McCourt's style is rather laconic while Williams writes for a full-blown drama like the world's going to end VERY soon.

Was 'Angela's Prayer' even in the film?

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I have noticed that the music in the film is very different from what is on the album in Angela's Ashes. In the film the music is thoughtful and delicate and never overblown. On the album Williams has compiled a beautiful listening experience and it contains some passages that were not used in the end in the film and some of those cues are quite dramatic and big. Angela's Prayer sounds like a concert version of the theme as it does not appear in the film, not in its entirety at least. So the album works on its own as a listning experience and the score works very well in the film without being too dramatic or overbearing at any point.

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Just try to watch the Williams concert with Yo Yo Ma, playing several suites from Angela's Ashes, whith McCourt's live narration. There is nothing overblown about it, it is simply sublime.

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I wish I had such a chance. I bet hearing Williams live playing Angela's Ashes is sublime :)

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Just try to watch the Williams concert with Yo Yo Ma, playing several suites from Angela's Ashes, whith McCourt's live narration. There is nothing overblown about it, it is simply sublime.

Sublime is in fact the right word.

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Far And Away is underrated in the sense that it wasn't nominated for any major award and hardly ever gets cited as being "one of John Williams finest scores".

Because it isn't. However, it has some great moments. I love End Credits!

Angela's Ashes? Overrated? Surely you must be joking. It rarely ever is discussed on this Board, which is beyond me, since it is one of Williams' most challenging and complex scores of any decade. There is a wealth thematic development, amazing orchestration, subtle underscore, and one of Williams' finest pieces of all time, "Angela's Prayer." It's a shame more fans don't appreciate its beauty more.

This might be indeed the most underrated score from that era. JFK would be close second, I think.

Both scores (Anglela's Ashes and Far and Away) are from irish-themed films.

Karol

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I think "Sleepers" would be the most underrated one on this board, which is fairly one of the best scores of the 90's.

I totally agree. SLeepers is not the most accessible Williams score because of its predominant use of consecutive 4ths in its main theme- it took me a while to get into it myself. But now I love it. Things like JFK, NIXON and Lost World rarely get rotation in my iPod but Sleepers does- as well as Angela's Ashes (which I think is Williams' finest achievement from the '90s).

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Far and Away is a very good score, but I don't think that it is John's most underrated of the 90's (which is, ironically, John's most underrated decade). I think that Amistad is the most underrated, but I'm still debating.

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John has done so many fantastic scores, but only a few are widely known and appreciated. [Almost] Every time I get to listen to 'an unknown' JW's score I am amazed how excellent they are given that people do not cherish it, not even discuss it. It is ironic that some "worse" ones (but still very good) are held in higher esteem.

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I agree with Stefancos that the quiet parts aren't great.It lacks a good love theme.I like this score,but yet I have not made the effort to make an expanded chronological set using the Vol 2 bootleg tracks.

K.M.

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That's what I was going to say...I've always thought of it as the Main/Love Theme, kind of one and the same, which makes sense since it's a love story.

Ray Barnsbury

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