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NEW Williams release: Cello Concerto by Slatkin & Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Naxos)


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Yes, he did. And further revisions have been made after the De Maine/DSO/Slatkin performance.

John Williams raped my childhood!

This is an excellent performance. I think the orchestral playing is better with Slatkin/DSO but the solo cello is up against tough competition with Yo-yo Ma and I believe the the JW recording is with Boston. In short, buy both! But if you can only get one, JW/Yo Yo Ma can't be beat.

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This is an excellent performance. I think the orchestral playing is better with Slatkin/DSO but the solo cello is up against tough competition with Yo-yo Ma and I believe the the JW recording is with Boston. In short, buy both! But if you can only get one, JW/Yo Yo Ma can't be beat.

The version on Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams is done by the Recording Arts Orchestra of LA, which probably means a lot of studio musicians. I think they are credited as the ensemble who performed the A.I. Artificial Intelligence score as well.

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Ahh, don't know why I thought Boston did that one. I just finished listening to the Horn Concerto and Violin Concerto by Slatkin/DSO. Lot's of polytones in here, Sharky, and the music has Williams' sense of rhythm and melodic cadence. There is a strong melancholy that pervades these serious works but the Cello Concerto has outright angst. The Horn concerto opens with his "Adams" style of the time (like Mega City from A.I.). After listening to these three back to back, I am hungry for more. I love that they will record them all. All these recordings are uniformly excellent. Very beautifully performed and recorded and I hope this brings some attention to JW in the musical purist circles because these are substantial and beautiful works that deserve a wider audience.

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There is a strong melancholy that pervades these serious works but the Cello Concerto has outright angst.

Interesting observation. I always found JW's Cello Concerto a work of contrasting feelings, depicting a wide range of emotions. In this sense it's a close relative to both Britten's Cello Symphony and Walton's Cello Concerto, imho. It seems to come from the same world. The Cello Concerto is indeed less contemplative and ruminative than the Bassoon Concerto or the Horn Concerto.

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There is a strong melancholy that pervades these serious works but the Cello Concerto has outright angst.

Interesting observation. I always found JW's Cello Concerto a work of contrasting feelings, depicting a wide range of emotions. In this sense it's a close relative to both Britten's Cello Symphony and Walton's Cello Concerto, imho. It seems to come from the same world. The Cello Concerto is indeed less contemplative and ruminative than the Bassoon Concerto or the Horn Concerto.

I would say The Violin Concerto is the angstiest of Williams' concertos, such anguish in that one. And as you say the Cello Concerto has a wider emotional range from the bold and vigorous opening of the Theme and Cadenza to the moody edginess of the Blues, the athleticism of the Scherzo and the supreme lyrical tenderness of the Song.

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For me, the 'angstiest' are the concert works where he goes completely nuts with the dissonance, like the flute concerto, the recent piano piece for Lang Lang, the duo concertante etc.

The violin and cello concerti are both molded in a romantic idiom (with modern sensibilites) and as such express more melancholy. The violin concerto, in particular, expresses some of the romance and grief and bittersweetness related to Williams' feelings on his wife's passing.

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Ok, I can't get enough of this stuff. I am currently listening to American Journey. Fantastic! Such a perfect encapsulation of JW's Americana and in my opinion, it out does Copeland. Should this be considered film music or concert music? Also, should one consider a film suite created for concert performance as film music or concert music? Remember many great 20th century composers such as Prokofiev, Vaughan Williams, and Shostakovitch considered their film music on par with their concert music and assigned opus numbers to the associated suites which were anticipated for concert halls like the suites of their ballets and opera and other theatrical works. Does JW get a bad rap because he is so popular as a film composer? The last few days I listened to four substantial concert works of tremendous quality and certainly worthy of concert hall attention.

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American Journey is a sort of hybrid between applied music and concert music, imho. It was written as accompaniment music to picture and words, but it surely can also stand on its own pure musical merits when listened as a concert piece.

As for considering concert arrangements of film music as concert works, I think it truly depends on a variety of factors. Most of Williams' own concert suites derived from his film scores can absolutely be considered as concert works, because 1) he rearranged and rewrote them himself, 2) they usually expand further on ideas that were just brief sketches in the film score (like the Shark Cage Fugue from Jaws or the scherzo in the Jane Eyre suite) and 3) they infuse a new perspective on said works--for example, the Escapades from Catch Me If You Can is really a concertino for alto sax that is already being adopted by soloists around the globe and will likely outlast the memory of the film itself. In this sense, he follows the path traced by composers like Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Walton and the others you mentioned.

Different story is film music lazily adapted, or "simplified", by other arrangers for pops/light classical concert performances. In that case I wouldn't consider it a concert work per se.

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Escapades is an example where Williams didn't do a radical revision of the work as these three movements were nearly in their finished form on the score album. There was slight revision but not too much.

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Escapades is an example where Williams didn't do a radical revision of the work as these three movements were nearly in their finished form on the score album. There was slight revision but not too much.

JW gave this work an original name and also a name for every movement. Personaly, that's why I consider it a "Concert Work", no matter how close it is from the score. Now, a performer in a concert would be unwelcome to play any other piece from the score. It's like John Williams would say : "Hey guys, play this!".

I also consider "Violin Fantasy on Fiddler on the Roof (Cadenza and Variations)" a concert work too, as it seems to be the definitive form of this work, and now that it's been recorded by Matthieu Arama (for violin and piano, 2012) and Itzhak Perlman (for violin and orchestra, on the 2015 Blu-Ray)...

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Escapades is an example where Williams didn't do a radical revision of the work as these three movements were nearly in their finished form on the score album. There was slight revision but not too much.

But just the opening movement appears on that form on the actual score, right. The two others, that indeed had just a few ajustments, weren't used on the actual film, and were already a sort of concert arrangement of the respective thematic material... or so I seem to recall. I haven't watched the film in a long time, and might be wrong.

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Escapades is an example where Williams didn't do a radical revision of the work as these three movements were nearly in their finished form on the score album. There was slight revision but not too much.

JW gave this work an original name and also a name for every movement. Personaly, that's why I consider it a "Concert Work", no matter how close it is from the score. Now, a performer in a concert would be unwelcome to play any other piece from the score. It's like John Williams would say : "Hey guys, play this!".

Oh I am not claiming that Escapades isn't a concert work, I am just saying it had somewhat less revising as far as structure of each movement goes before it went from the concert suite styled versions heard on the OST to the finished work for the concert hall. The opening movement, Closing In, is most like its film counterpart but Williams added several saxophone solo sections to the other two movements to further flesh out its role and as we know the recent performance by LA Phil included an extended (and most likely improv) jazzy double bass solo for Recollections.

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There is a strong melancholy that pervades these serious works but the Cello Concerto has outright angst.

Interesting observation. I always found JW's Cello Concerto a work of contrasting feelings, depicting a wide range of emotions. In this sense it's a close relative to both Britten's Cello Symphony and Walton's Cello Concerto, imho. It seems to come from the same world. The Cello Concerto is indeed less contemplative and ruminative than the Bassoon Concerto or the Horn Concerto.

I would say The Violin Concerto is the angstiest of Williams' concertos, such anguish in that one. And as you say the Cello Concerto has a wider emotional range from the bold and vigorous opening of the Theme and Cadenza to the moody edginess of the Blues, the athleticism of the Scherzo and the supreme lyrical tenderness of the Song.

Doesn't the most updated version of the Cello Concerto remove that opening? Didn't he change it to a more casual ostinato?

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