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John Williams & the Vienna Philharmonic: January 18/19 2020


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1 minute ago, bollemanneke said:

The first thing that needs to happen to make those people pay attention to JW's art is the death of John Williams. For some reason only dead people can become great composers. Then you have to give it another 200 years. Then we'll talk again.

 

What about John Adams? He's a great composer.

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Some fact snippets I gathered from people who talked to people (in the orchestra etc.):   - The Philharmoniker were big fans of Williams as a conductor and specifically pointed out his sensi

In this topic, there has already been some speculation about WP seating on JW concerts and we had a good chat of our own with @Marian Schedenig so I decided to ask my friend who plays double bass in t

57 minutes ago, bollemanneke said:

I don't really think this album will elevate, or would have elevated, film music in the classical world (had it been better). I've heard a lot of ignorant opinions coming from that world about JW and those folks aren't going to change their minds just because the VPO released this album. The first thing that needs to happen to make those people pay attention to JW's art is the death of John Williams. For some reason only dead people can become great composers. Then you have to give it another 200 years. Then we'll talk again.


Oh I totally agree. The concerts were of symbolic significance, surely, but only if you care about it (which I’ll admit, I certainly do!).
 

But I think the vague idea that these concerts elevated the status of film music in a broad sense (how do we define that status, and for who does it apply?) is just the opposite side of the spectrum where that awful Norman Lebrecht review is on.

 

Both seek to re-affirm a personal view that has very little to do with the reality IMO: that everybody had a great time at the Musikverein but the world is still the same as it was before.

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1 hour ago, Remco said:


Oh I totally agree. The concerts were of symbolic significance, surely, but only if you care about it (which I’ll admit, I certainly do!).
 

But I think the vague idea that these concerts elevated the status of film music in a broad sense (how do we define that status, and for who does it apply?) is just the opposite side of the spectrum where that awful Norman Lebrecht review is on.

 

Both seek to re-affirm a personal view that has very little to do with the reality IMO: that everybody had a great time at the Musikverein but the world is still the same as it was before.

 

If anything, the concerts brought to light what a snobbish orchestra the VPO have been, when 2020 was the year they held their first concerts entirely dedicated to film music.

 

2 hours ago, Bespin said:

You think you "enlight" us?

 

Your enlightenment peaked years ago. ;)

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23 minutes ago, Marian Schedenig said:

 

The world is different insofar as the Philharmoniker have played this music in concert, and with enthusiasm, something I wasn't sure about before and that I cannot imagine happening 10 or even 20+ years ago.


That is of course true. But I think that mostly says something about the gap between critics/snobs and the actual musicians who’re playing. Thankfully it’s become much bigger, now with more and more young musicians who also grew up with pop culture and embrace it.

 

That is why I hope that winning over the traditional critics will be irrelevant in another 20 or so years, when they will be gone and musicians and audiences prevail. But for now it still pervades the decision-making in the classical music too much.

 

Btw, for the VPO, is it true that the musicians requested JW’s invitation?

 

Edit: Thinking about what you said again, I guess that the concerts didn’t change the world but are the results of a changed world indeed.

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6 hours ago, JAMOcl said:

I believe that part of a memorable performance is not how perfect it is, as a matter of fact Furtwrangler (who was a Berliner and Wiener champion) was known for conducting not perfect but intense performance. And as someone who hears a lot the WPO (Spotify was keen on reminding it to me) I must say that THIS IS the Wiener Philharmoniker sounds, not perfect, is an orchestra with its own personallity. John made a wonderful job conducting it. I think the magic of live performance is indeed that is live, unpollished. It's foolish to expect a sound like the original recordings or even the Gerhard ones.  

Yeah maybe The Main Title was kinda off and the Imperial March too slow, but come on, not just symbolically this was a great concert.

Now the music of John Williams travels across the universe (or the stars) at the same level of Beethoven, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, etc. the WPO is the sound of music recognized as part of human history, class without doubt and incredible importance to the world of orchestral composing and performance.

I mean the textures in the CE3K Suite is just amazing, War Horse is delicious and even the Imperial March has the strength necessary to represent faithfully the power of dictatorship and malevolance 


YES!

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So an orchestra sounding imperfect is actually a merit? Okay, even though I completely disagree with this train of thought, I will say I would have been totally on board had the perforamnces been energetic and intense. But they aren't. That's what I love about the live recordings of the Film Symphony Orchestra: you can clearly hear not everyone is talented enough, but they love what they're doing and the conductor only seems to want one thing: FASTER. Most of these performances lack fervour. During Far and Away, I can just tell Mutter wanting to give it her all while the VPO insists on slowing her down.

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Flight to Neverland has a rousing start (except for the late horns entry, but ok) but then drags on to the end. That is not about tempo choices (which is an artistic choice, like in the Imperial March), but tempo *stability* to which I hope we’d all agree on is something that is desired from a performance. And no, that’s not rubato.

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58 minutes ago, bollemanneke said:

During Far and Away, I can just tell Mutter wanting to give it her all while the VPO insists on slowing her down.

Totally wrong observation. If you ever listened to any other recording of ASM you will recognise that she tends to rush and is often a bit in front of the orchestra timing wise. It was the same here. Nothing to do with the VPO trying to slow her down.

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I listened to the CD (part of the Blu-Ray combo released last August) for the first time yesterday, and I couldn't find anything wrong with it.

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20 hours ago, blondheim said:

I really wish the Wiener's Excerpts included the When You Wish quote. I'd kill to have that.

What's the story behind that quote? It always seemed like such a random reference to put into the score. I think it sounds great, though.

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7 minutes ago, Biodome said:

What's the story behind that quote? It always seemed like such a random reference to put into the score. I think it sounds great, though.

Roy loves Pinocchio and aliens and playing When You Wish Upon a Star during the climax is a nice way to show how he's feeling.

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7 hours ago, Fabulin said:

Spielberg loved this tune, so Williams included it.

 

It's more than that. According to Spielberg, the song is where it all began. It is given a lot of significance in the film. It is played immediately on a music box the moment we get in the Neary House, right before we see Roy's face, disappointed that whatever he wanted to happen with the trains didn't go the way he thought it would. This mild disappointment nicely sets up his character arc of wanting something more.

 

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Fun fact: That music box instance of WYWUAS was only added late in post production over those shots that were also filmed after the main production, all added in after the original conversation about taking the kids to see Pinnochio was cut from the film.  They put the music box in in order to have Ronnie later calling him Jiminy Cricket have context

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Just now, Jay said:

Fun fact: That music box instance of WYWUAS was only added late in post production over those shots that were also filmed after the main production, all added in after the original conversation about taking the kids to see Pinnochio was cut from the film.  They put the music box in in order to have Ronnie later mentioning Pinnochio make sense

 

That's great. I actually prefer it this way because like that moment I mentioned a few posts above, if you don't have the Pinocchio movie conversation and only her instance of calling him Jiminy Cricket, it comes across as an inside joke between the two of them which actually strengthens Roy's character connection to the Pinocchio concept, in my opinion. With the conversation about the movie, she is just quipping on the conversation at hand which is a very different and less effective scene, I think.

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Alright - now I reveal something from my treasured memories that - to my knowledge - never appeared (at least not in these later, IMHO petty discussions) in this amazingly long-lasting and extensive thread here:

 

When I (and the rest of the world) experienced for the very first time the Star Wars Main Title being conducted by John Williams at the Golden Hall of Musikverein - I heard details in the brass in the first minute I have *never* heard like this before, neither in concert nor on recordings - it's hard to describe, but I was in heaven; and no, it did not, I repeat, did not sound like a mistake at all - on the contrary - to my (conservatory-trained violinist's) ears; and no, it's not on the recordings taken from Sunday.

 

What do you think about that, Marian (or any of you lovely people we met after the concert, Fabulin, Biodome et al)? What do you remember? You seem to be a very acute listener and you were there to be able to compare... ...or were you as emotionally devastated (in a good way! :-D) as I was? (I think I remember you were more concentrated the next day, but the first was quite the emotional one)

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On 1/9/2021 at 1:26 AM, Martinland said:

Alright - now I reveal something from my treasured memories that - to my knowledge - never appeared (at least not in these later, IMHO petty discussions) in this amazingly long-lasting and extensive thread here:

 

When I (and the rest of the world) experienced for the very first time the Star Wars Main Title being conducted by John Williams at the Golden Hall of Musikverein - I heard details in the brass in the first minute I have *never* heard like this before, neither in concert nor on recordings - it's hard to describe, but I was in heaven; and no, it did not, I repeat, did not sound like a mistake at all - on the contrary - to my (conservatory-trained violinist's) ears; and no, it's not on the recordings taken from Sunday.

 

What do you think about that, Marian (or any of you lovely people we met after the concert, Fabulin, Biodome et al)? What do you remember? You seem to be a very acute listener and you were there to be able to compare... ...or were you as emotionally devastated (in a good way! :-D) as I was? (I think I remember you were more concentrated the next day, but the first was quite the emotional one)

I can't recall any details like that. I was just enjoying the concert too much. Did anyone record that part? Maybe it's captured somewhere. I saw that a lot of people filmed the Star Wars performance, during both concerts.

From the first concert, the only details I remember is the solo horn mistake in Jurassic Park theme, and the moment where half of the orchestra fell behind in Adventures on Earth, with John Williams strenuously trying to re-sync all of the sections. I also remember more abstract feelings. For example, I was totally blown away by the Close Encounters suite on the first day. I had listened to all available recordings of it, but what the orchestra did in Vienna that day was in another league entirely.

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On 1/9/2021 at 1:26 AM, Martinland said:

When I (and the rest of the world) experienced for the very first time the Star Wars Main Title being conducted by John Williams at the Golden Hall of Musikverein - I heard details in the brass in the first minute I have *never* heard like this before, neither in concert nor on recordings - it's hard to describe, but I was in heaven; and no, it did not, I repeat, did not sound like a mistake at all - on the contrary - to my (conservatory-trained violinist's) ears; and no, it's not on the recordings taken from Sunday.

 

What do you think about that, Marian (or any of you lovely people we met after the concert, Fabulin, Biodome et al)? What do you remember? You seem to be a very acute listener and you were there to be able to compare... ...or were you as emotionally devastated (in a good way! :-D) as I was? (I think I remember you were more concentrated the next day, but the first was quite the emotional one)

The Saturday performance of the Main Title was the best I've ever heard, and there was not a blemish on it. Certainly not the trumpet delay from Sunday! I wonder if it will ever surface... 

 

I also remember that the upper register details were splendid in the hall.

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On 1/9/2021 at 1:26 AM, Martinland said:

When I (and the rest of the world) experienced for the very first time the Star Wars Main Title being conducted by John Williams at the Golden Hall of Musikverein - I heard details in the brass in the first minute I have *never* heard like this before, neither in concert nor on recordings - it's hard to describe, but I was in heaven; and no, it did not, I repeat, did not sound like a mistake at all - on the contrary - to my (conservatory-trained violinist's) ears; and no, it's not on the recordings taken from Sunday.

 

I don't really remember all that many specific details - it's all a bit of a blur, partly due to the CD/Blu release and mainly due to the pandemic (at this point, the whole of 2020 is a blur, and I have to really think to decide if a specific event happened a few months ago or one year plus a few months ago).

 

From Saturday, I definitely remember the two flubs that Biodome mentioned, and I don't think I noticed any others (though others have, mainly wrong notes, some of which were repeated on Sunday, so possibly incorrect score sheets). I also remember (and frequently wrote so back then) that I thought the overall sound astonishingly transparent (which is not guaranteed in the Golden Hall, even with the Philharmoniker, and especially not with dense works for big orchestra) - I could hear all the bits I knew to be there (and often couldn't hear clearly in other concerts). Perhaps a few details here and there that I was not so familiar with, but probably nothing substantial.

 

But I do know that these things can also depend on your seat, especially if you're close to the orchestra. I once heard Blomstedt conduct Bruckner's 4th from the rightmost seat in the second (or third?) row, and mainly heard every single note of the second violins, and that did include lots of things I'd never consciously noticed, although I'm more familiar with that symphony than with 99% of all other music.

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On 1/10/2021 at 12:45 PM, Biodome said:

For example, I was totally blown away by the Close Encounters suite on the first day. I had listened to all available recordings of it, but what the orchestra did in Vienna that day was in another league entirely.

 

Indeed - and I fondly remember something else:

 

Surprisingly, I was very moved and mesmerised by "Sabrina" as it was played so delicately by Anne-Sophie Mutter, especially towards the end. I remember turning to love of my life whispering "this is wonderful..." It was on Saturday only, because I didn't get the same reaction from the Sunday recording, although the (multi-channel) reproduction - as Marian already mentioned - really replicates the acoustics of the Golden Hall. Something is different with the Sunday recording of that theme; it's played louder, more pronounced if you will, not sure.

 

This was topped only by the lush and sweet "War Horse" and its flute soloist in the "second concert" as I keep calling the second part of the Saturday performance right since the intermission back then. (because of the amazing length of this concert, it truly felt oh-so-lucky-exhaustingly like two concerts!)

 

In a week it's been a year - I just can't wrap my head around that.

It was ... a dream; come true after more than 1.5 years of hoping and in hindsight under the most improbable of circumstances. This experience will always mean 2020 to me; not those other dreadful four fifths of the year.

 

*sigh*

On 1/10/2021 at 1:14 PM, Fabulin said:

The Saturday performance of the Main Title was the best I've ever heard, and there was not a blemish on it. Certainly not the trumpet delay from Sunday! I wonder if it will ever surface...

 

I concur completely, Karol - and *I* wonder, why those professional technicians and musicians at Deutsche Grammophon did not put in the extra work (they had all the time in the world!) to create the perfect blend of both performances; the existing result (not the concerts or the contents) is a bit disappointing - even the video is quite unfilmic: To many tight close-ups, so few different angles, even fewer wide shots (compare to the video of Mutter's open air concert in Munich, for example) - in an age of high resolution and big displays this looks like old-fashioned in-your-face television for small sets with low res, not like a concert recording for a broad canvas; very irritating.

 

Still: We were lucky - and all those millions of people who were able to experience it too because all this took place and was recorded properly. (not put together properly, as I pointed out above)

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8 hours ago, Fabulin said:

Imagine what sort of improvements could be made with an acccess to recording files and advanced tools. Here is just me, audacity, and ctrl + del

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wsZ4d23RbZ-tAdPXJXed8mtKeK2X3W-b/view?usp=sharing

 

Wow, impressive work ironing out the flub at 0:20. Did you just copy and paste the note from the first statement? Any other improvements? 

 

Too bad similar improvements can't be done with the Jaws track...

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On 1/12/2021 at 10:01 AM, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Wow, impressive work ironing out the flub at 0:20. Did you just copy and paste the note from the first statement? Any other improvements? 

 

Too bad similar improvements can't be done with the Jaws track...

I just cut out some miliseconds. Nothing more. No copying, no overlaying, no changes in loudness.

 

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Sorry, I haven't read this insanely popular thread in a long, long time. But I'm just curious if anyone knows anymore about a release date for a BR-only release of this thing? I'm not really interested in the CD.

 

I faintly remember someone saying here or elsewhere that one was forthcoming this year?

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On Amazon US it's actually cheaper to get it with the CD included than without it

 

On Amazon UK you only save £3 by omitting the CD

 

On Amazon Germany you only save €1

 

On Amazon France they list each product under different currencies for some reason

 

On Amazon Italy the version with the CD is cheaper again

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