Jump to content

John Williams albums by Philips Records (Boston Pops)


Jay
 Share

Recommended Posts

Peter and the Wolf / Nutcracker Suite (1984)

 

Peter and The Wolf (Prokofiev) - I honestly don't think I had ever heard this before.  What fun!  I love how well it tells you the name of the featured instruments with a nice introduction so you can identify their sound.  So smart!  The story and all the music that accompanies it is very fun.  Dudley Moore's narration was great!

 

Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky) - I liked this a lot too!  I already knew March, Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, Russian Dance, Dance of the Reed-Pipes and Waltz of the Flowers of course (who doesn't?), but I also enjoyed Miniature Overture, Arabian Dance, and Chinese Dance too.  What fun!  It's so easy to hear the influence all the music in this suite has had on so much film music in the 130 years since (though it was interesting to learn in the booklet that it didn't actually get performed outside Russia until an English performance in London in 1934 and the American premiere was 1940 in New York, so I guess nobody from the silent era or early talkies was influenced by it).

 

Anyways, count this entire album as the first album of classical music I have every truly liked, from front to back before.  This is all really good stuff!

 

The front cover is a really fun drawing of a wolf (with Dudley Moore's featues) holding a french horn, really cool.  No arrangers are listed so I guess it's all the original arrangements.


Really good album!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Jay said:

The front cover is a really fun drawing of a wolf (with Dudley Moore's featues) holding a french horn, really cool.

 

Time for a re-release with a new cover:

 

ezgif.com-gif-maker_(1).gif

 

4 minutes ago, Jay said:

No arrangers are listed so I guess it's all the original arrangements.

 

They should be. It would be odd to perform rearrangements for no reason. Especially for Peter, which is so dependent on its orchestrations. On the other hand, when Karajan recorded Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition in the standard orchestral version created by Ravel (the original is for piano solo, but the Ravel version is the one everybody knows), he apparently augmented some of the orchestral effects (was it anvils? additional bells? I don't recall), but nothing about it is listed in the credits (at least of the version I have).

 

Incidentally, I don't think I've heard Peter since childhood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh man I love that gif, but especially the version where he gives up

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, Jay said:

Oh man I love that gif, but especially the version where he gives up

 

Yes, but I've been using that one all the time, so I had to mix things up a bit. ;) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's something funny.  I've been too lazy to take my own pics, but this it the cover of the version I have

 

Sergei Prokofiev, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, John Williams, Boston Pops  Orchestra, Dudley Moore - Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67 /  Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a - Amazon.com Music

 

The back cover is the same basic back cover as all the CDs I have

 

Peter and the Wolf - Dudley Moore

 

 

But it looks like the vinyl version had this cool back cover art?

 

Peter and the Wolf - Dudley Moore

 

 

Also, it looks like this alternate front cover exists?

 

Peter and the Wolf - Dudley Moore

 

 

Or was that the original vinyl cover, and they just simplified things for the CD version?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Jay said:

Peter and The Wolf (Prokofiev) - I honestly don't think I had ever heard this before.  What fun!  I love how well it tells you the name of the featured instruments with a nice introduction so you can identify their sound.  So smart!  The story and all the music that accompanies it is very fun.  Dudley Moore's narration was great!

A live performance of it was the first orchestral concert I've been to! Possibly before I started recognising themes and their development in film music. It might even have helped!

 

1 hour ago, Jay said:

Anyways, count this entire album as the first album of classical music I have every truly liked, from front to back before.  This is all really good stuff!

GIF by memecandy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I'm sure what made this classical music so interesting to me was that it had a strong narrative flow, like (good) film scores.  A lot of the stuff that hasn't done it for me always ends up feeling somewhat meandering I guess

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's still a lot of places to start just with that. Pictures at an Exhibition was already brought up, Beethoven 9/4 is all about the development of its well known theme, 1812 Overture is like a mini score with motifs growing and ultimately clashing... and then eventually you may warm up to other aspects too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks!  And you should!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not generally a huge fan of orchestral arrangements of swing tunes, therefore my personal favorites from this album are the more drippy romantic tunes, like Eric Coates' "Sleepy Lagoon" and Claude Thornhill's "Snowfall."  Thornhill was of course one of Williams' early musical "heroes" of sorts in the 40s, and I think Richard Hayman's arrangement here is very nice, but I prefer an earlier arrangement by Angela Morley.  It's interesting that the Pops didn't record that one since Morley frequently worked with JW and the Pops in the 80s.  Maybe the Hayman arrangement was just already in the BPO library.  Morley's can be heard here:

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I'm not generally a huge fan of orchestral arrangements of swing tunes

 

Me too, that's why I never bought JW's swing albums.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Me too, that's why I never bought JW's swing albums.

 

They usually try to translate that distinctive saxophone "choir" sound in swing bands to the string section and it just never comes off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Bespin said:

Hey, that's not the Boston Snobs Orchestra!

 

JW knew how to please the old ladies drinking their lemonades in the audience.  Just give 'em Glenn Miller!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

 

They usually try to translate that distinctive saxophone "choir" sound in swing bands to the string section and it just never comes off.

 

Not to mention that often the drum part is simplified and/or way too tamely pulled off, the swing is stiff, and there's a lack of tightness in the orchestra. In other words, it's been domesticated and made harmless.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All I'm saying is that when Jay listens to "America, The Dream Goes On" next he better not have any negative things to say about the two Copland pieces or I'm gonna have to bring the hammer down.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

All I'm saying is that when Jay listens to "America, The Dream Goes On" next he better not have any negative things to say about the two Copland pieces or I'm gonna have to bring the hammer down.

 

Surely they can't be as great as America, the Dream Goes On? ;) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I barely remember it. I do remember thinking that the music is nice, but the singing is cringingly saccharine, even without the lyrics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John Williams - Boston Pops – America, The Dream Goes On (CD) - Discogs

 

America, The Dream Goes On (1985)

 

This album was a mixed bag for me.  Some tracks were wonderful and enjoyable, others really rubbed me the wrong way.  I also didn't find the overall album had a good flow to it, it felt more like a scatterbrained collection of pieces.

 

The liner notes even talk about the pieces in a different order than they appear on the disc, so I wonder if things got mixed around at the last minute.

 

My favorite tracks were easily the purely instrumental ones

 

Fanfare for the Common Man (Aaron Copland) - This wasn't the piece I thought it was, I don't think I'd ever actually heard it before.  After 3 listens, it didn't make any lasting impression on me however.  It's a bit on the boring side.

 

Hoe-Down from Rodeo (Aaron Copland) - Just a classic piece of music; I'm sure I first heard it through all those 90s beef commercials but it's been used or referenced all over the place, like I believe 3 Horner scores?  This is a fun performance of it!

 

American Salute (Morton Gould) - A different, less gnarly and more peppy version of the "Johnny Comes Marching Home" melody than I'm used to from Kamen's Die Hard 3 variations that would come a decade later (or Goldsmith's Small Soldiers variations 3 years after that).  Really fun!

 

America Medley {New York, New York from On The Town / Lonely Town from On The Town / America from West Side Story} (Leonard Bernstein) - I didn't recognize the first two songs at all, but the America part was instantly recognizable and this is a fun performance of it!

 

When The Saints Go Marching In (Traditional) - OK admittedly this song is kinda goofy (I always think of Homer Simpson singing it more than anything else)

 

Most of the ones with vocals by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus suffered from the same issue I had with the Christmas album, and that is their really overbearing forceful singing style.  It just didn't work for a lot of these tunes

 

America, The Dream Goes On (John Williams & Alan Bergman & Marilyn Bergman) - The Tanglewood Festival Chorus is the least overbearing here, which is nice, and I like the sound of James Ingram's voice.  The lyrics are not very interesting, but the music is pretty good.  I'd love to hear a vocal-free version.

 

Battle Hymm of the Republic (William Steffe & Julia Ward Howe) - This gave me flashbacks to having to sign this song in elementary school chorus or something.  I found this to be a very slow, elongated for no reason version of this tune.  I didn't enjoy the sound of the vocals either.

 

This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie & Stuart Philips) - The humming part in the beginning sounded pretty good, but then the real singing kicked in and I really got turned off quick


America The Beautiful (Samuel Ward & Katharine Bates) - The noble horns in the beginning were incredible, I loved it!  The singing started quietly, which gave me hope.... but it grew to eventually be overbearing.  Still, probably the best of the vocal tracks though.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Traditional) - A curious album closer, its warm cozy sound evoked Christmas time music more than anything else.  This didn't do much for me.  Then for the final minute that overbearing chorus returns to completely ruin it for me.

 

 

I can't decide if the cover art is pretty neat or kinda lazy, but the liner notes were a completely disappointment after the wonderful ones in Swing, Swing, Swing.

 

I don't know what else to say.... nowhere near the top of the series for me I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Boston Pops - Bernstein By Boston -  Amazon.com Music

 

Bernstein by Boston (1986)

 

I'm sorry to report that this album did absolutely nothing for me :( I know Bernstein has a ton of fans here but I really tried to get into this album, listening attentively twice, and this music just isn't for me.

 

The opening West Side Story medley was OK, though a bit odd since we just got "America" on the previous album (America, The Dream Goes On), and it appears here again.  That song has easily the melody I enjoy most from any Bernstein tune I've heard...

 

Likewise, there's a suite of selections from On The Town, even though we just got two selections from that on the previous album too.  

 

This album also includes Overture: Candide, the same recording that appeared on Pops Around the World, which is kind of strange.  Couldn't they have found one more original Bernstein piece to include instead?

 

The rest of the music just didn't do it for me.  A lot of noodling and bombast that never seemed to go anywhere.

 

Sorry!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Didn't like it on Pops Around The World, didn't like it here.  Sorry!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not a fan of Bernstein the composer... Never really got hooked by this album... One day, maybe...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I own Bernstein By Boston and the only piece I like from it is the Candide Overture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simpsons did it better :)

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tomaso Albinoni, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Faure, Johann Pachelbel, Maurice  Ravel, Camille Saint-Saens, Erik Satie, Boston Pops - Pops in Love -  Amazon.com Music

 

Pops In Love (1987)

 

This was a nice album.  The entire album has a nice, pleasant sound to it that really leaves you in a good mood.

 

The three standout tracks for me were the pieces I already knew beforehand:

 

Claire de lune by Claude Debussy - Loved this ever since Ocean's 11.  Sounds great here

 

Canon by Johann Pachelbel - A staple of weddings everywhere.  It's nice!

 

Fantasia on Greenesleeves by Ralph Vaughan Williams - It's good!

 

The rest of tracks I have no specific commentary on, and none of them made me perk up and take notice necessarily, but I just generally enjoyed the whole album and the mood it created.  It's very pleasant!

 

The cover art is nice, though a big surprising they went with white lines on a black background instead of the other way around.  The liner notes are by Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, for the first time in the series I believe, and nicely cover the basics of each piece.

 

So, I guess this is my second favorite album in the series that isn't one of the ones focused on film music, after Swing Swing Swing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jay, that's pretty much my opinion of the album too.  Though I do also really like the Pavane album opener and Le Cygne (The Swan), very nice pieces of music that I discovered through this album.  I remember in my early days of film score CD buying when I was discovering these BPO albums I was kinda bothered that Williams didn't include one of his own love themes on this album.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, MrScratch said:

I was kinda bothered that Williams didn't include one of his own love themes on this album.

 

Oh hey that's a good point, that might have been interesting.

 

It's interesting to go through the series in order like this, and see that the earliest ones always included Williams on the cover and Williams compositions on them, and now now I'm currently in a long stretch of many albums in a row with no film music and no JW compositions....

 

and next up is The Planets, so that trend continues!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Leave it to Jay to find 99% of all classical boring and then write something nice about the one piece that has caused generations of bassists to die of boredom. ;) 

 

Trivia of the day: Williams' Mars is by far the fastest I have in my collection. It's almost 2 minutes shorter than Herrmann's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Marian Schedenig said:

Leave it to Jay to find 99% of all classical boring and then write something nice about the one piece that has caused generations of bassists to die of boredom. ;) 

 

Which one is that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Jay said:

Which one is that?

 

The Pachelbel. The basso continuo is just the same two bars over and over and over again. And yet it's so successful that tons of pop songs are based on it as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.