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What are the "definitive" recordings of JW's Star Wars concert pieces?


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People seem to be fond of the Gerhardt recordings here, it seems, for a lot of the Original Trilogy concert suites, but I'm wondering if anyone has any opinions.

 

For the newer pieces this process is a bit more simple seeing as there are fewer recordings to choose between, but opinions are appreciated.

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I can't say what is "definitive," but these are my favorite versions of the various OT concert pieces:

 

Main Title (London Symphony, The Hollywood Sound)

Princess Leia's Theme (Boston Pops)

Here they Come (Skywalker Symphony)

Throne Room and Finale (Skywalker Symphony)

The Imperial March (Vienna Phil)

Yoda's Theme (Boston Pops)
The Asteroid Field (Boston Pops)

Luke and Leia (Boston Pops)

Parade of the Ewoks (Skywalker Symphony)

Jabba the Hutt (Skywalker Symphony)

The Forest Battle (Skywalker Symphony)

 

As you can see, it's the Williams-conducted recordings which I prefer.  I know many here are fond of the Varujan Kojian recording with the Utah Symphony, but it's never been a favorite of mine.

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2 hours ago, Matt S. said:

I can't say what is "definitive," but these are my favorite versions of the various OT concert pieces:

 

Main Title (London Symphony, The Hollywood Sound)

Princess Leia's Theme (Boston Pops)

Here they Come (Skywalker Symphony)

Throne Room and Finale (Skywalker Symphony)

The Imperial March (Vienna Phil)

Yoda's Theme (Boston Pops)
The Asteroid Field (Boston Pops)

Luke and Leia (Boston Pops)

Parade of the Ewoks (Skywalker Symphony)

Jabba the Hutt (Skywalker Symphony)

The Forest Battle (Skywalker Symphony)

 

As you can see, it's the Williams-conducted recordings which I prefer.  I know many here are fond of the Varujan Kojian recording with the Utah Symphony, but it's never been a favorite of mine.

5 hours ago, TheAvengerButton said:

People seem to be fond of the Gerhardt recordings here, it seems, for a lot of the Original Trilogy concert suites, but I'm wondering if anyone has any opinions.

 

For the newer pieces this process is a bit more simple seeing as there are fewer recordings to choose between, but opinions are appreciated.

 

The Varujan Kojian album is the first film music CD i ever had, so it has an extra special place in my collection for me. The Imperial March is ferocious! however I suspect many find it too fast. 

 

The Boston Pops recordings aren't really full of excitement compared to some of the others considering Star Wars in terms of performance needs that sense of excitement. 

 

The Skywalker Symphony is a good solid album, however is a little thin compared with the Utah Symphony for me. 

 

Vienna Philharmonic is definitely a stellar performance of The Imperial March, I struggle to enjoy it sometimes because of the forwardness of the mix and how bright it is. 

 

That Main Title - London Symphony recording from the hollywood sound is definitely my favourite re-recording of the main title, perhaps with the more recent recording of the main titles in air studios with the LSO. 

 

The Gerhardt recordings are certainly good (especially Empire), but like the Vienna mixing, it's a bit too forward and bright. 

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1 hour ago, aj_vader said:

The Varujan Kojian album … Imperial March is ferocious! however I suspect many find it too fast.


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

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3 hours ago, QuartalHarmony said:


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.

 

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.

 

Yeah that poor flute player. The poor trombones having to do the ostinato at the end, the main melody and the syncopated section without a bar of rest. 

 

What do you mean when you say the sound stream recording? i've not heard of this!?? 

 

Yeah it's a shame how slow Vienna was. I'm hoping (if i'm lucky enough that's it's played) that the Berlin version is better. 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, SilverTrumpet said:

Is the Skywalker Symphony still around or did they die off as with most great things like Lucasarts with the Disney acquisition?

 

Kylo Ren killed them all.

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18 hours ago, aj_vader said:

What do you mean when you say the sound stream recording? i've not heard of this!??


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:

2D3EA327-96BD-4ACE-BD8B-AE9EC8EC8CD7.jpeg

17 hours ago, Bespin said:

this album is a must have


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

17 hours ago, Bespin said:
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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

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31 minutes ago, QuartalHarmony said:

I’m still amazed, though, at how rarely-recorded Han & the Princess is. Do you think JW didn’t like it?

 

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.

 

R-17046840-1611326264-1044.jpeg.jpg

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The new Han Solo and the Princess arrangement sounds to me rather like a prequel piece than like something from the original trilogy. Still I like it. But I like the prequel scores anyway.

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The new Han Solo and the Princess arrangement to me sounds like JW is eulogizing Carrie Fisher more-so than anything else.  It certainly has no relation to the tone and feel of the TESB score or film

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9 minutes ago, Jay said:

The new Han Solo and the Princess arrangement to me sounds like JW is eulogizing Carrie Fisher more-so than anything else.  It certainly has no relation to the tone and feel of the TESB score or film

 

This is my theory as well.

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I already have a few pieces off of John Williams Conducts John Williams, but you lot have convinced me to purchase it entire.

 

What about some of the prequel concert pieces?

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It's such a shame Williams has never recorded his concert version of The Flag Parade. If I was his boss, I'd tell him to fix that!

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On 8/20/2021 at 9:32 PM, Jay said:

The new Han Solo and the Princess arrangement to me sounds like JW is eulogizing Carrie Fisher more-so than anything else.  It certainly has no relation to the tone and feel of the TESB score or film


Clearly the tone is not the one in TESB but a more melancholic one. I see TESB as the beginning of the love, where the 2018 arrangement is the conclusion of that love after the fall of Ben.

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I never claimed I was going to be exhaustive nor definitive!

 

I’m using Spotify for Gerhardt & Mehta and the search function only threw up the OST version of TLPW. It was as if Mehta & Gerhardt didn’t exist.

 

Anyway, given the only feedback I’ve had so far is the equivalent of ‘You’ve missed a bit’, I’ve just listened to Gerhardt (honestly, the things I do for you lot) and it’s pretty good, especially the tuba solo. Tempo’s closer to the OST, but starts to sound rushed later on. The string glisses around 2:30 are fun; perhaps milked a bit more than good taste requires. Not sure I like the slight rall at 3:41, but the timps at 3:50 are great. The ending is a bit clunky though.

 

I’m going to stick with Skywalker, but there’s not much in it.

 

Now, what’s next?

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15 minutes ago, QuartalHarmony said:

I never claimed I was going to be exhaustive nor definitive!

 

I’m using Spotify for Gerhardt & Mehta and the search function only threw up the OST version of TLPW. It was as if Mehta & Gerhardt didn’t exist.

 

Anyway, given the only feedback I’ve had so far is the equivalent of ‘You’ve missed a bit’, I’ve just listened to Gerhardt (honestly, the things I do for you lot) and it’s pretty good, especially the tuba solo. Tempo’s closer to the OST, but starts to sound rushed later on. The string glisses around 2:30 are fun; perhaps milked a bit more than good taste requires. Not sure I like the slight rall at 3:41, but the timps at 3:50 are great. The ending is a bit clunky though.

 

I’m going to stick with Skywalker, but there’s not much in it.

 

Now, what’s next?

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. 

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The Hollywood Sound Main Title is so so good. Apart from.... one of those things that once I heard it, I can't un-hear it, and now it bugs me..... French horn at 3:08. That poor note. Cut off in its prime :)

Yes, I'm picky! :D

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I'd have to go with LSO for all of them, for the simple reason that they are a much better orchestra than any of the alternatives, except, possibly, the Vienna Phil, but even that's a toss up.

 

That said, John Williams Conducts John Williams was the first album I ever bought with my own money, so I will always have a special love for it.

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On 8/23/2021 at 10:52 AM, DrTenma said:

I see TESB as the beginning of the love, where the 2018 arrangement is the conclusion of that love after the fall of Ben.

 

Sure, but its also very much a eulogy for Fisher.

 

That theme is attached to her character: we hear it grow right out of Leia's theme.

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I’m surprised nobody mentioned the few tracks that Kunzel and the Cincinnati pops have recorded on their various compilations. I always thought they were pretty good  interpretations of these pieces. As well as many other film work. 

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I've got Star Tracks II, so when I get to listening to the concert suites from ROTJ, I'll be including Kunzel's Ewoks alongside the usual suspects.

 

Life's a bit busy today, but I'll try to get Here They Come listened to, along with my verdict which I know you're all awaiting with bated breath.

 

Mark

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7 hours ago, Schilkeman said:

I'd have to go with LSO for all of them, for the simple reason that they are a much better orchestra than any of the alternatives, except, possibly, the Vienna Phil, but even that's a toss up.

 

That said, John Williams Conducts John Williams was the first album I ever bought with my own money, so I will always have a special love for it.

 

That's what I've been doing. Where applicable I'll just stick with the LSO stuff, but the exclusive concert material is what I'm focusing on in this thread (i.e. Jabba the Hutt, Adagio, etc.), since it's original material.

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On 8/23/2021 at 7:04 AM, QuartalHarmony said:

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.

If I remember my Special Edition liner notes correctly, I believe they spent at least three full days recording that arrangement. I think the tightness of the climax at 3:41, and the superior string sections of the LSO lift this recording above the others, flubbed notes or not.

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Here They Come!

 

OST, LSO/Williams: (RCA, D2 T9 from 2:03). There’s a real fierceness and rawness here which feels absolutely right. Ultimately though, it’s not the concert version, so it serves more as a measuring stick for the remainder.


NPO/Gerhardt: Horns aren’t very well articulated at 0:18. Brass slur the descending figure at 0:22 in a way I don’t care for (though at 1:09 it’s more staccato like it should be, before trying to do a bit of both at 1:42. Make up your mind!). The tempo is suitably rushing and desperate.

 

There’s a little bit of this piece in The Battle by LAPO/Mehta but it’s not much so doesn’t really qualify here.

 

Utah SO/Kojian: Good tempo and articulation. Pounding percussion throughout is just right.

 

Skywalker SO/Williams: Tempo is rather more stately, which I don’t think is right for this piece. At least I can hear something other than brass & percussion in the loud passages, which wasn’t true for the others. 1:43-6 is a bit too smooth and oily for my liking.

 

My verdict: Utah

 

12 hours ago, Schilkeman said:

If I remember my Special Edition liner notes correctly, I believe they spent at least three full days recording that arrangement.


Having just checked, I have to tell you that it was recorded early on Day 2 (March 8th). The description in the liner notes says nothing about extra rehearsals, but the log says they did no fewer than 12 takes, which is more than for any other cue!

On 8/23/2021 at 4:42 PM, bigjimwilson said:

French horn at 3:08. That poor note. Cut off in its prime


Erm… can’t hear what you mean! That high C on the horn might be a bit early, but I think it’s the right length. What do you hear?

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21 hours ago, QuartalHarmony said:

Erm… can’t hear what you mean! That high C on the horn might be a bit early, but I think it’s the right length. What do you hear?


Not the C, but the last G of the melody repeat. Definitely a bit on the short side, and a little weaker than it should be. Like I say.... picky!

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For the musically uneducated like myself, what's a layman's definition of the difference between quaver and semiquavers, and what are the reasons JW might have wanted to change this?

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The Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops recording of the Throne Room and Finale is quite good as well, but my favorite is also the Skywalker SO.

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Right, that's ANH done, so on with ESB:

 

The Imperial March

 

OST, LSO/Williams: Very good, remembering again that they would have been virtually sight-reading. At 1:06, the horn is too quiet but otherwise there's not much wrong with this.

 

NPO/Gerhardt: Well, to begin with, this isn't really the same thing! Until 0:27 it sounds to me like they're playing the snippet from where Han's being prepared for Jabba's Frozen Foods Emporium. So there's that. Once it starts to sound more familiar, it's also pretty good. just after 1:00, the strings really start to push the tempo to the point that it's a bit too fast for the quieter middle section. At 1:45 the horns sound almost clownish rather than menacing. The crescendo at 2:26 is a bit cheesy for my taste but, to be fair, it is notated in the HL score. One of the trumpets splits a note at 3:03, which reminds us what a horrific stress-test this piece is.

 

Boston Pops/Williams: My word, this is slow by comparison! At 0:53 the harp sounds like it's late, but actually it's spot on with the score, so big up to the harpist. At 1:38 onwards, the triangle's rather too loud and intrusive. At 2:38, I can actually hear the winds and piano playing what's notated - not just tonic notes on the beat, but a challenging twiddle around the note - well done! In the last 10 seconds, it's great to hear two different sizes of cymbal being used; I'm pretty sure it was just the one set on the previous recordings.

 

Utah SO/Kojian: As discussed a while back, this is far too fast. It's particularly brutal on the poor flutes at 0:44, since it's physically impossible to flutter-tongue that fast. George Korngold should have reined Kojian in at that point (or vice versa, since we'll never know whose silly idea the tempo was). Sadly, in the circumstances, there's no point discussing anything else about this version.

 

Skywalker SO/Williams: Ah, this is better all-round. As well as being the right tempo, it actually sounds properly menacing. The dynamic contrast at 0:46 is quite rightly shocking in its suddenness. At 2:14 right through to the end, the rhythm is so tight and has such bite, it's genuinely exciting. 

 

VPO/Williams: There are some great things about this recording, not least that the brass were still able to play at this level at the end of a long concert. JW's mouthed 'wow' we see on the video is in now way undeserved. Unfortunately, like the Kojian, the chosen tempo leaves it dead in the water in this shootout, but this time it's just far too slow. The final nail in the coffin is the unexpected rall in the last bar - no idea what The Man was thinking, but I'm afraid it's a No from me this time.

 

My verdict: Skywalker SO, by some distance. If this doesn't raise your pulse and have you air-conducting, call an ambulance - you may be dead from the neck up. Honourable mention to the OST.

 

 

Since I've got the time, let's fly straight into:

 

The Asteroid Field (see what I did there? )

 

OST, LSO/Williams (RCA D1, T6): Again, not the Concert Suite but worth starting here as a jumping-off point. As others have mentioned, I'm not sure I don't prefer this to the Concert Suite. The first 1:13 is good, and the way it collapses in relief at 3:21 and goes into the love theme is wonderful. You then get a beautifully tasteful bit of mickey-mousing of the Falcon looping at 3:40 before being guided to a sense of new uncertainty about our heroes' location at 3:50. If only all film music could be this good; what a shame it's never(?) been re-recorded in this form. Maybe one day.

 

NPO/Gerhardt: A great exciting beginning, although it's a shame the brass is far too loud at 0:09 and drowns out the great work being done elsewhere at that point. Rhythm is generally a bit shonky, especially in transitional moments: 0:55 and 2:55 are two particularly jarring examples. It's a pity, because the individual players are generally doing a really good job, but they're just not together enough as a band. Oh, and one of the violins sounds like it's got a wasp stuck in it at 1:34.

 

Boston Pops/Williams: Another great start, but the ensemble and rhythm are off here too. Brass accents at 0:11 are late, as are the trumpets at 0:18. Thankfully, it improves from there, although the cymbals at 0:22 onwards sound apologetic. The violins don't sound terribly sure about their high note at 2:45. Generally, though, this is far from bad.

 

Skywalker SO: A shade slower than the above two versions, but it's perhaps then not a coincidence that the band is actually together pretty much throughout. The final few bars in the other two sounded a bit random, as if no-one was quite sure what was going on, but here it sounds like the players know what they're up to.

 

My verdict: Tricky, this one. If you want a tight ensemble and can live with a slightly relaxed tempo, Skywalker; if it's all about the tempo for you and you're prepared to smile indulgently at a few slightly ramshackle moments, Boston.

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Now, even combining my CD collection and Spotify, it looks like there's only one version of the 1980concert suite of Han and the Princess (viz. NPO/Gerhardt) and it all goes quiet until the revised version in 2019 which is only available on the Slovak SO/Ziegler recording. If that's right, there's not a lot of point comparing apples with oranges so we'd better hyperspace to Dagobah to consider:

 

Yoda's Theme

 

OST, LSO/Williams: This sounds too slow to start with, then almost slightly too fast in the second subject at 1:00. But... then I checked with the HL score and my metronome and they're both basically spot on. I always assumed JW decides on the metronome markings at the point when he's approving the score for publication, but maybe they use the OST recordings as a reference. No, wait a minute - the reprise at 1:20 stays at the faster tempo, when the HL clearly states Tempo I at bar 27, so scratch that idea. The harpist rewards him/herself with a non-notated bonus arpeggio at 2:31 - yes, darling, we're all very proud of you.

 

NPO/Gerhardt: Starts a smidge on the slow side, but then speeds up to the notated tempo. Interestingly, the same thing happens in the second subject at 0:59. It doesn't go quite back to Tempo I at 1:20, but there is a definite slowing, as marked in the score. At 2:09 onwards, there are rather excessive pauses between each phrase which rather ruins the flow, although that's nothing compared to the pause before the final chord which I timed to be well over a second of silence! The harpist here is rather more modestly perfunctory than their counterpart on the OST and just plays what's written at 2:34.

 

Boston Pops/Williams: The first minute of this was lovely, until the winds came in a fraction flat at 0:57, which was a real shame. Otherwise, there's not much to dislike about this, but that tuning's a bit of a deal-breaker for me.

 

Utah SO/Kojian: Opening tempo is bang on. Cellos and horns play the extra semiquaver F# at 0:45 which I think tends to get smudged in other versions. I thought the glock player was taking a moment to wake up at 0:51, but it's exactly as notated in the score so high five for that. The harpist is almost too perfunctory at 2:25 - bored, perhaps?

 

Skywalker SO/Williams: Ah, now I know why the tempos of the others all sounded so wrong! This one paces along ahead of the score's tempo marking until 0:52 when it then lags behind, and this disc was my first (and, for some time, only) version of the concert suites. As such, it sounds right to me just from simple familiarity, but I can't avoid the fact that it's off compared to the score. Tuning is particularly sweet in this one, apart from the piccolo top C at 1:09 which absolutely no-one seems to be able to get in tune. The pre-final chord pause is almost two whole seconds long here, so Williams takes the prize from Gerhadt for that, whilst thankfully not pausing between phrases in the earlier section.

 

My verdict: Utah if you want it to match the HL score, but I'm probably going to stick with Skywalker because it's what I know.

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1 hour ago, QuartalHarmony said:

Now, even combining my CD collection and Spotify, it looks like there's only one version of the 1980concert suite of Han and the Princess (viz. NPO/Gerhardt) and it all goes quiet until the revised version in 2019 which is only available on the Slovak SO/Ziegler recording. If that's right,

 

There's at least THREE recordings, actually!

 

1 - Charles Gerhardt conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra, as you indicated, recorded in 1980

 

 

2 - Roy Budd conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, from the "Big Screen Adventures" album from 1992

 

This one doesn't seem to be on youtube or spotify :(

 

3 - Paul Bateman conducting The City of Prague Orchestra, for the Music From the Films of Harrison Ford album from 1994.  Silva has released it since on endless compilations

 

Here it is on youtube

 

 

It's on spotify too

 

https://open.spotify.com/album/6Ive7y5KGzqhmCEHDxX1es?si=kwkFXqGrRhiBPzXBiFzN4A&dl_branch=1

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OK, thanks @Jay. Having just listened to the Prague and Gerhardt recordings, there’s really no competition: Gerhardt’s is clearly superior.

 

Has JW ever conducted any version of H&tP (e.g. in concert)? I’m still trying to work out why he might have such a downer on what I think is clearly one of the great Romantic film themes.

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The original 1980 arrangement?  Yes, I believe he has; The Boston Pops archive is searchable and should yield results if he did it with them.  I cannot recall ever coming across a youtube video or anything of him conducting it though.

 


The 2018 arrangement?  Yes, he has:

 

 

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Well, yesterday was productive and today we're on to ROTJ, starting with:

 

Jabba the Hut(t)

 

OST, LSO/Williams (RCA D1 T6 from 2:48): Once more, not the full suite but a good reference starting point. Around 3:40, the wind accents get a bit out of time. Seems to end rather suddenly and without the cadenza that I'm sure my old Polydor CD had. Foolishly, I donated my Polydor CDs to a charity shop when the 90s box set came out. Guess how I look back on that decision now, eh?

 

NPO/Gerhardt: Slightly slower, and the tuba is rather deliberate over the chromatic scales rather than treating them effectively as grace notes (e.g. on the very first entry at 0:07). Deliberate isn't exactly wrong when portraying Jabba, I suppose. Worse is to come, though, when the phrase at 0:25 goes badly wrong and there are just too many other mistakes in the tuba part following this. As a result, this is sadly has to be out of the running.

 

Boston Pops/Williams: Much better, with the tuba player sounding considerably more confident. Tempo is good too - definitely not too slow, as could be tempting. The cadenza is a bit rushed and breathy in places.

 

Utah SO, Kojian: Good tempo, solid tuba playing, although perhaps a little rushed in places. The occasional accented notes around 1:10 made me smile. The middle section seems to slow down after the 2:00 mark, which is odd.

 

Skywalker SO/Williams: Blimey, this is fast! No wonder the whole track is almost a minute faster than Utah. It's not bad particularly, but it starts to sound rushed in the middle section and recapitulation. The cadenza whips through the notes so fast, I can only assume poor old Floyd Cooley was desperate for the toilet.

 

My verdict: not much in it between Boston and Utah, so take your pick.

 

 

[I must confess to being a great fan of the tuba players' names on this piece: Chester Schmitz, Gene Pokorny, Floyd Cooley...]

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Off to Endor to experience the...

 

Parade of the Ewoks

 

OST, LSO/Williams (RCA D2 T1): This is missing the four opening bars that were added to later versions. The rest is pretty good fun. There's a slightly crude edit at 1:54 that I'd never noticed before.

 

NPO/Gerhardt: Also missing the first four bars so matches the OST version. Strings are a bit late at 1:00. At 1:34, is that someone opening a creaky door or another percussion effect? The horns' semiquavers here are rushed, which isn't good. As the final chord dies away, something's still ringing that should have been damped.

 

Boston Pops/Williams: I think the opening four bars make their first appearance here, since this was recorded in June '83, and Gerhardt's was a bit earlier, in May. Opening woodwinds are a bit behind the beat from 0:15 onwards. Their tuning is slightly iffy too, but that might be intentionally 'primitive' for the Ewoks. The tin-pot percussion at 1:15 does some odd octave-switching. The horns at 1:40 sound just right, as if they're echoing through the forest.

 

Utah SO/Kojian: Opening woodwinds actually sound mysterious, which is good. The tambourine starting at 1:42 is a bit too loud, but otherwise there's not much to criticize here.

 

Cincinnati Pops/Kunzel: Starts well enough, but then gets quite ponderous from 0:38 onwards. Percussion at 1:22 is very tin-pot, as with Boston, but without the octave-switching. The ensemble starts to fall apart briefly at 1:40 but it comes back in the next section. At 3:35, something (glock, I think) is still ringing after the final chord is dying away.

 

Skywalker SO/Williams: Opening winds at 0:13 are rather behind the beat (as with Boston) and the tinkle chimes are very loud. Tempo is just a fraction under what it should be, being especially noticeable at 1:13 for example. This is generally good, but not the best here.

 

My verdict: Utah.

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On 8/30/2021 at 12:43 PM, Jay said:

The original 1980 arrangement?  Yes, I believe he has; The Boston Pops archive is searchable and should yield results if he did it with them.  I cannot recall ever coming across a youtube video or anything of him conducting it though.

 


The 2018 arrangement?  Yes, he has:

 

 

 

Man, that arrangement is one of the only things I can think of that Williams has done wrong. It's like spending 5 min waiting for him to finish his sentence.

 

I know I don't like it, but is this the first time he's ever rewritten a theme?

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He didn't rewrite the theme, it's a different concert arrangement of the exact same theme. 

 

And I guess the new Marion's theme arrangement from 2008 is another example, though that arrangement is closer to the world of Raiders than this one is to Empire 

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