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Disc One covers the period between 1969 and 1989, even though the tracks are not arranged in chronological order. Instead, the fun begins with Williams' most famous (and maybe most popular) piece, "Main Title from Star Wars." It's in this disc that works from his most prolific period appear, including themes from Sugarland Express, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T., Empire of the Sun, and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies.
Although most of these tracks appear in other John Williams albums, I discovered one new gem in the Main Title from The Reivers (1969). I've never seen the film or read the Steinbeck novel of the same name, but I was captivated by Williams' way of introducing a melodic idea with a solo instrument (a guitar), then adding an Aaron Copland-like flourish of brass and strings, followed by a series of variations on a theme evoking open spaces and fun hijinks out in the countryside (indicated by the use of banjos and horns).
Another surprise on Disc One is the new arrangement of the 1984 Olympic Fanfare, commissioned for the Los Angeles Summer Games. This reworking of the fanfare adds the familiar "Bugler's Dream" everyone associates with the Olympics to Williams' vibrant march.
Disc Two covers the 1990s (with the peculiar appearance of Williams' "March from 1941," Steven Spielberg's 1979 comedy dud).Read more ›
This collection of Williams' greatest music begins strongly, with the theme from Star Wars - guaranteed to have you jumping about, fighting with an imaginary light-sabre! More music from the Star Wars collection, along with music from Indiana Jones and Jaws, all fill the mind with thoughts of dashing heroics and swashbuckling adventure.
However, Williams is not solely for lovers of action movies. Themes from E.T., Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List (to name a few) are real tear-jerkers, with beauty and emotion flooding out.
Then there's the comedy! Music from Hook and Home Alone elicit chuckles and smirks with ease.
There is not a disappointing track anywhere on this album. Williams shows his wide-ranging skill as a composer, from haunting violin solos (Schindler's List), through inspiring trumpet voluntaries (Olympic Fanfare), to the ability to set a scene like no-one else (just think of the theme from Jaws!). Not to mention the stunning choral sections (Saving Private Ryan, Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
I would especially recommend this album to anyone looking to introduce their children to classical music - youngsters will have great fun recognising themes and interpreting what they hear.
A great Christmas or birthday present (that's how I came to posess it)!