Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Ultimate Edition Double CD, Limited Edition, Soundtrack
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Whatever your opinion of Lucas' films' cash-hoovering marketing tactics, there's little doubt that this "Ultimate Edition" of John Wiliams' fourth foray into that galaxy far, far away will be of certain interest to both rapacious Star Wars fans and aficionados of Williams' exquisite styling. A formidable two-disc set, with 68 tracks in chronological order over two hours, this score, like the film itself, lacks the iconic freshness of A New Hope (the first Star Wars film) and is hindered by forgivable self-plagiarism. However, it's undoubtedly an accomplished, enjoyable work, with Williams showcasing his strengths with impressive ease, and therefore, easily worthy of the Star Wars brand. This is especially true with this meatier version, where Williams' new themes mingle comfortably and effectively with the first trilogy's classic motifs such as the Main Title fanfare and the Force theme. His renowned technique for leitmotif gets a wonderfully subtle example with the string-driven "Anakin's Theme" (End Credits) in which the sweepingly innocent chorus is given a forbidding coda with the briefest snatch of the "Imperial Theme" from The Empire Strikes Back. With its Wagnerian chorus, courtesy of a 180-strong choir chanting Sanskrit, "Duel of the Fates" remains the score's high-point, giving the film's climactic lightsabre duels the apocalyptic urgency they deserve. Elsewhere, Williams imbues "The Flag Parade" with some Ben Hur bombast, while "Escape From Naboo" is thrilling, adrenalised fare. Ending with a fun, dialogue version of "Duel of The Fates", this is an impressive and exhaustive collection, confirming that Williams' lush, vivid themes define Lucas' universe as much as the special effects. --Danny Graydon
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In addition, you also get some source music from the Tatooine scenes and a cheesy version of Duel of the Fates with dialogue, which is basically an audio trailer for the film. These extras are of curiosity value only to me.
Downsides? For a start there are no altenate cues like there were on the excellent RCA 2 Disc releases of the other films. Nor do we get detailed descriptions of the tracks. Packaging is quite lavish but also a little amateurish compared to the RCA discs. Since this is the score exactly how it was on the film, some of the transitions between cues are not as seamless as on the 1 disc release. This is especially noticable during the final battle, where the music jumps about all over the place. Also lacking are the concert arrangemnents of Duel of the Fates and Anakin's Theme.
In conclusion, if you want the full experience of the score of TPM, This disc is a must. But last years release also remains essential, since it contains the concert arrangements.
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