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John Williams and Berliner Philharmoniker: The Berlin Concert

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Composer John Williams turned 90 in February 2022, but the "force is still strong with him." Williams, who is an Academy Award-winning composer behind some of the most famous film scores in cinema history, is considered as one of the most prolific composers of our time. Having soundtracked more than 100 films and worked with great directors from Spielberg and George Lucas to Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Altman, to name but a few, his music has taken its listeners to "galaxies far, far away," it has made encounters with aliens enchanting, dinosaurs began walking the Earth again, and an archeology professor took us on exciting adventures. Simply put, he has enhanced and embellished so many cinematic moments over the decades and has made people wonder and believe with his music. Even though the maestro is now 90, he is still in fine creative fettle and remains an agile orchestrator and conductor as this appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic demonstrated. In October 2021, Williams made his conducting debut with the highly acclaimed Berliner Philharmoniker which saw him performing a selection of themes from some of the films he has done over the years.

In 2020, John Williams was honored by conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic) at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, where a soloist was the renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. They performed a selection of his music themes, and that performance was released as John Williams In Vienna. A year later, Williams took the baton again for a fine selection of compositions from his oeuvre, but this time for a series of concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Although the ambiance between Berlin and Vienna is similar as both are live recordings, still, the program doesn't overlap apart from very few themes. The recording opens with a bang: the "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" that was written for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. The piece starts triumphantly with brass and percussion and then the tone becomes mellow with the strings. But as the music progresses, it ends up exploding in a triumph of brass and strings. What follows this explosive opening theme are excerpts and suites of some of the most famous blockbuster films in the history of moving pictures. The setlist touches upon many of Williams classic scores and it's like he is cherry-picking the music from these film titles: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Harry Potter, Superman, E.T., Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Far and Away and Jurassic Park. The music is so interlocked with these films that one cannot hear this work without those images rolling on the silver screen of one's mind.

At the age of 90, Williams is still touring/performing internationally. This concert is 2 hours in length and yet, he is at the top of the game and delivering a mesmerizing performance from this orchestra. The composer closes the program with the Star Wars "Imperial March," which by now, 40 years since he started writing the music for these films, has been a part of the repertoire of some of the most renowned orchestras in the world. It is a suiting finale.

The Berlin Concert is both a celebration of some of the best soundtracks to some of the finest films ever and a tribute to the decades of impressive achievements of one of the world's prestigious composers.

Track Listing

Olympic Fanfare and Theme (from the 1984 Olympic Games); Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Suite; Far and Away: Suite; Hedwig's Theme (from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone); Nimbus 2000 (from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone); Harry’s Wondrous World (from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone); Jurassic Park: Theme; Superman MarchScherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra (from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade); Marion's Theme (from Raiders of the Lost Ark); Raiders March (from Raiders of the Lost Ark); Elegy for Cello and Orchestra; The Adventures of Han (from Solo: A Star Wars Story); Yoda's Theme (from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back); Throne Room and Finale (from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope); Princess Leia's Theme (from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope); Flying Theme (from E.T. The Extra- Terrestrial); Imperial March: Darth Vader's Theme (from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back).

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

John Williams: conductor, composer; Berliner Philharmoniker.

Album information

Title: The Berlin Concert | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Deutsche Grammophon


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