John Williams and The Boston Pops Orchestra: Complete Philips Recordings
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- Release Date 21 January 2022
- Product code
- Box Set
- Decca Records
John Williams is fêted as the composer par excellence of some of Hollywood’s best-loved film scores. This has somewhat overshadowed the other facet of his career, which has been of no lesser impact: John Williams as a concert conductor. Williams’ career on the podium burgeoned on his appointment as successor to Arthur Fiedler, who had over his fifty-year tenure turned the Boston Pops Orchestra into a national institution and a worldwide recognised ensemble. In the face of a daunting task, Williams’ conductorship was to prove an inspired choice. Williams legitimised film music repertoire, approaching it with more philological respect and seriousness than had been afforded it before - which in turn had the effect of elevating the value accorded it by other orchestras too. He commissioned new, more musically sophisticated symphonic arrangements of popular classics and of the Great American Songbook, replacing the lacklustre and ‘trashy’ arrangements in the Pops’ repertoire. He also expanded the orchestra’s core classical repertoire, programming European composers not previously billed, as well as commissioning new works. Williams’ legacy with the Boston Pops is superbly represented in this boxed set which collects the albums made for Philips from his first decade at the helm of the orchestra. Rounding out the set is an intimate project with the unforgettable Jessye Norman: Williams returns to his pianist roots accompanying Norman in songs by Leonard Bernstein, Michel Legrand, Richard Rodgers, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Frederick Loewe, and Billy Joel. Jessye also features on a second disc in this collection with the Pops, singing the Great American Songbook. The Philip Classics recordings constitute one of the most salient testimonies of the importance of Williams’ Boston Pops tenure, and the most comprehensive showcase of the musical skills, the interpretive acumen, and the stylistic range of conductor John Williams.
POPS ON THE MARCH
Williams pays homage to one of the most enduring and beloved repertoires of the Boston Pops: the marches. Williams expanded the repertoire with music from Europe (Walton’s Orb and Sceptre and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance no. 4, Tchaikovsky’s Coronation March, and Joseph Franz Wagner’s Under the Double Eagle), and from Hollywood (Alfred Newman’s Conquest from the 1947 film Captain from Castile and his own The Midway March, from the 1977 film The Battle of Midway).
POPS IN SPACE
The first Williams/Pops album released by Philip Classics, presents suites from his space-themed film scores: Superman, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, showcasing the stand-alone concert quality of film music.
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS
Williams’ first Christmas album with the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus features arrangements and compositions by – among others – Leroy Anderson and Charles Ives, along with a new medley commissioned by Williams of the carols of Alfred Burt, one of those lesser-known composers whom he rediscovered.
POPS AROUND THE WORLD
A selection of international overtures, from Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri, to Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla, to Auber’s The Bronze Horse, von Suppé’s Boccaccio, Bernstein’s Candide and Williams’ own The Cowboys.
AISLE SEAT – GREAT FILM MUSIC
Includes: Williams’ E.T., the Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the song “If We Were in Love” written for the Luciano Pavarotti vehicle Yes, Giorgio, and the symphonic version of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire, as well as such classics as Max Steiner’s Gone with the Wind, and Dimitri Tiomkin’s Friendly Persuasion.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Film music for the sci-fi genre, including Jerry Goldsmith’s own concert versions of Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as well as selections from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Return of the Jedi, plus the TV shows Battlestar Galactica, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek.
PROKOFIEV: PETER & THE WOLF; TCHAIKOVSKY: THE NUTCRACKER (EXCERPTS)
Williams and the Pops return to the ‘classical’ repertoire, with Prokofiev’s musical tale Peter And The Wolf with Dudley Moore narrating, and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
WITH A SONG IN MY HEART
Jessye Norman joins Williams and the Boston Pops to apply her talent to the Great American Songbook; with works by Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and George Gershwin.
SWING, SWING, SWING
Journey back to the big bands era, with orchestral presentations of In the Mood, Tuxedo Junction, Opus One, Begin the Beguine, Sing, Sing, Sing, plus Williams’s own tribute to the genre, “Swing, Swing, Swing”, from the film 1941.
AMERICA, THE DREAM GOES ON
Named after a Williams composition, this album has patriotism at its core, with a line-up of such quasi national anthems as America, The Beautiful, This Land is My Land, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Fanfare for the Common Man, and American Salute.
Is dedicated to musicals, with excerpts from Annie Get Your Guns, Cats, and A Chorus Line, as well as two tribute medleys of Duke Ellington’s works and Fred Astaire’s films.
BERNSTEIN BY BOSTON
A taster of the multifaceted output of ‘Lenny’ Bernstein, from his musicals and operettas (On the Town, Wonderful Town, West Side Story, Candide), to his theatre music (Mass), to his symphonic production (Divertimento for Orchestra).
POPS IN LOVE
gathers popular pieces in a sentimental vein by Ravel, Satie, Fauré, Debussy, Albinoni, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Pachelbel, and Vaughan-Williams.
HOLST – THE PLANETS
A pot-pourri that mixes easy-listening music from the pop-song and film repertoires: from The Girl from Ipanema, Those Were The Days, Tijuana Taxi, Mack the Knife, to the theme songs from The Pink Panther, Summer of 42, A Summer Place, Days of Wine and Roses, and Love is a Many Splendored Thing.
LUCKY TO BE ME
John Williams accompanies Jessye Norman on the piano as they explore the song repertoire of Leonard Bernstein, Michel Legrand, Richard Rodgers, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Frederick Loewe, and Billy Joel.
SALUTE TO HOLLYWOOD
Features arrangements from film songs (La Bamba, Somewhere Out There), medley tributes to award-winning songs and to Fred Astaire’s dance numbers, and selections from symphonic film scores (John Barry’s Out of Africa, David Raksin’s The Bad and the Beautiful, and Williams’ The Witches of Eastwick). Opening the album is the first recording of Williams’ arrangement of the 1937 song Hooray for Hollywood, which became one of the regular show-openers in Williams’ concerts.
POPS À LA RUSSE
Russian repertoire, including Khatchaturian’s Sabre Dance and Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov’s A Night on the Bare Mountain, and less renowned pieces such as Reinhold Glière’s Russian Sailor’s Dance from The Red Poppy.
POPS BY GERSHWIN
George Gershwin: An American in Paris ∙ Rhapsody in Blue ∙ Girl Crazy (selections) ∙ Porgy and Bess (selections)
An all-Williams collection of both film music and symphonic miniatures. POPS BRITANNIA Danny Boy, Scotland the Brave, Grainger’s Molly on the Shore, Delius’ Brigg Fair, Peter Maxwell Davies’ A Orkney Wedding: With Sunrise (an original Boston Pops commission), and Williams’ suite from the TV film Jane Eyre"