This double-disc compilation of John Williams' guitar favorites must appear, even to the uninitiated, as a commercial attempt by Sony to milk his catalog to the last possible sale. Without denigrating the guitarist's consummate skills or his usually satisfying achievements, his recordings for Columbia and Sony are repeatedly recycled in different packaging every few years, and likely will be reissued many more times. The Ultimate Guitar Collection could be changed to "penultimate," but even that is too definite a prediction of when this process will stop. That said, the album contains virtually every greatest hit that matters to guitar lovers, and is more than representative of Williams' wide-ranging work, from Baroque to Spanish classics and beyond. The selections are taken from his early, undated sessions for the LP, Echoes of London, and many other dated albums, from 1975's The Four Lute Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach, on through 2003's El Diablo Suelto. Most of the music is relaxing and pleasant, though some of the film themes from John Williams Plays the Movies disrupt the flow of fine solo playing, and are jarring for their bombastic orchestration and emotional insipidity. The sound quality varies substantially between the analog and digital recordings, and is sometimes too loud, even at a middle volume setting.
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