Dallas Wind Symphony / Jerry Junkin / Christopher Martin

John Williams: At the Movies

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Various collections of music by John Williams are available, and most of them involve their original orchestral scores. You might wonder whether you need a version for wind orchestra, but wonder no more: this reading by the Dallas Wind Symphony and its longtime conductor, Jerry Junkin, hits the spot in every way. You might acquire this album for the audiophile acoustics alone: the fine Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas has never sounded as good as it does here, in the hands of Reference Recordings engineers who have worked there for some years, and who have worked overtime to render the big spaces of Williams' music. And what spaces they are! If anything, the wind orchestra reading emphasizes Williams' big-boned brass writing, throwing it into sharp relief. The emphasis is set at the beginning by the Olympic Fanfare & Theme, written by Williams for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and qualifying as a film score by virtue of its later use in the Bobby Fischer biopic Pawn Sacrifice. That's one of several works that you'll immediately recognize, even without being able to place the films from which they come, and indeed, Williams' music may well outlast the films where it was used. The big, brass-dominated, symphonic scores form the basis of the program, but there's plenty more. There are terrific marches showing that among Williams' compositional ancestors was not only Copland but Sousa, and Williams' almost symbiotic relationship with director Steven Spielberg is explored. Sample "With Malice Toward None" from Lincoln to hear one of the products of Williams' barely diminished energy in old age. This album snared a pair of Grammy award nominations for Best Compendium and Best Engineering, both well deserved.

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