If there's anyone who is close to being the United States' "national composer," it's got to be John Williams. He's the man who led the Boston Pops (U.S. national orchestra) for years and created the music for Star Wars, Superman, Jaws, Harry Potter, and pretty much every Steven Spielberg film ever made. So who do you call upon to create new Olympic fanfares? That's right, John Williams. His first foray into Olympiana came with a theme created for the 1988 Los Angeles games. Williams also created a soaring fanfare (which appears as a bonus track on this CD) called "Summon the Heroes" for the 1996 Atlanta games and has written a rousing piece that premiered as the official theme of the 2002 Winter Olympics. "Call of the Champions" opens the album on a gloriously rich and rewarding note. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir erupts with the call of "Citius, Altius, Fortius," only to be followed by full-blown orchestral fireworks. All the pieces on this CD feature blasts of trumpets, bombastic horns, and stirring string passages. These works go a long way in explaining why Williams appeals to both film score enthusiasts and the classical music crowd -- he can hit your gut and your intellect within the same composition. Along with the two Olympic pieces, another highlight is the premiere recording of the title work, "American Journey," a six-movement suite composed to accompany Steven Spielberg's turn-of-the-millennium tribute film. Divorced from the images and words it was written to accompany, the music still captures the power and depth of feeling evident in the American century. Rounded out with premier recordings of several shorter pieces, this album makes for a joyous celebration of the American spirit -- and a quintessentially American composer.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Shurley
|American Journey, suite for orchestra|
|Sound the Bells!, fanfare for brass & percussion (or orchestra)|