John Williams at the Movies – Dallas Winds/ Jerry Junkin/ Christopher Martin, trumpet [Tracklist below] – Reference Recordings multichannel SACD RR-142SACD, 75:43 *****:
Jerry Junkin’s Dallas Winds are about as remarkable a group as you can imagine. And this program, with a fine, varied program of works by the great John Williams, fits them to a tee. Don’t for one moment think that somehow you are missing out with a wind band sans strings—you won’t miss them at all! The playing is adventurous and virtuosic, the sense of enthusiasm contagious and engaging, and the music itself, sensational.
But, you might say, it is only film music, right? Yes, true enough, but anyone who for one moment thinks that John Williams is not among the greatest composers America has produced has simply not been paying much attention. Like Korngold before, probably the first in a long line of great film composers, and one who was also successful in the classical realm, Williams has elevated his craft to where he easily fits in the top three film musical artists, and just as easily takes pride of place as one of the finest American composers.
Strangely enough, the only obvious omission in this program is from any of the four Indiana Jones movies, especially Raiders of the Lost Ark. I would have preferred something from there instead of the several Star Wars excerpts, as the music is equally good, but this is a small quibble. What is nice is the inclusion of several lesser-known entities like The Cowboys Overture (why don’t we hear that in the concert hall?) and the March from 1941, a whacky and not very successful movie that nonetheless had some intriguing music. And certainly including New York Philharmonic (and formerly Chicago Symphony principal trumpet) Christopher Martin’s gorgeous solo work from the movie Lincoln is a huge plus—Martin recorded the original soundtrack and was enticed to come and duplicate the effort here.
So, all in all a spectacular and exceedingly worthy effort in outstanding surround sound, Keith O. Johnson’s ability to capture perfection in the Meyerson Center in Dallas further proof of his brilliance as a sound engineer. Great music, great fun, great sound—what else do you need?
Olympic Fanfare and Theme
The Cowboys Overture
Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
With Malice Toward None from Lincoln
Star Wars (Main Title)
Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back
Scherzo for X Wings from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Jedi Steps and Finale from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Theme from J.F.K.
Adventures on Earth from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
March from 1941
The Star-Spangled Banner