John Williams has been Hollywood’s main composer for over half a century. A keeper of the Golden Age flame of hovering grandeur and indelible melodies, he’s the musical thoughts behind the two-note terror of “Jaws,” the operatic fanfare of “Star Wars” and the mischievous appeal of “Harry Potter” — together with the sounds of some 50 different Academy Award-nominated scores.
Through the years, Williams has additionally maintained a strong profession within the live performance corridor. However whereas his soundtracks are the stuff of cultural immortality, his symphonic works have by no means discovered a foothold within the repertory. Even now, as his music is programmed by the storied ensembles of Vienna and Berlin, it’s extra prone to be “E.T.” than his “Essay for Strings.”
Williams’s live performance works are typically skillful however much less imaginative than his movie scores. And a few — notably pièces d’event just like the larky “Soundings,” written for the opening of Walt Disney Live performance Corridor in Los Angeles in 2003 — are understandably obscure. At his greatest, although, he’s a vivid tone painter with a masterly command of orchestration and type. Listed here are 5 examples.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1976)
Reminiscent at instances of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto and, prefer it, written within the wake of loss — for Williams, the sudden loss of life of his spouse — this entry into the style strikes fluidly, and infrequently unpredictably, out and in of lyricism, volatility and breathlessness. Premiered in 1981 by Mark Peskanov, it discovered a broader viewers when recorded three a long time later by Gil Shaham and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with which Williams has an extended affiliation.
‘The 5 Sacred Timber’ (1993)
Kind of a bassoon concerto, this fee for the New York Philharmonic’s a hundred and fiftieth anniversary opens with an extended solo that conjures the primary (and wisest) of 5 bushes from Celtic mythology. The actions that observe are arboreal portraits in music: a puckish, dancing duet for the bassoon and a violin; a mysterious nocturne; curlicue phrases choked into fragments; and affected person brooding.
Cello Concerto (1994)
Williams composed this for Yo-Yo Ma to inaugurate Seiji Ozawa Corridor at Tanglewood. (Amongst Williams’s works for the instrument, it has aged higher than Three Items for Solo Cello, a 2001 meditation on Black historical past with titles like “Pickin’.”) Tailor-made to its soloist like a movie rating to its scenes, the concerto is designed to mirror totally different angles of Ma’s artistry: as a heroic virtuoso, a nimble genre-hopper and, within the ruminative finale, an expressive communicator.
Horn Concerto (2003)
Dale Clevenger — the Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn grasp for whom this was written, and who died last month — as soon as told an interviewer that he had requested an “audience-friendly” concerto from Williams. The result’s troublesome to play but typically heat, whereas additionally being practically programmatic in its succession of tone poems that verge on the Coplandesque within the third-movement Pastorale.
If this atmospheric and discursive work looks like the beginning of one thing bigger, it type of is. Written on the urging of the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and leaning into her trademark eloquence, it was the primary in a collection of collaborations which have since included an album of Williams’s film music organized for her and orchestra, in addition to his Second Violin Concerto, which premiered final 12 months and comes to Carnegie Hall in April.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/arts/music/john-williams-playlist.html John Williams within the Live performance Corridor: An Introduction