This album by guitarist John Williams offers a repertoire of eighteen items, versioned guitar with orchestral accompaniment, taken from well-known soundtrack movies. Williams himself claims that he is always listening to film music to play with his guitar and although soundtracks are designed differently so his versions, both bring something extra that neither words nor pictures can offer.
This is an interesting session that finds John Williams sitting in with an all-star youth orchestra. The arrangements sound very much like a high school orchestra, however, Williams is careful not to overplay and dominate the session. The "Plymouth Hoe-Down" is particularly fun and closes out the concerto with exhilaration. There are also three additional pieces from composer Paul Hart, written for guitar and keyboards. These pieces alone are worth the price of admission, as Hart masterfully taps into Williams' strengths of adaptability, technical virtuosity and impeccable tone. Highly recommended for both jazz and classical enthusiasts. ~ Robert Taylor, All Music Guide
The new box contains no fewer than three different Williams recordings of that most popular of all guitar works, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez – from 1964 with the Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, from 1974 with Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra, and from 1983 with Frémaux and the Philharmonia Orchestra – plus a performance of its much-loved Adagio in Williams’s celebrated 1993 “Seville Concert”.
John Williams composed The Five Sacred Trees for Judith LeClair, the principal bassoonist of the New York Philharmonic in 1995, to honor the orchestra's 150th anniversary. The first performance was given by LeClair and the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur on April 12 of that year. The orchestra consists of three flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, harp, piano, celesta, and strings. Performance time is approximately 26 minutes. Inspiration for the work also comes from the writings of British poet and novelist Robert Graves.
During his career John Williams has not only explored the basic classical literature for guitar, he has also expanded it by inspiring, commissioning and arranging music from different cultures and in different styles, thereby transform the instrument's repertoire. To celebrate this outstanding and ongoing recording career Sony Classical has released a 2 CD retrospective entitled John Williams: The Ultimate Guitar Collection.
John Williams, classical guitar virtuoso, is known for his wide-ranging approach to repertory, which includes appearances playing electric rock guitar and international music. (…) Williams has toured throughout the world. He has performed and recorded nearly the entire standard guitar repertory, plus a large quantity of transcriptions. Several of these transcriptions are by his own hand. He was a professor of guitar at the Royal College of Music in London from 1960 to 1973. However, he also has a strong tendency to explore music outside the classical tradition. He does session work on film soundtracks, has arranged Beatles songs, and plays electric guitar in Sky, a classical-rock fusion band. He has also formed his own ensembles, John Williams and Friends and Attacca, to explore other music.