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”.
For the 2014/15 Opening Night Concert and Gala, the Los Angeles Philharmonic paid loving tribute to composer John Williams, one of the most popular and successful American composers of the modern age and long a champion and close friend of the orchestra. Gustavo Dudamel, an awestruck fan of the musical icon, led the orchestra in a cross-section of Maestro Williams' matchless canon. The concert features Itzhak Perlman with a very special musical performance of pieces from Schindler's List as well as the cadenza and variations from Fiddler On The Roof. Jazz elements fill the air during Escapades from Catch Me If You Can, and may the force be with you during the iconic tunes from Star Wars. The Blu-ray bonus features include interviews with the main protagonists, including Gustavo Dudamel, John Williams, and Itzhak Perlman.
Music both old and new, but all of it inspired by the timeless modal harmony of medieval and Mediterranean cultures: this is the subject of John Williams's brilliant guitar disc for Sony, which also features his debut as a composer. The main work is his own "Aeolian Suite" for guitar and chamber orchestra, based on both original and 14th-century tunes (one of which, the "Saltarello," appeared on early-music pioneer David Munrow's disc called Instruments of the Middle Ages). The suite is a lovely piece of writing, deftly composed, and neither tacky nor pretentious. It's paired with an inspired assortment of spiritually related but diverse arrangements and original pieces by Satie, Theodorakis, Domeniconi, and an emotionally intense four-movement work called "Stélé," by Australian composer Phillip Houghton. Naturally, Williams performs each piece expertly, but most important, he makes his instrument sing, and that's just what the music demands. Simply super.