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Star Wars Trilogy [6 CD] by John Williams
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Star Wars Trilogy [6 CD] (1997)

by John Williams

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Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi

The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music composed and conducted by John Williams


Played by the London Symphony Orchestra
Orchestrations: Herbert W. Spencer

A New Hope (48’15+57’33):
Recorded in March 1977, Anvil Studios, Denham, England.
35mm magnetic elements transferred at the North Room, Zanuck Theatre, Twentieth Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, CA, April 1996.
16-track analog elements transferred at Trax, Hollywood, CA, May 1996.

The Empire Strikes Back (62’43+61’44):
Recorded in December 1979 & January 1980, Anvil Studios, Denham, England & EMI Abbey Road Studios, London, England.
24-track analog elements transferred at the North Room, Zanuck Theatre, Twentieth Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, CA, April 1996.

Return of the Jedi (73’15+74’45):
Recorded in January & February 1983 and November 1996 (“Victory Celebration”), Abbey Road Studios, London, England.
“Jedi Rocks” composed and arranged by Jerry Hey; recorded in October 1996, Lansdowne Studios, London, England.

Digitally assembled and mastered at Digiprep, Hollywood, CA, April–June 1996 and July, August and December 1996 & January 1997 (Return of the Jedi).
Albums editing and assembly supervised by Michael Matessino
Multi-track transfers: Brian Risner & Dan Hersch (Return of the Jedi)
Digital editing and mastering: Dan Hersch

Sony Classical, 2004. 3 X 2-CD. In slipcase.

Contents

A New Hope

Disc 1

[1] 20th Century Fox Fanfare (Alfred Newman, 1954)
[2] Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner
[3] Imperial Attack
[4] The Dune Sea of Tatooine/Jawa Sandcrawler
[5] The Moisture Farm
[6] The Hologram/Binary Sunset
[7] Landspeeder Search/Attack of the Sand People
[8] Tales of a Jedi Knight/Learn about the force
[9] Burning Homestead
[10] Mos Eisley Spaceport
[11] Cantina Band
[12] Cantina Band #2
[13] Archival bonus track: Binary Sunset (alternate)

Disc 2
[1] Princess Leia’s Theme
[2] The Millennium Falcon/Imperial Cruiser Pursuit
[3] Destruction of Alderaan
[4] The Death Star/The Stormtroopers
[5] Wookiee Prisoner/Detention Block Ambush
[6] Shootout in the Cell Bay/Dianoga
[7] The Trash Compactor
[8] The Tractor Beam/Chasm crossfire
[9] Ben Kenobi’s Death/The Fighter Attack
[10] The Battle of Yavin
[11] The Throne Room/End Title

The Empire Strikes Back

Disc 1

[1] 20th Century Fox Fanfare (Alfred Newman, 1954)
[2] Main Title/The Ice Planet Hoth
[3] The Wampa’s Lair/Vision of Obi-Wan/Snowspeeders Take Flight
[4] The Imperial Probe/Aboard the Executor
[5] The Battle of Hoth
[6] The Asteroid Field
[7] Arrival on Dagobah
[8] Luke’s Nocturnal Visitor
[9] Han Solo and the Princess
[10] Jedi Master Revealed/Mynock Cave
[11] The Training of a Jedi Knight/The Magic Tree

Disc 2
[1] The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
[2] Yoda’s Theme
[3] Attacking a Star Destroyer
[4] Yoda and the Force
[5] Imperial Starfleet Deployed/City in the Clouds
[6] Lando’s Palace
[7] Betrayal at Bespin
[8] Deal with the Dark Lord
[9] Carbon Freeze/Darth Vader’s Trap/Departure of Boba Fett
[10] The Clash of Lightsabers
[11] Rescue from Cloud City/Hyperspace
[12] The Rebel Fleet/End Title

Return of the Jedi

Disc 1

[1] 20th Century Fox Fanfare (Alfred Newman, 1954)
[2] Main Title/Approaching the Death Star/Tatooine Rendezvous
[3] The Droids are Captured
[4] Bounty for a Wookiee
[5] Han Solo Returns
[6] Luke Confronts Jabba/Den of the Rancor/Sarlacc Sentence
[7] The Pit of Carkoon/Sail Barge Assault
[8] The Emperor Arrives/The Death of Yoda/Obi-Wan’s Revelation
[9] Alliance Assembly
[10] Shuttle Tydirium Approaches Endor
[11] Speeder Bike Chase/Land of the Ewoks
[12] The Levitation/Threepio’s Bedtime Story
[13] Source music: Jabba’s Baroque Recital
[14] Source music: Jedi Rocks
[15] Archival bonus track: Sail Barge Assault (alternate)

Disc 2
[1] Parade of the Ewoks
[2] Luke and Leia
[3] Brother and Sister/Father and Son/The Fleet Enters Hyperspace/Heroic Ewok
[4] Emperor’s Throne Room
[5] The Battle of Endor
[6] The Lightsaber/The Ewok Battle
[7] The Battle of Endor II
[8] The Battle of Endor III
[9] Leia’s News/Light of the Force
[10] Victory Celebration/End Title
[11] Source music: Ewok Feast/Part of the Tribe
[12] Archival bonus track: The Forest Battle (Concert Suite)

===================================

I have said it before and I will say it again, never mind how much fan hate it may bring me. The best thing about Star Wars is the music. Whatever their influence on pop culture, visual splendour (at the time), or sentimental value for some people, the movies remain, for me, nothing more than pure – indeed, puerile – escapism. Basically, James Bond in space. Rather charming really, but to take them seriously would be absurd.[1]

The music is another matter. This fine six-disc edition eloquently shows why. It contains the complete music for the first three movies, made long before the saga was bloated out of all proportion, and amply demonstrates why John Williams is a legend among film composers. He has created an astonishing symphonic poem based on the infinite transformation of three or four major themes. (Sometimes I wonder if modern film composers know how much they are indebted to Franz Liszt without whose revolutionary symphonic poems from the 1850s the soundtracks of today would have been unthinkable.) The Star Wars main theme has become more famous than the 20th-Century-Fox fanfare, but it’s much more than a catchy tune; note its miraculous transformation in, say, “The Battle of Yavin”. In addition to epic and heroic stuff like that, there is plenty of delicate beauty and sheer fun. You must be curiously insensitive to music not to be moved by the exquisite loveliness of, say, “The Hologram/Binary Sunset”. And you must be a very sour person, indeed, if the jazzy “Cantina Band” doesn’t bring a smile to your face.

By no means do you have to be a fan of the movies, or even to have seen them at all, to enjoy their soundtracks purely as music. If you are more imaginative in an aural sort of way, you can use the track titles to create your own saga. As you can see from the timings alone, and as usual indeed, a lot more music was composed and recorded than actually used in the movies. The thematic organisation is ingenious and complex; even themes firmly linked with some characters (e.g. Darth Vader and Princess Leia) should not be restricted to them. The music does seem repetitious on extended listening sessions, but it seems rather unjust to accuse John Williams of not being Richard Wagner. Though it remains unclear how much he had to do with the orchestration, this is quite effective and often a source of pleasure on its own. Berlioz, Ravel or Richard Strauss would no doubt have achieved the same, or even better, effects with less overscoring, but that is again missing point.

I do have a few quibbles. One is the sound which is a little too bright and brittle for my taste. I do appreciate clarity and vividness, but when they are hurled into my face I find my enthusiasm diminishing. I do not know how much of this defect was inherent in the master tapes and how much was introduced during the remastering. My other complaint is the conducting of John Williams. It may seem presumptuous to disagree with the composer himself, but music history has taught us that composers are not always the best judges, much less the best performers, of their own works.[2] For example, a somewhat slower tempo in “Throne Room/End Credit” would have brought out better the music’s grandeur.

The presentation is excellent, though. In addition to a fine slipcase, each disc comes in a traditional jewel case and with mini-poster as a booklet. Stills are generously provided as are recording details. One might say with justice that this set is the definitive edition of the soundtracks for the original Star Wars movies.[3] Too bad the action on the screen, like classical ballet on the stage, never really lives up to the music, but we don’t live in a perfect world after all.

_________________________________________________
[1] I am saying all this as somebody who saw, and enjoyed, each of the three original movies several times in the theatre as a kid. Years later I caught the trilogy on TV and prepared myself for a treat. I couldn’t stand even one of the movies, let alone all three of them. After my initial perplexity, I understood what had happened. I had simply grown up.
[2] Even old Ludwig could be a victim of wrong self-judgement, for example when he dismissed his own 32 Variations in C minor and didn’t even give them an opus number. Rachmaninoff was one of the greatest pianist of his time, indeed of all times, but only a very narrow-minded music lover would regard his recordings of his own works, tremendous though they are, as “definitive” or something like that. Those works have continued to be popular and have generated a great variety of interpretations.
[3] However, the original edition from 1997 seems to have included extensive liner notes by Michael Matessino which are regrettably omitted here. If you are a true fan and truly want the force to be with you, you might want to choose the original editions. They don’t seem to have been released as a set, though; which makes getting them harder and costlier. The 2004 set was re-released in 2007 as The Music of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition, but again without Matessino’s notes. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Dec 1, 2016 |
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The full soundtracks to the first three Star Wars movies on three double discs. First released in 1997 (separately), reissued as a set in 2004 and for the 30th anniversary in 2007. Please do not combine with other editions or with separate parts from this one.
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