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John Williams & The Boston Pops Orchestra - A Celebration

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Album Review

Celebration, John Williams' 2012 release on Decca, is a double-disc sampler of his recordings from the 1980s with the Boston Pops Orchestra that also serves as a kind of snapshot album of the conductor and composer. The first disc is entirely devoted to film music, and Williams' popular scores are well-represented by excerpts from Star Wars, E.T., Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Williams shares the limelight with other prolific film composers, notably Max Steiner and Henry Mancini, and the longest track, Pops Salutes the Oscars, is an evocative medley of familiar movie themes, including When You Wish Upon a Star, Moon River, The Way We Were, and The Shadow of Your Smile. For the second CD, Williams turns to the orchestra's repertoire of Broadway hits that have enlivened pops concerts for years. Overtures from Candide and A Chorus Line frame a series of arrangements of songs from musicals and the swing era, such as "Send in the Clowns," "Memory," and "There's No Business Like Show Business," while the closing America Medley by Leonard Bernstein draws on the musicals On the Town and West Side Story. Fans of Williams and the Boston Pops will already know their exuberant playing and entertaining programming, and newcomers will find this package to be a fun introduction.


Formed: July 11, 1885 in Boston, MA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

For year after year, decade after decade, the Boston Pops were one of the most popular orchestras in America. Through concerts, tours, and an endless series of record albums, they brought classical music, marches, and contemporary pop to millions of listeners. Over the course of the 20th century, the orchestra was recorded more than any other. They developed a repertoire that functioned as the de facto American classical and pop lexicon. The Boston Pops were populists, emphasizing melody and texture...
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