John Williams: TreeSong; Violin Concerto; Three pieces from Schindler’s List

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: John Williams
LABELS: DG
WORKS: TreeSong; Violin Concerto; Three pieces from Schindler’s List
PERFORMER: Gil Shaham (violin); Boston SO/John Williams
CATALOGUE NO: 471 326-2
Just as some people found it almost impossible to take Orson Welles seriously after the Carlsberg ads,

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the music for Star Wars casts a long shadow over the career of John Williams. On this CD are two of Williams’s concert works, together with a reminder of his cinema activity in the shape of some tear-jerking schmaltz he wrote for the film Schindler’s List, cut to the saccharine requirements of its director Steven Spielberg.

TreeSong is a pleasantly thoughtful meditation on a tree that Williams has got to know over the years in the Boston Public Garden. Its long mellifluous lines and Nachtmusik atmosphere evoke the spirit of a dream, a sentiment anticipated in the first movement’s title ‘Dreamly’. This may be a misprint or a rather fey neologism: Williams’s comment in the booklet that ‘Standing before the tree one can sense its age and feel its wisdom’ suggests it could be the latter.

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The Violin Concerto is a less rewarding work. Like TreeSong, it draws substantially on Berg and Prokofiev but has little of those composers’ sense of motion and drama. Gil Shaham plays lyrically and gives his all; but all is not always enough. Christopher Wood