boston.com Arts and Entertainment your connection to The Boston Globe
MUSIC REVIEW

Williams is a favorite at Symphony Hall

Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.

A roar of welcome from a sold-out Symphony Hall greeted John Williams Thursday night when he came onstage to conduct the Boston Pops in a program of film music; later a voice cried from the balcony, ''We love you, John." The conductor laureate has led the Pops at Tanglewood every summer, but he has not appeared in Boston for a couple of years.

The evening was full of Williams's own music, but not all of it was as familiar as the inevitable excerpts from ''Star Wars" and two of the ''Harry Potter" films. There was a cheerful little number from ''Empire of the Sun." ''Flight to Neverland" from ''Hook" may not be the most memorable of Williams's flight scenes, but it's better than the movie it came from, and shorter.

Thirty years on, the special effects in the early ''Star Wars" films are beginning to look a little cheesy, but the music is still stirring. It was interesting to hear the sweet ''Anakin's Theme" from the second series, which carries within it the seeds of the sinister ''Imperial March."

The ballet scores of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev are the inspiration for the ''Harry Potter" music. Williams's tunes are good, his orchestration glittering. Introducing ''Hedwig's Theme," Williams joked that he was never sure of the gender of the owl, so he said it was ''his" or ''her" theme.

The soloist spot was filled by a suite from ''Memoirs of a Geisha," music that shows Williams stepping away from his heroic mode to work as a subtle harmonist and colorist. In music written for Yo-Yo Ma, cellist Martha Babcock made sensitive and alluring statements of her own; she was especially effective at suggesting the timbres and attacks of Japanese instruments. Concertmaster Tamara Smirnova was equally assured in the swirls of ''The Chairman's Waltz."

A medley of ''Monsters, Beauties & Heroes" brought music from four historic film scores as well as bits of Williams's ''Jaws" and ''Superman," which by now are historic too. This accompanied an entertaining visual montage of monsters (various Draculas), heroes from Errol Flynn to Lassie, and beauties from Garbo to Julia Roberts. Smirnova shone again in the themes from ''Cinema Paradiso" and David Raksin's ''Laura," and there were tributes to two other major film composers of Williams's youth, Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein.

The official program closed with Williams's ''Olympic Spirit," played to exhilarating clips from Olympic victories, and the unannounced encore was ''Raiders of the Lost Ark," whose opening phrases were greeted with applause of recognition.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives