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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen and the Music Will Tell You All You Need to Know...
This is a soundtrack that reaches out and grabs one's soul at the first listening; in a very good way it is so very different than most of the music produced for film(s) in recent years: this is music that soars even without having the benefit of the film's imagery to support it - this is the craft of a master-composer in his medium.

John Williams has crafted a...
Published on November 21, 2011 by AbinadiWitness

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars looks like i need to see the movie.
John Williams makes such pretty music. I figured to use it to decide whether to see the movie. I guess I will see the movie.
Published 22 months ago by Rol Lett


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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen and the Music Will Tell You All You Need to Know..., November 21, 2011
This review is from: War Horse (MP3 Music)
This is a soundtrack that reaches out and grabs one's soul at the first listening; in a very good way it is so very different than most of the music produced for film(s) in recent years: this is music that soars even without having the benefit of the film's imagery to support it - this is the craft of a master-composer in his medium.

John Williams has crafted a score that captures the spirit of this area of the world very well; the orchestrations are so very rich and sweepingly beautiful when describing the pastoral scenes of the Dartmoor area in World War I times, including the use of ethnically specific melodic ideas throughout the score. Soon the lush strings transition into the looming threat of war and John Williams provides us with multiple solid action cues that put the listener right in the battle's fray in ever-increasing intensity until the pounding fury of "No Man's Land" shatters the ominous stillness that precedes it, though we never travel too far away from the beauiful string texture that really characterizes this work as we taste the horrors of war and feel the triumph of the spirit through it all.

Most of this soundtrack is purely beautiful, simply-stirring music that soars from the media-source into the soul; but one is definitely exposed to the tension and terror of the war and its effect upon the land and people involved in this tale.

There are moments of lightness, thrilling action, and beauty and tenderness such as I have not heard in a soundtrack in years.

This is a soundtrack for people who love powerful music - this is not an "only buy if you're a fan of John Williams" score, this is sincerely passionate and soulful music which everyone should treat themselves to.

Recommended without reservation!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-rounded, emotional musical experience, December 15, 2011
This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
I first became a real John Williams fan in 2005, which is probably the worst time I could have done so because starting that year, he would be taking a 6 year hiatus from film scoring, aside from doing one sequel score for Indiana Jones and Crystal Skull. That's why I've been eagerly anticipating his scores for War Horse and Adventures of Tintin ever since they were announced, and I'm so happy to say that these scores do not disappoint. At the age of 79 and after several years of retirement from his usual level of film scoring, Williams can still weave his trademark magic into his music. Amazing.

"War Horse" isn't the type of action or fantasy-type score that I became a fan of Williams for, but I still found it a thoroughly enjoyable musical experience. Although I haven't seen the film yet and don't know too much about the plot, I can tell the album really tells a heartfelt story with music alone, and at times, I started to recognize and fall in love with musical motifs or sound qualities the same way I would do with characters in a movie (and the track titles also gave me some clues as to what was going on in the real story).

The first track "Dartmoor, 1912" starts off with a mysterious-sounding, winding flute solo that quickly gives way to a lush string melody. By the end of the track, the brass section jumps in, and this sets the tone for most of the first half of the soundtrack. A couple of the score's major themes are also introduced. One of them is usually played in the low strings strings and makes quick, successive jumps up the octave until it reaches the high strings. The next theme is immediately introduced and is played by woodwinds, and Williams frequently reuses it in other tracks by itself or through counterpoint.

The gorgeous music heard in the trailer for the movie is heard in full on track 3 and serves as another major theme for the score. It's easy for Williams to reference it frequently, just using the simple three-note rising progression.

Track #5 "Seeding, and Horse vs. Car" is exhilarating and probably one of my favorites on the albums. It steadily builds to a triumphant climax in the last minute, providing exciting statements of the major themes already set in place. I'm sure it will be mixed prominently in the film and will serve the scene very well.

The album makes a tone shift around track #6, and especially in track #8 "The Charge and Capture" with a lonely, ominous trumpet solo. This gives way to a ripping snare rhythm and dissonant brass drones. The latter half of the soundtrack features many tracks that sound like they will be exciting action cues for the album. One of the highlights from this section is track #11 "Pulling the Cannon", featuring dramatic high strings, brass, and percussion.

The story seems to start wrapping up in track #14 "Reunion", where the flowing string theme from track #3 makes a return and just about melted my heart. It's mixed to be more somber (or maybe it just seemed that way to me because of the music that had preceeded it) and it's absolutely poignant in its effects on the listener.The theme is played again in the track by horns, and then violins, and I imagine people in the film's audience will be shedding happy tears by this point.

What good words haven't I already used about this music? Track #15 "Remembering Emilie, and Finale" is a beautiful finale, but it's not even a finale...the best track on the album is #16 and nothing could have prepared me for it. Just as I thought I was finishing up the soundtrack, it turns out track #16 "The Homecoming" is an 8-minute long epic track of high quality classical writing. It's like a self-contained piece on its own, that borrows the thematic material that's been developed over the course of the soundtrack, and reminds me of the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams. I think "The Homecoming" could easily serve as a concertpiece for an ensemble wanting to perform the music of "War Horse."

Overall, I found the soundtrack to "War Horse" to be an emotionally powerful musical experience. The album tells a story and has all the trademarks of Williams' best writing. It's worth the full listen for those reasons.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Williams is back with elegance and style, November 21, 2011
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This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
War Horse is a gorgeous score and a mesmerizing listen. Intricate and beautifully crafted music with echoes of Vaughan Williams and Walton. Deftly orchestrated as always. So nice to have new music by one of the greatest living American composers. As a fellow composer working in Los Angeles, I can say there are few like him. There are moments in this score which harken back to Far and Away as well as earlier works such as Born on the Fourth of July and The Reivers. The harmonic and melodic surprises never cease to amaze me. Highly recommended to anyone craving a MUSICAL experience rather than the current trend of bland, ambient whole-notes permeating the film world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The rhythm of the horse, January 11, 2012
By 
Jon Broxton (Thousand Oaks, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
A variation on the classic Black Beauty tale about of the life of a heroic horse, filtered through the cinematic lens of director John Ford, War Horse is director Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the well-regarded novel by Michael Morpurgo about the adventures of a horse named Joey during World War I. The action moves from rural Devon, where young Joey is raised as a plow horse by Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) to work on his father's farm, to the battlefields of central Europe after he is sold to the British Army upon the outbreak of war and is adopted by a kindly cavalry officer as his personal mount. Moving from adventure to adventure, Joey makes his way through the mire of The Great War, serving on both sides of the conflict - and all the while young Albert, now himself serving in the trenches, never gives up hope of being reunited with his equine friend. The film co-stars Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, and of course has a score by the venerable John Williams, his second score of 2011 after several years away from the podium.

In his liner notes for the album, Steven Spielberg talks about the beauty of the score, and about the "earth speaking through" Williams, emerging as music, and this really is the case. There is a real sense of a connection with nature in Williams' score, in much the same way as there is in the classical work of Ralph Vauhgn-Williams, a solidness and a trustworthiness, allowing Williams to give the horse, his friendship with Albert, and the overarching spectre of war a profound and potent musical voice. There are hints of his score for Jane Eyre from 1970 in some of the orchestrations, which clearly allude to Williams's musical depiction of the English countryside, as well as nods and winks to pieces as varied as Far and Away and Born on the Fourth of July.

Much like The Adventures of Tintin earlier in the year, there is no single strong thematic identity in War Horse, which instead chooses to develop three or four primary motifs as the score progresses, often playing against each other in counterpoint in the same cue, before receiving larger-scale statements later. Beginning with a pastoral, inviting theme for the lush Devon setting in the opening cue, "Dartmoor 1912", the music gradually emerges from a delicate, flighty flute solo into a warm and enveloping string refrain of the first theme, which seems to represent the tranquil location of the film's opening reel. The theme is classic Williams, with all the positive connotations that implies, and grounds the score in a sound which is period-appropriate and emotionally powerful.

Eventually, this theme gives way to the score's "proper" main theme, which represents the enduring relationship between Albert and Joey, and the bond they share. With its vaguely Irish-sounding melody, prominent horn countermelody, and a grand sweep, the score's most emotionally poignant moments tend to feature this theme prominently; it appears on hesitant flutes in "Bringing Joey Home and Bonding", with a more forceful string presence in "Learning the Call", with a sense of freedom and whimsy in "Horse vs. Car", and with a sense of relief and accomplishment in the superbly cathartic and emotionally fulfilling "Plowing". There's also a jig-like dance motif which seems to represent Joey's cleverness and mischievousness, which builds around a call-and-response structure between violins and cellos, and features prominently in parts of "The Auction", at the beginning of "Bringing Joey Home and Bonding", and in "Learning the Call". In fact, much of the score's first third is built around these three themes - the Dartmoor theme, the Friendship theme, and Joey's mischievous motif - representing the two driving forces in the lives of both man and horse: their relationships with each other, and their mutual relationship to the land.

Things change with the onset of war, however, and the music changes too, with "Ruined Crop and Going to War" taking the music in a much more serious direction. Lonely brass layers and militaristic snare drum writing, which will remind some listeners of the similar-sounding parts of Born on the Fourth of July, reflect the solemnity and tragedy of war, and the hardships suffered by every one, on both sides of the conflict, both human and animal. The action music in cues such as "The Charge and Capture", and later in the superb "The Desertion" and the relentless "No Man's Land", is rhythmic and propulsive, mimicking a horse's galloping stride in the percussion section, but adding in multiple layers of orchestral dissonances, cavalry-charge horn calls and flutter-tongued trumpet lines to excellent effect. Cleverly, "No Man's Land" also manages to include a re-orchestrated, almost unrecognizable variation of the Dartmoor motif for heroic horns - Joey's final, desperate push for home. The four note `misery of war' motif reoccurs frequently in subsequent cues, notably the harsh and anguished "Pulling the Cannon" (parts of which recall the darker moments of Revenge of the Sith, especially in the phrasings in the trumpets), as well as the devastatingly tragedy-laden "The Death of Topthorn".

However, as in all good stories, redemption comes in the finale, and the last three cues on the album - "The Reunion", "Remembering Emilie and Finale" and "The Homecoming" - see Williams return to the poignant thematic writing of the score's first third, with the emotional content turned up to the max. Stirring and powerful statements of both the Dartmoor theme and the Friendship theme give War Horse a majestic musical conclusion, and stand as some of the most beautiful pieces of heartwarming sentiment Williams has written for many years. Gloria Cheng's piano performance in "Remembering Emilie" is simply sublime, and worthy of special praise.

Hearing scores like War Horse, and The Adventures of Tintin earlier in the year, gives the film music world a reminder of why John Williams is held in such high esteem. Contrary to accusations in the mainstream press of his music being passé, pushy and over-wrought, I personally find Williams' work here to be amongst the best of the year. He provides Joey - who is, obviously, incapable of conveying human emotion - with a voice and a heart, and allows the film to tell the story of his life with scope, grandeur and an epic sweep, but which is also not afraid to convey a sense of intimacy when required. It also shows Williams to be a master dramatist, expertly pushing the audience's buttons in all the right places with a score that is beautiful to the ear, intellectually stimulating to the brain through its thematic complexity and narrative flow, and stirring to the soul.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Perfect Score by John Williams, November 21, 2011
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This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
This is a beautiful soundtrack, and is one of the best Spielberg/Williams collaborations yet. I am really excited for the movie, and if the score is any indication we are in for a very emotional journey. Typically when I review a film score, I pick out a few of my favorite tracks. But with this, I would list the entire soundtrack! Every track is just perfect, and I recommend listening to the complete score all the way through.

If you have seen the trailer for War Horse (and loved the music as I did), the music used is similar to Track 14 - "The Reunion".

Also, check out Williams' other great score from this year: The Adventures of Tintin

It's been 17 years since Williams won his last Oscar for Schindler's List. Perhaps it is time he takes the stage once again to claim the golden statue, because War Horse is by far my favorite film score of the year!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Christmas present!, December 26, 2011
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This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
What could be better than one new John Williams score for the holidays? Two - of course! Thank you, Maestro, for "War Horse" & "The Adventures of Tintin" I fell in love with this music by watching the trailer over-n-over. The cd does not disappoint, hope the picture is worthy, Mr. Spielberg.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen with all your heart, December 14, 2011
By 
Storylover (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
John Williams is perhaps the most relentlessly creative, relentlessly talented film composer of the last 25 years, and that is saying a lot, as there are a number of very fine composers working in the genre today. What sets Williams apart is to use his chosen idiom--lushly romantic writing--and make it sound fresh over and over again. You know what you are going to get with a John Williams soundtrack: memorable but non-saccharine melodies, perfectly orchestrated, and true and fascinating development of themes. He taps into emotion as if plugging into the power plant of the heart, connecting us directly to the characters. His music stands alone as pure music as well, functioning as a carefully crafted tone poem. War Horse is all these things--stirring, beautiful, heartfelt music. When I listen to this score, it is immediately apparent that this is a Williams score in the finest sense of the word--it immediately sucks you in, wraps you up in this beautiful sound world, touches your intellect, your heart, and your soul, and makes you want to hear it again. It is hard to believe that so much good music has been written by one man, but here it is as proof. If you love Williams, then check out his Tintin score as well--also released around this same time. You will be amazed at the variety in the two scores, both of which are absolutely wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, Melodramatic Music. One of John Williams Best This Decade!, December 7, 2011
This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
What can be said that hasn't already been said? Any fan of film scores, not just John Williams, should have this score. I cannot wait to see how the music fits with the movie. The tracks Dartmoor 1912, Plowing, The Reunion, Remembering Emilie/Final (that piano solo!!!), and The Homecoming are well worth the price of this CD alone and stand as some of the best compositions John Williams has composed this decade. Between War Horse and Tintin, Williams has made a magnificent return to film scoring this year!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Williams Returns with "War Horse", January 5, 2012
By 
G M. Stathis (cedar city, utah USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" reaches a gorgeous, nearly overwhelming, climax that film critic Roger Ebert insists is an homage to the great John Ford, and this is almost certainly true. Strangely, however, Ford would have had qualms about one of the fundamental aspects of this film and all of the collaborations of Spielberg and John Williams. Save for a song or two, Ford was not a fan of music, especially orchestral scores, for films, though most of his great efforts were well served by them. The collaborations of Spielberg and Williams have almost always produced scores that have proved special, and some that were truly great. Williams' music for "War Horse" fits in the latter category. Opening with pastoral themes that echo the work of Ralph Vaughn Williams, this score travels the full spectrum of emotions from peace-time to war, and then to fulfilling reunion and redemption. This is an amazing film, and William's score is a vital part of it, as is usually the case with this collaboration, which works on the screen and the soundtrack album. Getting on in age, Williams' scores have become rare these days, but with Williams/Spielberg collaboration, "The Adventures of Tin Tin" (a good deal of fun), the wait has been worthwhile. Expertly produced and nicely packaged by Sony (in both cases).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of pure orchestral beauty!, January 2, 2012
This review is from: War Horse (Audio CD)
The unparalleled collaboration between Steven Spielberg and John Williams has culminated various cinematic masterpieces over the past forty years; War Horse is no exception. Williams' score digs into the very fabric of the screen and breathes life into each and every scene with careful musical craftsmanship. The album is a perfect fusion of triumphant themes and yearning emotional undertones that scream out in a way that you can hardly describe. His orchestrations compliment Spielberg's masterful direction in such an emotionally impactful manner that you cannot help but truly care for the story and the characters that it cradles.
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War Horse
War Horse by John Williams (Audio CD - 2011)
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