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on November 11, 2012
It saddens me to see there are reviews that try to compare John Williams recent output to that of his past. As a serious orchestral composer, I have watched and listened to him grow artistically in a manner reminiscent to our masters of the past 300 years of music history. He's not going to write music like he did 30 years ago. His orchestration style has become more dense and focused, his melodic lines longer and more complex, his harmonic palette ridiculously advanced. This is master craftsman and our nation's greatest living composer at work. And in LIncoln, those talents are openly displayed. The music is simply breathtaking, beautifully orchestrated and as dense as ever. Yet the clarity of line as of late never ceases to astound the ear. At times I feel Williams channeling Mozart or Ravel. What I mean is that there is a richness and complexity to the music yet every line is crystaline and seems that it inevitably had to sound like this.

The Chicago Symphony plays with precision and sweeping dynamics, reaffirming their status as One of the Five. Easily one the year's best scores. I was particularly stunned with Malice Towards None and it's passionate string lines. Highly recommend this one. Like Waxman, Goldsmith, and Korngold, John Williams' music functions as a strong support or emotional center to the image its written for as well as standing up as serious concert music. A remarkable feat.
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on November 6, 2012
If I could have one wish come true, it would be that I will enjoy this Motion Picture, as much as I enjoy this Music.

I awoke this morning with John Williams' rousing score for "The Cowboys" in my head. That's a beautiful theme and I hadn't hummed it in many months, but knew every note by heart. There hasn't been a day since June 1977 that I haven't had at least one of John Williams' scores playing in my head, or hummed on my lips.

"Lincoln." This is music which should be listened to in the evening hours. In a dimly lit room, shades drawn. With a glass of wine and candles lit, you'll soon fall into an ambiance of love and remembrance, traveling back 148 years to 1864.

Now about Lincoln, the man. We know how the story ends. It's tragic. Lincoln was a tragic figure in American history. A great leader, wise and courageous and a mystery of how he comported himself and sounded in real life. Maestro Williams segregates (forgive the pun) Lincoln in a magnificent aura of haunting melodies to portray the President as a hallowed figure, and a leader who loved America. This is important in fully appreciating this masterful score.

Performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the music is utterly flawless and beautiful. Shawn Murphy has been recording and mixing John Williams' scores for many years, and he deserves much appreciation from Williams' fans when it comes to tweaking digital music to perfection. Thank you, Shawn!

"The People's House" reminded me just a little of some passages from "NIXON" with a fading solo trumpet, however this is all original and different from anything I have heard from Maestro Williams. It is unbelievably new and you will be moved by it.

"Getting Out The Vote" will have you tapping your toes to the beat of this great little fiddle melody. This is wonderfully folksy, you're ears will be grinning from this one.

"The Southern Delegation And The Dream." An incredibly moving and fanciful selection. Nobody does it better than the Maestro.

"The Race To The House." A period-piece, country lively and city robust that makes me want to see the movie.

If there is anything missing in this score (but perfectly understandable) is the scarce use of percussion instruments. In all of the symphonic universe, John Williams is the greatest composer who ever lived to master the use of the percussion section in an orchestra. He must have inherited this from his father. But "Call To Muster" is satisfying in this regard, and the chorus singing "Battle Cry Of Freedom," will make the hair on the back of your neck stand at attention!

Perhaps something else missing which I would have loved to hear, would have been the Chicago Symphony and Chorus, conducted by the Maestro doing "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic," included as a bonus on this CD. Rats.

"With Malice Toward None" (Symphony) and "Freedom's Call." After listening, you'll be proud that you are an American. Incredible music.

"With Malice Toward None" (Piano solo) will touch your heart, and bring visions of a time when this nation was young and needed a leader like Lincoln, to give it a new way of dealing with giving liberty and justice to all.

Perhaps this explains why I woke with the theme for "The Cowboys" in my head this morning. God Bless America and Maestro John Williams!

You'll love this music. :-) Keith Anderson
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on November 7, 2012
After my first listen, I was both moved and disappointed by this score. As an avid Williams fan, I have impossible expectations for America's greatest composer. Each and every time, I expect Williams to create a score that will become entrenched into the annals of great movie soundtracks. He has shown time again he is capable of doing so. That being said, this score is average for Williams. He goes through all of the motions and creates a beautiful score, but its nothing we haven't heard before albeit with a new permutation. William's days of experimenting with new techniques and sounds are over and I have been critical of him as of late.

Between his recent War Horse and Tintin soundtracks, Lincoln is the best. He establishes a signature theme and plays with it effortlessly. I was privileged with being able to see an early screening of the movie and the soundtrack is almost exclusively played softly for a subdued background effect. Unlike the Patriot, which I consider this score to be most similar to, the score is not the focal point. The most powerful moments of the film are times when there is no score being played at all.

The main theme is really only played in the ending credits thus making this soundtrack almost better as a stand alone listen. Overall, I was moved by the score and it truly demonstrates the work of a god amongst men, yet it falls short of my admittedly lofty expectations.
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on December 2, 2012
Everyone knows (and should know) John Williams. Because of his partnerships with George Lucas, Chris Columbus, and the great Steven Spielberg, we are used to hearing extravagant orchestral scores that can't possibly be imagined without the silver screen behind them. However, on Spielberg's new film Lincoln, both the director (Spielberg) and the composer (Mr. Williams) take a new approach.

Lincoln's score is subtle, "felt, not heard" in a sense. Williams demonstrates supreme taste and maturity by tactfully introducing the music at key moments in the film, and adding to its subtle grandeur. Just like in his other scores, the musical themes are synonymous with particular characters or emotions. With that said, the music is absolutely beautiful. You will hear a blend of sweeping Americana in the style of Copland, but also a delicate folk side. It is important to note that Mr. Williams hired music historians that specialized in the Civil War era to help him accomplish an accurate and idiomatic sound.

Another highlight is the fact that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recorded the music. The orchestra lives and breathes like one big soloist. The blend and phrasing is phenomenal. You'll never hear a better brass section than CSO's. Williams uses all the cohorts of the ensemble: militaristic percussion, warm brass choirs, and the light sounds of the woodwind choir. The strings aren't ignored either, and they provide the main emotional framework of the score. The reason Williams hired CSO is because Lincoln was actually from Illinois, and he wanted to pay tribute to this great American figure by using the closest major orchestra.

Lincoln's soundtrack is not nearly as extravagant as E.T., Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Harry Potter, but it contains a beauty that is so subtle that it is to be commended. The more I listen to the soundtrack, the more I appreciate what Mr. Williams has done. 5 stars, hands down.
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on November 15, 2012
Sounding almost as if Williams is channeling Aaron Copland, this is one of the composer's more surprising and subdued works. I cannot say how appropriate it is to the story since I haven't seen the film yet but it certainly makes me more eager to do so. It treats the subject with appropriate respect and gravity without the typical bombast and layers of blasting brass that I associate with Williams's work, particularly when he writes for Spielberg.

Most of the tracks are somber and meditative, and when they lift above that solemn mode it is because the material seems to call for it. The track containing "Battle Cry of Freedom" is astonishing in the way it seems to capture the mood of a time when both sides of the conflict still believed there was something glorious about their cause. What is most appealing, for this listener at least, is the way in which the recorded score coheres as a complete work. Again, the experience is reminiscent of listening to Copland; I like simply putting the disk on and letting it play straight through as I would with a symphony.

If you are a fan of Williams's work, this is a must-have. I'm sure the film will create more interest in his other scores, however this is one of the rare instances when the score may have a life of its own beyond the film (much as Howard Shore's scores for the Tolkien films do--and will).

This music owes much, also, to the scores of the Burns documentaries, in particular the piano stylings of Jacqueline Schwab. It would have been nice to see some acknowledgment of that fact in the liner notes but perhaps those musical treatments have become so much a part of our culture that Williams adapts them without realizing it. Overall, this is a worthwhile purchase and repays repeated listenings as few other Williams scores do.
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on November 14, 2012
John Williams, through film, has made classical music accessible to more people than any other current or previous American composer. I rate John Williams with Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Howard Hanson, Samuel Barber and those others of greatest America composers. Unfortunately, I fear that the popularity of a score (being both memorable and desirable for repeated listenings) is a strike against truly great American composers, as if the greatest of musicality cannot be appreciated by the unlearned masses but rather only by a select few with special musical knowledge and appreciation. John Williams music is that great reflection of what is substantially unique and great about the American flavor of classical music, evoking landscapes as vast and broad as America and the American imagination. I could scarcely believe there is an American alive today who has watched a film scored by John Williams whose appreciation of both film and music has not increased.

John Williams has created a subdued and yet powerful musical landscape for the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln. He has also created I think a soundtrack for the man Abraham Lincoln in the memory of Americans, whether in the pages of Doris Goodwin Kearns "A Team of Rivals" or Carl Sandburg's Lincoln, the Prairie Years and the War Years. The historical film idiom has made the best use of John Williams musical gifts before in his scores for Schindler's List, Amistad, Angela's Ashes and The Patriot as well as other period film pieces. Throughout Williams new score for Lincoln, we find the wit and humor of Lincoln the president and man, the turbulent times of American Civil War, the shadows of the brutal war to end slavery and the great American question which continues unto this day. Before I was even finished listening there were tracks I wanted to go back to and play again and savor. This is John Williams finest work in years from my perspective, the subject being dear to my heart.

BEAUTIFULLY PLAYED, BEAUTIFULLY RECORDED. 5 STARS FOR EVERY TRACK!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon November 6, 2012
John Williams has been scoring Spielberg's films for 40 years, and they have one of the most successful collaborations in filmmaking... Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and most recently War Horse, to name a few. Their history alone is a good enough for buying the "Lincoln" soundtrack, and fortunately it delivers.

Though "Lincoln" is not among the most memorable of Williams musical work, it is still extremely moving. One of the great things about Spielberg's use of music is that it is showy at the right moments, and is more subdued when it needs to be. "Lincoln", a film with a lot of dialogue and is also very much focused on the President's inner turmoil, requires more subdued music. As always, Williams provides exactly what is needed for the film. Normally, a score this subtle and reflective would not necessarily make for good listening out of the context of the film - but the music of "Lincoln" is just so good that it works on it's own. Therefore, I highly recommend this CD.

* I have included some links in the comments section that might be of interest to Williams/Spielberg fans.
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on May 21, 2015
Again, musical tastes are personal. That said, I absolutely love this film score by John Williams.
Composer and conductor John Williams is one of the most prolific and loved musicians and
if you love his other works, you will probably also love this wonderful film score. If in doubt,
go to Amazon.com and listen to the sound tracks and judge for yourself, you won't be
disappointed!
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on April 12, 2013
I don't have any of the musical sophistication of some of the expert reviewers here. I don't have clear defined standards nor the ability to compare one soundtrack from another and draw conclusions about whether an artist has made some fundamental statement or whatever. I just like what I can feel. This is one of the finest soundtracks I've ever heard and what the music conveys to me is a sense of the melancholy and the inner strength that was so much a part of Mr. Lincoln. I also enjoyed the added dimension of "Getting Out the Vote" and the inspiration of "Call the Muster and the Battle Cry of Freedom".

All in all this is some of the very best music I have in my collection. Sonically, the recording does this soundtrack justice with a clear and well-defined soundstage that, at least with my equipment, puts me about in the 3 or 4th row of a concert hall. The sound isn't harsh or immersive. The volume of this recording is just about right for this kind of music.

As the 5 stars I gave this recording indicate, I highly recommend this soundtrack. Frankly, I think John Williams is a national treasure.
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on December 6, 2012
John Towner Williams celebrated his eightieth birthday back in February of 2012. During his long career [one must not forget that during the 1950s and early '60s he was active as a pianist in various jazz groupings. Many of his early recordings, which were released on the Bethlehem and Kapp record labels, are presently available for purchase on amazon]. Later on, he worked as a studio musician, performing the scores of such diverse composers as Daniele Amfitheatrof, Elmer Bernstein, George Duning, Bernard Herrmann, David Raksin and Franz Waxman, among others, on various Hollywood soundtracks. Good training, indeed. Mr Williams' score for "Lincoln" is a noble effort on his part. His music, redolent of the period with a touch of Aaron Copland (to be expected for any film capturing the American spirit) in the employment of diatonic, wide intervals, is memorable. The performance by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of America's finest ensembles, validates the recording.
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