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Williams: American Journey Soundtrack

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Soundtrack, January 15, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

American Journey - Winter Olympics 2002 [Audio CD] Williams, John

Amazon.com

Anchored by his Mormon Tabernacle-charged "Call of Champions" (theme of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games) and the sweeping, emotionally rich six-part title suite (originally written for Washington, D.C.'s millennium celebrations and appearing here for the first time as a complete concert piece), this rousing, unabashedly patriotic collection from John Williams seems doubly timely, given America's hunger for comforting affirmation. Those who criticize the scale of Williams's music for its lack of irony will find little here to dissuade them, save perhaps "For New York," his deft, surprisingly low-key arrangement of appropriate Leonard Bernstein themes, and the comparatively subdued harmonic/melodic sophistication of "Song for World Peace." But this is largely music of ceremony and celebration--its scale and frequently martial rhythms are a direct function of purpose and intent. The collection's notes foster the notion of Williams as America's contemporary Sousa, but that's a comparison that sells the composer woefully short. Even "Sound the Bells," a piece written for the Japanese royal wedding, eschews any efforts at ethnic "authenticity," paying its tribute in distinctly American terms. "The Mission Theme" (from NBC News) and the Coplandesque bonus track "Summon the Heroes" (from the 1996 Olympics) further underscore the iconic intent of Williams's work. Chiding this collection for lack of subtlety is like complaining that fireworks are too spectacular. --Jerry McCulley
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Product Details

  • Performer: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Orchestra: Boston Pops, Utah Symphony
  • Conductor: John Williams
  • Composer: John Williams
  • Audio CD (January 15, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Soundtrack
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 61 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005UN9G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,352 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John F. Hennecke on February 6, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Most CD's have a few very good pieces with the remainder of the pieces being rather unmemorable. As I began listening to the first track--the new Olympic Theme--I found it to be an equal to Williams' earlier Olympic works, which is no small feat. But as each succeeding track unfolded, I found each one to be an extraordinary work--there was no letdown--just incredible Williams' magic. This is not the soft melodic Williams of Schindler's List, this is the rousing Williams of the Star Wars Trilogy. Threads of his other works like The Patriot, Far and Away, The Phantom Menace, and Home Alone can be discerned entertwining with his new themes. Even the oft-recorded Mission Theme and Summon the Heroes are not out of place, but rather add a touch of the familiar to spectacular new recordings. If you like John Williams, you won't be disappointed with American Journey.
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By A Customer on January 15, 2002
Format: Audio CD
WOW! This is a great CD! I think this will go down as one of Williams best. Some (and this is just some) of the hightlights are Calling of the Champions, which has a beautiful theme with Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing on it, American Journey: Civil Rights and Women's Movement which is probably the best song on the whole CD, and Summon the Heroes. As I said these are just some of the highlights of the CD. If you're a Williams fan pick up this CD, you won't be disappointed.
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Format: Audio CD
John Williams' lofty and soaring American Journey provided the perfect backdrop to the Winter 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City -- Olympics that many in the world wondered would ever be held in the wake of the September 11 events.
The most powerful piece of this CD is the anthem "Call of the Champions". This powerful composition clearly transcends mere Olympic grandeur. The ethereal orchestral score -- with the powerful contrapunctal use of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir -- calls to mind the overwhelming rush of emotions many in the world have felt in recent months. It is a celebration of the indominatability of the human spirit. Some few pieces exceed its triumphal grandeur -- Ode to Joy comes to mind -- but very few indeed.
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Format: Audio CD
Everyone is familiar with John Williams, composer of great film scores, and most Americans probably know that he did a stint as conductor of the Boston Pops, but how many are aware that he is also a composer of classical-style music? In the liner notes to this CD we are told that he has "a profound sense of purpose" as a composer, and tries to write "uplifting compositions." At last I know why his music has always thrilled me so, ever since STAR WARS!
I bought this CD because I saw the bonus track, "Summon the Heroes" (the theme for the '96 Atlanta Olympics), listed on the back. But the rest of the contents are equally as fine. "Call of the Champions," the theme for the 2002 Winter Games, features a soaring chorus by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, repeating the motto of the founder of the modern Olympics, "Citius! Altius! Fortius! [Swifter! Higher! Stronger!]" The next six tracks, "American Journey," are a musical overview of the social and technological advances of 20th Century America, with a distinctly Grofean mood to them. "For New York" is recognizably what its subtitle says, "Variations on Themes of Leonard Bernstein." "Celebrate Discovery" echoes with brasses and definitely sounds celebratory. Even the "Song for World Peace" (Track 8) ends on a distinctly non-wimpy note. Then there's the "Mission Theme," whose first few notes sound every night on NBC Nightly News--it's nice to finally hear the whole thing!
If you want your spirits lifted, if you need to get into the mood to write something triumphant, or if you have some particularly great accomplishment in your family to celebrate, this is definitely the CD to put on the turntable.
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Format: Audio CD
That marvelous maestro of melodious masterpieces, John Williams, has done it again! Triumphant, rousing, majestic and inspirational are just a sample of the words that come to mind when describing this splendid piece of music, a piece of music that matches--if not transcends--the glory of the Olympic Games.
While the entire CD is truly magnificent, I found the title piece, "Call of the Champions"(The Official Theme of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games) to be the most awesome of the 15 tracks. In "Call of the Champions", John Williams' composing/conducting prowess is perfectly complemented by the Utah Symphony Orchestra and a choral arrangement for the venerable and world renowned Morman Tabernacle Choir. Listening to this almost ethereal harmony of orchestra and chorus is nothing less than sonic ecstacy. The 14 other tracks (including Williams' "Summon the Heroes", a piece originally written for the '96 summer games) are like a delightful bonus!
"American Jouney" is the perfect ode to the Olympic games, as well as a tribute to the American spirit. I am reminded of the three words sung by the Morman Tabernicle Choir in "Call of the Champions" when describing this classical triumph: Citius, Altius, Fortius--swifter, higher, stronger!
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Format: Audio CD
The first song is all you need to hear to know this is Americana and that we are the greatest nation in the world. Well at least that is the sense I get from it. This will become as much a classic as the theme he wrote for the 1984 Summer Games in LA, you know the one of which I speak. The one that NBC now likes to use during every olympics. I am no Mormon either, but they have one heck of a choir.
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