Classical and Opera Reviews

John Williams – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith OST

(Classical) UK release date: 2 May 2005


John Williams - Revenge Of The SithNot only does Revenge Of The Sith mark the final instalment of George Lucas’ Star Wars epic, it also signs off an extraordinary body of work from John Williams, the big daddy of film composers. While even the most die hard of Star Wars viewers might beforced to admit that the series has been more shaky in its new guise, few would disagree Williams has kept a high pedigree with the music he has provided.

For starters, there’s the exhilarating main theme, one of the most instantly recognisable pieces of music around and still sounding fresh and vital in its 21st century guise. What follows is a score revealing Williams’ closest influences from the classical musicof the last century, brought up to date with a fewsurprises.

Anakin’s Dream reveals the mark left by masterorchestrators Stravinsky and Britten, even Holst,whose Planets suite can often be detected in thebackground. The heavy lower strings are pure Williamsthough, and the whole atmosphere is appropriatelymysterious.

Williams remains a thrilling writer of battlemusic, and gets the chance to flex his muscles in theBattle Of The Heroes, sweeping arpeggios from thestrings culminating in a savage D minor chord, asheard on the film’s trailer. The same key provides abase for Anakin Vs Obi-Wan, the lightning brassflashes answered by thunderous percussion, thewidescreen potential obvious.

Meanwhile some of the quieter moments have a trulyeerie atmosphere. The noise opening Palatino’sTeachings is extraordinary, a kind of low bass voicethat could either have been doctored or produced bysomeone in the grip of a rare throat infection. Eitherway, it’s very uneasy music!

As you might expect the majority of the musicassociated with Anakin comes from the same dark side,though often with a tinge of sadness introduced byWilliams, who achieves some profoundly elegiac linesfrom the strings. When the new Darth Vader’s familiartheme appears it has latent power, but often seemsunresolved.

The following Immolation Scene invites comparisonswith Wagner in the title, but its lush string chordsinhabit a more direct harmonic language. Ending with alengthy perusal of the main themes before the titlemusic, the soundtrack reaches a satisfyingconclusion.

A bonus DVD with film extras heightens thedesirability of this release, bringing the curtaindown on one of the most impressive and inspirationalsequences of music spanning well over 25 years. It’san incredible achievement by Williams, who has managedto provide some spine tingling music, no matter whatkind of script he has had to deal with.


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John Williams – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith OST


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