Opera + Classical Music Reviews

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

(Sony Classical) UK release date: 2 May 2005

John Williams - Revenge Of The Sith Not 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 be forced 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 music of the last century, brought up to date with a few surprises.

Anakin’s Dream reveals the mark left by master orchestrators Stravinsky and Britten, even Holst, whose Planets suite can often be detected in the background. The heavy lower strings are pure Williams though, and the whole atmosphere is appropriately mysterious.

Williams remains a thrilling writer of battle music, and gets the chance to flex his muscles in theBattle Of The Heroes, sweeping arpeggios from the strings culminating in a savage D minor chord, as heard on the film’s trailer. The same key provides abase for Anakin Vs Obi-Wan, the lightning brass flashes answered by thunderous percussion, the widescreen potential obvious.

Meanwhile some of the quieter moments have a truly eerie atmosphere. The noise opening Palatino’sTeachings is extraordinary, a kind of low bass voice that could either have been doctored or produced by someone in the grip of a rare throat infection. Either way, it’s very uneasy music!

As you might expect the majority of the music associated with Anakin comes from the same dark side, though often with a tinge of sadness introduced by Williams, who achieves some profoundly elegiac lines from the strings. When the new Darth Vader’s familiar theme appears it has latent power, but often seems unresolved.

The following Immolation Scene invites comparisons with Wagner in the title, but its lush string chords inhabits a more direct harmonic language. Ending with a lengthy perusal of the main themes before the title music, the soundtrack reaches a satisfying conclusion.

A bonus DVD with film extras heightens the desirability of this release, bringing the curtain down on one of the most impressive and inspirational sequences of music spanning well over 25 years. It’s an incredible achievement by Williams, who has managed to provide some spine tingling music, no matter what kind of script he has had to deal with.

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