Let John Williams bring Vienna (and the movies) to you

Vienna’s Revered Musikverein

We may all be stuck at home wondering when we can visit Vienna, so maybe we should just let the music from Vienna’s Musikverein taper into our living room courtesy of John Williams, the legendary composer, no less.

Wein Musikverein

The Musikverein building, which was opened in 1870, was praised by Eduard Hanslick, Vienna’s most renowned music critic at that time, as a “wonderful harmony of the architecture“. Today, the building is widely regarded by music lovers as the most beautiful concert building in the world.

Inside the Musikverein building is The Große Musikvereinssaal, also named the Goldener Saal because of its opulent decor and colour scheme, with a capacity for audiences of up to 2,000 concertgoers. The Kleine Musikvereinssaal, known as the Brahms Saal since 1937,  can accommodate an audience of almost 600. The former chamber concert hall (Kammersaal) became the Gottfried von Einem Saal in 1996. This is used today for interval refreshments and receptions.

The John Williams in Vienna album, recorded in the celebrated Goldener Saal (or Golden Hall) of the Musikverein, commemorates an ecstatically received visit by John Williams to the Austrian capital in January 2020.

The Golden Hall

This new release has more edgy, exciting and exhilarating music from renown blockbuster and iconic movies. It’s finely programmed to include some softer moments with the reflective “Dartmoor 1912” from “Warhorse” and the gentler “Luke and Leia” from “Star Wars: Return of The Jedi”, tempering the more dramatic music.

The Vienna Philharmonic may seem an unlikely orchestra to be playing this music, but they are highly attuned to the nuances of Williams’ scores, and the orchestral palette is everything one may expect from this renowned ensemble. Together with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, their sound and precision are adaptable and versatile, bringing all their knowledge, experience and skill to the cinematic sound.

Whether it is “The Rebellion is Reborn”, “Imperial March”, “Raiders March” or “Suite from Jaws”, the Vienna Philharmonic has a balance which colors and drives the music with sensitivity. The range of color of strings is kaleidoscopic and the speed at which these players change hues is impressive. The icy harmonics in “Close Encounters of The Third Kind” and the sweeping lines in “Adventures on Earth” from ET, is also an example of orchestral precision and unity.

There’s magic from Vienna in the air throughout this album. Don’t miss it if you can’t make it yet to Vienna.

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