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Episode 1 The Phantom Menace
Released: 1999, Lucasfilm Ltd / Sony Classical
Music by John Williams
I'm sure when you read the heading you all thought, "Has this guy lost his mind? This is supposed to be a METAL site!!!". Yes, it's still a metal site, but since a lot of metal is influenced by classical music and so many of us love Star Wars, I didn't think reviewing this disc would be inappropriate. But if you're not a fan of either, I suggest you move on to the next review.
I was introduced to the Star Wars universe as a wee lad of five when my aunt and uncle gave me Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca action figures for my birthday, unwittingly triggering the genesis of an obsession which has lasted for twenty-two years. An obsession which has shown no sign of diminishing. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn't get to see Episode IV: A New Hope during it's initial release. It wasn't until SEVEN YEARS LATER, when it aired on local television (We didn't have cable back then and the video revolution was still in its infancy.) that I finally saw it. A small part of me still harbors resentment toward my parents for not taking me to see it. (At least they were nice enough to take me to see The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, otherwise I'd probably still be in therapy.)
Once again, George Lucas has created a brilliant sci-fi epic. And once again, John Williams has composed a brilliant score to accompany it, each piece perfectly setting the tone of the scenes. The disc starts with the now legendary Star Wars theme and then moves into "The Arrival at Naboo". Track two (and my personal favorite), "Duel of the Fates", which according to an interview I saw with Mr. Williams, was inspired by an old poem called "Trees". It was also the music which, if I remember correctly (Hey... I've only seen the movie twice!!!), set the stage for the climactic Jedi battle between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the evil (but totally cool) Darth Maul. Actually, most of my favorite pieces on this disc are the ones associated with the villains and battle sequences. "The Sith Spacecraft and The Droid Battle" and "The Droid Invasion and The Appearance of Darth Maul" more than adequately convey a feeling of darkness and impending danger.
The performance of the London Symphony Orchestra is absolutely astounding. Then again, could you expect anything less from a world renowned group? Stellar performances as well from the London Voices and New London Children's Choir whose contributions greatly added to tracks such as "The Swim to Otoh Gunga", "Passage Through the Planet Core", and the aforementioned "Duel of the Fates."
So if you appreciate good classical music and/or love the Star Wars saga as much as I do, then this may be of interest to you. Of course, the absolute best way to enjoy this soundtrack is by watching the movie, but until it's released on video (I'm buying it on DVD) this is the only way to hear it. May the force be with you...
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