MUSIC REVIEW : John Williams Offers Reruns at the Bowl


‘Tis the time for summer reruns on the tube and sequels on the movie screens. So perhaps one shouldn’t have been shocked that John Williams’ annual Hollywood Bowl gig with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Friday night contained seven numbers that had been heard last year--eight if you count an encore.

That’s seven out of eleven selections--and you couldn’t blame the Philharmonic for sounding more than a bit blase in some of the same old things. The 15,182 on hand, though, didn’t seem to mind a bit. Most of them, at least.

If there is one composer who doesn’t need promoting, it’s John Williams, who, thanks to the movies, is probably the most widely heard symphonic composer of our century. Nevertheless Williams spent Part One surveying selections from his Steven Spielberg film scores, with mixed results.


The orchestra could rattle through the “Raiders” March with panache but had trouble with some of the clever, thorny fugal work in the “Jaws” excerpt. “E.T.” made its usual grandly sentimental points; the March from “1941” swaggered in a slightly raggedy lock-step; the “Close Encounters” suite fared best in its eerie, dissonant, Penderecki-like opening. The only rarity in this greatest hits parade was five minutes of slithering, swampy music from “Sugarland Express,” in which flutist Janet Ferguson sweetly intoned the solo part.

In Part Two, the only new items on the agenda were a lush Sid Ramin-arranged melange of tunes by Victor Young and a “Fiddler on the Roof” suite where Williams seemed to cram in as many hit tunes as possible before giving way to some violinistic fireworks for Sidney Weiss. With clockwork predictability, Williams then swung into his theme from “Star Wars,” followed by the sickly “The Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” a laughably elephantine rendition of the “St. Louis Blues” march, and of course, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”