MUSIC REVIEW : Williams Fills the Bowl With Scores of Variety


Nothing is guaranteed, but some names apparently have the ability to fill colisea, auditoria, arenas, amphitheaters and smaller halls. Among composers with that ability, especially but not exclusively at Hollywood Bowl, are Beethoven and John Williams.

Williams, in person, again filled the Bowl Friday and Saturday to its legal capacity of 17,979, and certainly seemed to please those happy listeners, at least on Friday.

And why not? The composer-conductor and his widely admired music for films--written in three and a half enormously successful decades--have long been fixtures at this amphitheater. Furthermore, Williams’ catalogue of scores--each with its own personality, but all highly accomplished in the areas of melody, evocativeness and technical skill--offers a genuine variety from which to choose.

In 1994, those excerpted scores included “The Cowboys,” “The Reivers,” “Star Wars,” and a raft of Steven Spielberg-directed films: “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Jurassic Park,” “Always,” “Schindler’s List” and “E. T.” At the beginning, there was the “Olympic Fanfare” from 1984.


In all this music, the Los Angeles Philharmonic gave Williams its consistent alertness and virtuosity. Not all these scores received the virtually immaculate playing heard in the “Reivers” music--wherein veteran actor Burgess Meredith read with aplomb the Faulkner narration he originated in the 1969 film. But mechanical glitches in the orchestra still remained infrequent.

The sold-out and loudly approving audience on Friday gave the 86-year-old Meredith a standing ovation. It later cheered violinist Mark Baranov, concertmaster of the weekend, who delivered both of the “Schindler’s List” solos with poignancy and resplendent tone. Also taking a bow was William Lane, who played the important horn solo in the “Always” excerpt.