John Williams: Themes and Transcriptions for Piano
Composed By: John Williams
Arranged By: John Willams and Simone Pedroni
Perrformed By: Simone Pedroni
Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I love John Williams. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of movies containing scores created by John Williams and I’ve reviewed even more musical scores for movies I haven’t seen. I’ve always believed that a John Williams score enhances the action, drama and visual essence of a film. You could say that I’ve grown up with John Williams and he happens to be one of my favorite composers. As it turns out, I also happen to enjoy a well-played piano, so it was with delight that I accepted John Williams: Themes and Transcriptions for Piano for review.
An international icon, John Williams has been composing music for television and film since the 1950s. He has created musical scores for such notable directors as George Lucas and Steven Speilberg. He’s spanned the genres from science fiction to action to comedy to drama. In addition to his film and television work, John Williams has also created concertos for specific instruments, chamber music and other orchestral works. He is also an accomplished pianist. John Williams not only created the music found on this compilation album, but he also helped Simone Pedroni arrange it.
Italian pianist and conductor Simone Pedroni is internationally known, having toured the world performing with numerous orchestras, such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and more. In 2015, Pedroni made his conducting debut with LaVerdi Orchestra and Choir performing John Williams’ Star Wars A Musical Journey. The success of the project – five sold out concerts in September 2015 and July 2016 – made Pedroni the perfect man to help translate some of John Williams’ most famous orchestral scores to solo piano.
John Williams: Themes and Transcriptions for Piano features music from a number of films I have enjoyed, such as Presumed Innocent, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Schindler’s List, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It also contains music from The Book Thief, whose original score I reviewed for this site some time ago. As I listened to the 27 tracks found on this album, I marveled at the performances of Pedroni – that man can make a piano sing. I recognized some of the music and even found myself grinning broadly at the sound of Hedwig's Flight, my favorite theme from the Harry Potter films.
Though the piano performances are stellar and the musical arrangements are well-done, I found myself longing for the orchestral versions of these tracks…the ones I have grown to adore over the years. That’s not to say that John Williams: Themes and Transcriptions for Piano is not enjoyable. I just find that the orchestral versions of these tracks are even more so…larger than life as compared to the piano arrangements. Many fans of John Williams will take him however they can get him, but I have to admit, as avid a fan as I am, I wouldn’t spend my hard-earned money on this album. I would prefer to spend it on the original orchestral versions of the compositions instead.