The Very Best of John Williams ~ Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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When you think of a movie theme, which composer springs to mind? For me, it’s always the infamous and incredibly talented John Williams. With credits ranging from the fear-inducing theme tune to ‘Jaws’ to the magical journey that is ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ from ‘Harry Potter’ films, this spectacular evening of instrumental wonder (presented by Raymond Gubbay) was not to be missed.

Conducted by the ever popular Anthony Inglis, who has the ability to build a connection with his audience not too dissimilar to the orchestra he is leading, we were treated to a selection of some of Williams’ well-known work and some lesser thought of, too. The London Concert Orchestra was in fine fettle, stunning vibrato from the strings, a solid brass section and particularly notable woodwind players. Of course not forgetting percussion, drums and the inimitable sound from the harpist, who all contributed to perfection.

Selecting highlights from the evening is an almost impossible task, I am a fan of many of the movies on the play list, I feel I must applaud Shelagh Sutherland (Pianist) for the hairs standing up on the back of my neck when the opening notes of the Harry Potter Suite were played. The leader of the Orchestra and exceedingly capable first violinist, Paul Willey provided another ‘hair raising’ moment when he turned his hand so beautifully to the Schindler’s List theme. As a violinist myself, I have personal experience of that score and I always feel that the muted sound adds an additional haunting dimension to the piece.

With Star Wars, Jurassic Park and E.T. delighting the full house at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, it was little wonder that an encore was demanded. All I will say of the chosen encore piece is that we quickly discovered that Anthony Inglis is a super hero! I can’t possibly give away his secrets, though…

This particular concert finished in Birmingham after a previous performance at Barbican Centre, London, however you can keep up to date with news of forthcoming concerts by accessing the following website http://www.raymondgubbay.co.uk .

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