John Williams and Steven Spielberg, "The Ultimate Collection" (Sony, Three discs plus DVD)
No, I don't think that the collaboration of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams is the finest in the history of movies. What Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone did together and what Hitchcock did with Bernard Herrmann supercedes by good measure the virtual artistic marriage of Williams and Spielberg, dedicated and beloved as it has long been.
Has there ever been such a collaboration more faithful? Has any such collaboration ever produced music as instantly recognizable as the music from "Jaws," "E.T.," "Jurassic Park," "Schindler's List?" What distinguishes this wonderful box of music is its completeness. It goes back to Williams' music to Spielberg's "Sugarland Express" and "Jaws" and is as current as Williams' Coplandian music for "Lincoln" and right up through "The BFG," Spielberg's likable adaptation of the favorite children's book of Roald Dahl.
In any collection of film music as large as this it is always the music that is able to stand completely apart from the films that impresses the most. Some surprises there include "Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from 'Catch Me If You Can' " and the Celtic gush of the music for Spielberg's most John Fordian film "War Horse."
The DVD accompanying this box is Laurent Bouzereau's documentary film "Steven Spielberg and John Williams: The Adventure Continues." It is because of Spielberg that John Williams became the first Hollywood film composer to receive the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. Their artistic marriage is phenomenal. But listen to this in quantity and you know that what will survive will be only a small fraction -- and none of it as stunning as what Morricone and Herrmann created.
3 stars (out of four)