JOHN WILLIAMS ADAPTS AND RECORDS HIS ICONIC MOVIE THEMES FOR BRAND-NEW ALBUM WITH SUPERSTAR VIOLINIST ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER | ACROSS THE STARS RELEASED ON 30 AUGUST 2019
Legendary film composer John Williams conducts a brand-new album of many of his beloved movie themes in stunning new adaptations written especially for his superstar violinist friend and collaborator Anne-Sophie Mutter. Recorded in Hollywood, Across the Stars will be released on 30 August on Deutsche Grammophon and includes familiar themes from blockbuster films including Star Wars and Harry Potter, as never heard before.
“There is only one John Williams,” says Anne-Sophie Mutter. “What he writes is just extraordinary. Every time I go to one of his films and there is a violin or cello, I think, I would like to play that! And now I have his wonderful translations of all these iconic themes.”
John Williams adds: “Working with Anne-Sophie on this recording has been a pure inspiration. She has brought vibrant life to these familiar themes in new and unexpected ways, which has been a great joy for me as a composer.”
Alongside Mutter as soloist, Williams assembled an extraordinary group of musicians with whom he has worked over the years to form the 70-piece Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles. They recorded over five days in April at the historic Sony Pictures Scoring Stage, where many great film soundtracks of the past were recorded, including The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Singin’ In The Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, E.T. and many more.
John Williams – who has won five Oscars, four Golden Globes, five Emmys and 24 Grammys – explains that for this project he’s revisited themes from many of his existing scores and completely transformed them: “Presented on the violin, they become a different emotional experience.” One example is his newly arranged version of “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter films, which he and Mutter describe as “Harry Potter meets Paginini” and “a Carmen Fantasy for the 21st century”.
The music ranges from Star Wars motifs such as “Yoda’s Theme” from The Empire Strikes Back, “Luke and Leia” from Return of the Jedi and the title track “Across the Stars” from Attack of the Clones, to more recent pieces such as “The Duel” from The Adventures of Tintin and “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha. Listen to the new track HERE.
In addition to the haunting violin melodies from Williams’ Oscar-winning Schindler’s List score, the album features new versions of themes from Cinderella Liberty and Dracula (originally written in the 1970s and rarely performed since then) along with the Irish-flavoured ‘Donnybrook Fair’ from Far and Away and the romantic theme from Sabrina.
Anne-Sophie Mutter, a four-time Grammy winner and widely acclaimed as one of the finest violinists of our time, says it was “a tremendous honour” to work so closely with John Williams – and that the recording conditions for this album were the finest since she collaborated with Herbert von Karajan.
The admiration is mutual as Williams calls Mutter “the greatest violinist that Germany has produced in a hundred years”. Discussing their collaboration on Across the Stars, he notes that her decision to perform “some melodies of mine is very flattering, and a great honour”.
John Williams and Anne-Sophie Mutter were introduced by their mutual friend André Previn nearly a decade ago. It was Previn who encouraged Williams to write for her. Their first musical partnership was Markings (for solo violin, strings and harp), which Mutter premiered in 2017 at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the United States. A year later, she premiered Williams’ new arrangement of “Across the Stars” during Deutsche Grammophon’s 120-year anniversary gala concert in Berlin with Manfred Honeck conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin.
Mutter will perform much of this newly created repertoire in concerts later this year. She will appear with the Boston Pops Orchestra on 7 July at Tanglewood, with John Williams and David Newman sharing conducting duties. Newman and Mutter will reunite on 14 September for another all-Williams concert, this time with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Munich’s Königsplatz, in what will be her first ever open-air concert appearance.
Anne-Sophie Mutter and John Williams both consider Across the Stars to be a milestone recording. Mutter recalls growing up in Germany’s Black Forest and falling in love with the music of Star Wars as a teenager. “These are melodies which touch us so deeply, they just stay with you,” says Mutter. “That’s the wonderful thing about John’s music – even without the film it has a life of its own.”