I have for a fair amount of time looked at the name of Alan Williams on the internet and caught snatches of his music for film and television, this week a package came through the letter box which contained no less than five compact discs of this composers music, courtesy of Mr Williams himself. I decided the best thing to do was to review this double compact disc called THE CINEMA COLLECTION first, good start I think as it contains numerous pieces that showcase the obvious talent and dexterity and diversity of this composer. This is a collection of themes and other cues from a over 50 movies scored by Alan Williams, the discs are slotted into categories or genres i.e. Disc one contains ADVENTURE, ROMANCE, ACTION and MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE, disc two has categories or sections labelled FAMILY, DRAMA,COMEDY and WORLD. The thing that strikes one immediately when first hearing Alan Williams music and I am not talking of any track in particular, is that it is not only well structured and extremely well orchestrated and constructed but it is also stunningly beautiful, emotive and above all powerful. The 11 cues in the opening ADVENTURE category are in themselves inspiring and grandiose with an atmosphere of vastness, unknown, passion and exploration being conveyed within each track. I was particularly attracted to KILIMANJARO, this is a haunting and commanding work composed for large orchestra that includes sweeping strings, triumphant brass, African sounding choir and percussion that combine to create a proud yet humble sounding theme, after the cues impressive and attention grabbing opening, the atmosphere shifts to a somewhat more subdued mode, with layered strings being accompanied by delicate use of woods underlined by percussion briefly, with the strings being left to take the composition to its conclusion in a slow and passive fashion. I don’t like to compare when reviewing but I suppose it’s the best way I can let fellow collectors what sort of sound Alan Williams creates, shall we say he evokes for me memories of the likes of Bill Conti, James Horner, James Newton Howard, Lee Holdridge, John Barry and at times Elmer Bernstein, he fashions highly listenable themes with haunting and attractive central cores and builds upon these to develop amazing, outstanding and rewarding compositions.
The section labelled ROMANCE is a treat to listen to, the accent being on the string section in sensitive overdrive swelling strings that rise and fall are enhanced by crashing cymbals and faraway sounding almost Barry-esque brass in track number 12, MEMORIES, then we have a solo piano embellished with melancholy sounding woods on track 13, THE LOVE OF A PRINCESS, both of which are underlined by strings which eventually take on the central theme and give it a full working. Skipping to the ACTION category now, and the opening theme HOSTAGE is a fast paced work, that is tense edge of the seat material, again written for traditional orchestra, the composer puts to effective using frenzied strings backed by brass to create a anxious and stress filled composition. The MYSTERY AND SUSPENCE section opens with a wind swept sounding theme entitled DANGEROUS, which after its fairly lively opening soon switches to a more low key affair, which oozes menace in a kind of melodic way, the composer utilising solo piano, woods and strings to bring this to fruition. To review this compact disc on a track by track basis would end up with an article of mammoth length, as there is just so much music included on this two disc set, this collection is certainly the best way to become acquainted with the music of Alan Williams, and includes some of the most melodic, dramatic and atmospheric music I have heard that has been written for film