Offsetting fireworks, BBQ's and other related 4th of July standards, I spent time last night with a brand new Blu-ray celebrating a powerhouse quintet of the peerless Los Angeles Philharmonic, the stunning artistry of conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the virtuoso playing of Itzhak Perlman, that absolutely amazing Walt Disney Concert Hall... and the real reason of the evening: John Williams.
Within seconds of starting the disc, I was in heaven. As Dudamel stepped up to the podium, and the players raised up in position to play, the camera suddenly swooped up towards the balconies to capture the stunning appearance of two amassed rows of U.S. Army herald trumpeters in full regalia, simultaneously launching into the splendid, fortissimo opening bars of "Olympic Fanfare And Theme". That first downbeat was exhilarating! The piece played, the orchestra landed on that final chord with its characteristic "leading tone" and everyone stopped - while the entire hall (and my modest home theater) just reverberated with the sound of major-key splendor. It was magnificent. The orchestra, the players, the hall, the gifts of John Williams all combined. It doesn't get much better.
The 85-minute concert was packed solid with treasures. The premiere of Williams' massive concert work "Soundings", inspired by the Disney Concert Hall itself, Itzhak Perlman bringing tears with "Schindler's List", numerous other highlights... even a few surprises. Yep. A spectacular looking HD video presentation with matching DTS-HD Master Audio in a beautifully-designed slipcase showcasing that incredible hall... a great music lover's fantasy you can experience over and over again at home. This is one Blu-ray you'll want to own.