|RCA VICTOR 09026-68747-2 (Bookbound)||Composed and Conducted by John Williams|
|Format: 2CD||Produced by John Williams|
|Total Playing Time: 124:27||Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra|
|Date of Purchase: April 10, 1997||Director: Irvin Kershner|
|Cat. No. SC20||Academy Award Nomination|
German Title: Das Imperium schlägt zurück
CD 1 (62:41)
JOHN WILLIAMS STRIKES BACK
Composing the musical score for an outer space epic would seem a daunting task, but in the case of The Empire Strikes Back, the grand scale of the film was only one of John Williams' challenges. The music for Star Wars had ushered in a renaissance of film scoring, earning Williams his third Academy Award©. The record album had become the biggest-selling orchestral soundtrack in history, its success part and parcel of the global phenomenon that had turned Star Wars into the most popular movie in history. For the sequel, Williams had to avoid retreading territory he'd already covered but not stray too far from what had been established and accepted. In his composition, Williams continued to employ the Wagnerian technique of "leitmotif"-the application of distinct thematic material associated with specific characters and storylines. A library of themes had already been developed for the first film-the main Star Wars theme, the Rebel Fanfare, Princess Leia's theme, and the theme associated with Ben Kenobi and the Force. "With that as a basis," the composer explains, "I wanted to try to develop material that would wed with the original and sound like part of an organic whole. So, in the creation of new themes and the handling of the original material, the task, both in concept and instrumentation, was one of extending something that I had written three years before. I had to look back while at the same time begin again and extend." Williams' musical extensions to the evolving Star Wars universe consisted of three major new themes and several recurring motifs, all written, like their predecessors, in the 19th-century Romantic idiom. The most distinct is the Imperial March, a dark, but fun musical depiction of the might of the Empire which serves as a malevolent "Hail to the Chief" for its principal figure, Darth Vader. This is balanced by the benign Yoda's Theme, representing the wisdom of the Jedi Master. These two themes were first unveiled on April 29, 1980, three weeks before the opening of the film, on the occasion of John Williams' first official concert as the new conductor-in-residence of the Boston Pops Orchestra. The third major addition is a love theme associated with Han Solo and Princess Leia, a sweeping melody used throughout the score in a variety of arrangements. Added to this are motifs for the droids, the bounty hunter Boba Fett, and a march for Cloud City and its administrator, Lando Calrissian. Although several elements distinguish the music for The Empire Strikes Back from its earlier sibling-most notably the use of synthesizer and dissonant orchestration-the superb performance of the London Symphony Orchestra remains a constant. Of the 129 musicians contributing to Empire, 72 had also played in the sessions for Star Wars. Between the two projects, Williams had also used the LSO for The Fury, Superman, and Dracula (while Jaws 2 and 1941 were recorded at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood). Recording on Empire began right after Christmas of 1979, with sessions being divided between Anvil Studios, where the first score had been recorded, and EMI Studios at Abbey Road, "We did 18 sessions of three hours each spread over a period of two weeks," Williams discloses. "That's quite a bit of time, but we had two hours of music for the film. In a normal symphonic setting you wouldn't need 18 sessions, but in recording for film you have problems of synchronization that slow down the process, especially in a score for a film so complex as The Empire Strikes Back." As with Star Wars, Williams was supported by the team of recording engineer Eric Tomlinson, orchestrater Herbert Spencer, music editor Kenneth Wannberg, and supervisor Lionel Newman, the head of the 20th Century Fox music department. The Empire Strikes Back was released on Wednesday, May 21, 1980 and, like its predecessor, surpassed the box-office gross of Jaws to find its place Just below Star Wars on the list of all-time popular films. The soundtrack album sold one million copies by the end of August, and the score garnered another Oscar nomination for Williams, who only a year later would be back with the LSO to record the score to Raiders of the Lost Ark while waiting, along with the rest of the world, for the saga to continue. In the meantime, Star Wars and film score enthusiasts were treated to one of John Williams' most diverse and ambitious works for the cinema.
THE SPECIAL EDITION
1997 is the 20th Anniversary of the original Star Wars, marked by the major theatrical release of "Special Edition" versions of the film and its two sequels. Never-before-seen and newly-created footage has been incorporated into all three films, with both picture and sound fully restored and enhanced. Part of this restoration includes new presentations of the John Williams scores on compact disc. The music from The Empire Strikes Back was first released as a 75-minute double LP set on Friday, May 16, 1980, five days before the premiere of the film. Within five years, however, the demise of the vinyl format brought about the reconfiguration of the Empire soundtrack as a bargain item. The first compact disc release, the only one available for many years, reflected this alteration and ran only half the length of the original 2 LP set, an issue further complicated by the existence of re-recordings containing material not available elsewhere. Although the content of the double album was restored for an anthology boxed set in 1993, much of the music has remained unreleased until the 1997 Special Edition made it possible to present the complete score on a 2 CD set for the first time. All the music has been re-mastered for unprecedented clarity, and many of the track titles have been changed from previous releases in order to reflect the chronological story action. It is hoped that the resulting listening experience makes a far away galaxy sound a little closer.
Formal concert suites begin the second disc, with both good CD 2 and evil musically stating their cases. The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme) is the now-famous signature theme for Darth Vader. Its antithesis is the benevolent Yoda's Theme, a piece which embodies the Jedi Master's wisdom and gentility. Underscore returns with the introduction of the element which will make the final chapter of the trilogy possible. For the bounty hunter Boba Fett, in lieu of a fully developed theme, Williams unassumingly presents a low, descending two-note bassoon phrase at the start of Attacking a Star Destroyer as the character is first seen aboard the Executor. Action music returns as the Millennium Falcon is pursued by the Avenger, finally emerging from the asteroid field. The hyperdrive still unresponsive, Han turns the ship on his attacker, inexplicably disappearing from Imperial scanners seconds later. Returning to Dagobah with a subtle statement of Yoda's theme, Luke is training with Yoda, but loses concentration when R2-D2 informs him that the X-wing has sunk to the bottom of the swamp. Yoda and the Force underscores Luke's failed attempt to raise it. A brief synthesizer is heard, followed by the main theme and then the Force theme as Yoda counsels Luke. Yoda's theme then begins quietly, and swells to a glorious climax as the Jedi Master demonstrates the full power of the Force. Vader's theme is heard as the action returns to the Executor. Imperial Starfleet Deployed begins with Vader's theme again as the Dark Lord issues commands after executing the captain of the Avenger. The Millennium Falcon is then revealed attached to the side of the Star Destroyer as another bold statement of Vader's theme is heard. After checking the data banks for a safe nearby port, City in the Clouds begins as Han skillfully detaches the ship and floats away with the warship's garbage flow. The love theme is used here, followed by the Boba Fett bassoon motif as the bounty hunter witnesses the careful maneuver. Back on Dagobah, the Force theme is heard as Luke is overcome by a vision of his friends in jeopardy. Yoda's theme is played with high strings, accompanied by various chimes and celeste, as Luke tells his vision to Yoda, who advises his pupil to not act in haste. A soaring, exotic sound is introduced as the Falcon arrives at the planet Bespin. Angelic women's voices are heard over the first images of Cloud City, the orchestra quieting as the ship is escorted to a landing platform and Han's old friend Lando Calrissian appears. Lando's Palace introduces a cosmopolitan march as Han, Leia, and Chewie are greeted, which turns suddenly sinister when inquisitive Threepio makes a wrong turn and is blown apart by an unseen assailant. On Dagobah, Luke has decided to abandon his training and go to his friends. Luke's, Ben's, and Yoda's themes are interwoven as the Jedi Master and the spectre of Kenobi implore Luke to reconsider, Vader's theme also appears, indicating the threat of the dark side that awaits Luke at Bespin. As Luke lifts off, promising to return, the Force theme reaches a crescendo, ending quietly with cello. Betrayal at Bespin follows immediately with a lofty version of Luke's theme as the X-wing fighter returns to outer space. The love theme is played during a scene at Cloud City in which Leia is worried about the missing C-3PO, whose pieces are found by Chewbacca a moment later. Lando's march returns as the administrator escorts Han, Leia, and Chewie to dinner. This time the melody is punctuated by the Rebel Fanfare. As the door to the dining hall opens, Lando's trap is sprung. Darth Vader stands in greeting, stormtroopers surround the group, and Boba Fett enters, scored again with the bassoon motif. Luke's theme is heard as the young Rebel is seen in his X-wing, zooming towards Bespin. The droid motif occurs during a short scene in a Cloud City prison cell in which Chewbacca reactivates C-3PO, ending with a threatening statement of the Imperial theme as Vader begins torturing Solo. Deal with the Dark Lord begins with Vader's theme, followed by a rising brass motif which occurs throughout the cue. The droid motif returns as it becomes apparent that Chewbacca, attempting to put the droid together, has placed C-3PO's head on backwards. The rising horn reappears, leading to the love theme as Leia comforts Han after they are returned to the cell. The tension builds when Lando enters, trying to explain his actions, but Han strikes him. The cue ends with the rising horn and an ominous statement of the love theme. Carbon Freeze begins an extended musical sequence which leads to the film's climax. The main theme is passed from trumpet to flute to horn as Luke approaches Cloud City. The Imperial theme takes over as the Rebels are brought into the chamber where Darth Vader plans to freeze Luke for transport to the Emperor after testing the process on Han Solo. The love theme is featured throughout the piece, swelling to operatic proportions as Han and Leia kiss goodbye and Han is lowered into the carbon chamber. Brass and pounding percussion play over the freezing of Solo, ending with a powerful rendition of Vader's theme. This is followed by atonal strings, piccolo, and horn in a short passage written for the raising of the carbonite block, which was later rescored with the dramatic rendition of the love theme that follows it. Descending horn phrases underscore Lando's announcement that Han has survived the process. The effigy is then turned over to Boba Fett for delivery to Jabba the Hutt. Rhythmic phrases, punctuated by the Imperial theme, round out the scene as Vader alters his bargain with Lando, deciding to take Leia and Chewbacca as his own prisoners. Quiet strings continue the rhythm as Luke arrives and Darth Vader's Trap begins. An ascending horn and wind motif is heard as Luke spots Boba Fett and the carbonite block. The shootout as he gives chase is scored with Yoda's theme. Piano, percussion, and cello are used to create tension before Yoda's theme builds to a climax, then quiets as Luke enters a dark alcove. Atonal strings and percussion are heard as Luke is brought into the carbon freezing chamber and Vader appears. The ascending horn phrase is heard again as Luke confronts the Dark Lord and draws his lightsaber, the duel beginning. Meanwhile, the earlier rhythmic phrase returns in Departure of Boba Fett, which begins when Lando's men overtake the stormtroopers, freeing Leia and Chewie. The ascending horn motif is played once again as Boba Fett loads the carbonite block into his ship, the Slave I. An urgent version of the love theme is heard as Leia, Lando, Chewie, and the droids race to the landing platform to save Han, only to glimpse the bounty hunter's ship lifting off. The latter part of the cue is unused music for the continuation of the lightsaber duel. Vader's theme is used as Luke is pushed backward into the freezing pit, with the Force theme and Yoda's theme returning triumphantly as Luke escapes, retrieves his fallen lightsaber, finally overpowering Vader, who falls off the platform. The cue ends with Luke's theme as the young Jedi pursues the Dark Lord. Clash of Lightsabers accompanies the next phase of the duel, in which Vader uses the Force to hurl objects at his opponent. A grand statement of the Imperial theme is heard as Luke is overwhelmed, plummeting through a window into the reactor shaft. Miraculously grabbing hold of a suspended gantry, Luke pulls himself to safety. The action cuts to Leia and Lando, exchanging fire with stormtroopers and making their way to the Millennium Falcon. Yoda's theme is used, followed by a brief reprise of the Cloud City march. A brass rendition of the love theme then enters, the tension building as R2-D2 attempts to open the blast door leading to landing platform 327. After a brass section interlude, the theme reaches a climax, now punctuated by ascending trumpet phrases, as the door is opened and the Rebels board the ship, which lifts off moments later. Rescue from Cloud City marks the end of the lightsaber duel, with Vader severing Luke's right hand. Dissonant strings underscore Vader's plea to Luke, with his startling revelation highlighted by a dramatic rendition of the Imperial theme. The music reaches operatic proportions as Luke refuses to join Vader, allowing himself to fall down the reactor shaft and into an exhaust tube. The young Rebel's long descent leaves him hanging on a weather vane beneath the city, the full orchestra conveying his desperation and pain. With help from Ben not possible, he calls out to Leia, and the Force theme is heard as the Princess senses Luke's danger. Chewie turns the Falcon back towards the city. A moment later, Luke is spotted, and the music reaches new dramatic heights as Chewie carefully guides the Falcon and Lando pulls the injured Luke in through a topside hatch just as three Imperial fighters close on them. Hyperspace is a fast-pulsed, constantly modulating action cue that follows the Falcon away from Bespin and into the clutches of Vader's Star Destroyer. Princess Leia's theme is interwoven as she is reunited with Luke The rhythm is broken by the Imperial theme as a tractor beam is prepared aboard the Executor, then picks up again with the droid motif as R2-D2 reveals that the Falcon's hyperdrive has been deactivated by the Empire. Innovative orchestration is applied to the Imperial theme as Vader contacts Luke telepathicallv, again pleading with him to turn to the dark side of the Force. The rhythmic pulse returns and finally builds to a triumphant resolution as R2-D2 reactivates the hyperdrive, allowing the Falcon to escape to lightspeed. The piece ends with Vader's theme, as the temporarily defeated Dark Lord exits the bridge. The final scene of the film takes place at The Rebel Fleet. Dramatically and musically, the resolution is the opposite of the first film's "Throne Room" Finale, which used a triumphant version of the Force theme. Here, as Lando and Chewie say farewell to Leia and Luke as they leave to track down Boba Fett, a melancholy rendition is heard. With Luke's hand replaced by a prosthetic, he joins Leia at the viewport to watch the Falcon's departure. With Han's fate still a mystery, the scene ends with the love theme as Luke and Leia think of their friend and ponder their futures. The crash of the End Title leads to Luke's theme, the Rebel Fanfare, and into a presentation of the three new themes for the film - Yoda's theme, the Imperial March, and the love theme. The score ends with a final statement of the Rebel Fanfare, followed by four punctuated crashes - the first notes of Darth Vader's theme - before the brass and timpani point the way to a fulfilling conclusion.
- MICHAEL MATESSINO