To me, one of the best things about the movies is the vast variety of themes that composers have created over the years. From Max Steiner’s “Tara Theme” of Gone With the Wind to “The Flying Theme” from E.T., composer/conductor John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra take us on a musical journey spanning nearly four decades in Aisle Seat.
Of the 10 themes presented in this Philips CD, three were composed by Williams. Two are famous in the Williams repertoire -- “The Flying Theme” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark March” -- but they were still relatively new when this album was first released 21 years ago. The third Williams composition is “If We Were In Love,” a romantic theme from Yes, Giorgio, a forgotten (and forgettable) movie starring Luciano Pavarotti. No matter…even if the movie flopped, the theme survived. It’s sweet and sweeping, almost operatic, yet you can hum it -- if nothing else, great movie music often is catchy and easy on the ears.
The other composers featured in Aisle Seat include Harold Arlen (“Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz), Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire”), John Kander (“Main Theme” from New York, New York), Nacio Herb Brown (“Main Title” from Singing in the Rain), Dmitri Tiomkin (“Main Theme” from Friendly Persuasion), and Ralph Blaine & Hugh Edward Martin (“The Trolley Song” from Meet Me In St. Louis).
As always, the Boston Pops Orchestra performs each piece with the appropriate styling for each era. I like the mix of relatively contemporary themes (when I owned the cassette version of this CD the Williams and Vangelis pieces were still relative newcomers) and classic “Old Hollywood” standards. Particularly poignant is Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow,” evoking memories of a young Judy Garland. Indeed, don’t be surprised if you see mental images of Gene Kelly, Harrison Ford, or a certain long-limbed extraterrestrial being flashing in your mind’s eye as you listen to this album.