MUSIC FROM THE STAR WARS SAGA: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION / COMPOSER: JOHN WILLIAMS / PERFORMERS: THE SLOVAK NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA / LABEL: MUSIC ON VINYL/AT THE MOVIES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In 1983, Varèse Sarabande released The Star Wars Trilogy, a compilation LP of music from the first three George Lucas Stars Wars films, featuring Varujan Kojian conducting the Utah Symphony Orchestra. In the intervening decades, it's gone nearly gold, and that's because despite being a collection of re-recorded pieces, it was for the longest time the perfect primer for fans of Star Wars who wanted all the best and most familiar music in one convenient spot. Despite all that excellence, it wasn't perfect - there was no The Throne Room/End Title from A New Hope, for instance - and it's limited to the length of a single vinyl LP.
Happily, Sony Music and Music On Vinyl released this amazing double LP on blue vinyl, just after The Rise of Skywalker left cinemas. Music from the Star Wars Saga: The Essential Collection rounds up music from the original trilogy, the prequels, and the most recent collection of sequels. It sticks purely to John Williams' work on those nine films, and doesn't featuring either Rogue One or Solo. That said, the music on these two LPs tries to be as judicious as possible in terms of where it’s sourced. Every film is represented, with most films getting a couple tracks, although The Empire Strikes Back gets a solid four pieces, with Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith only getting one each.
Conducted by Robert Ziegler, the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and members of the Slovak Philharmonic Choir acquit themselves nicely in these renditions of much-beloved, well-known pieces. While they're all a little heavier on the brass than the originals, it's quite a delight to have a collection that includes both the Phantom Menace's Duel of the Fates and The Asteroid Field from The Empire Strikes Back on a single LP, much less in one collection. While not quite as robustly full as the original recordings, as a primer on the music of the ‘Skywalker saga’, as the films are now collectively known, it's aces.
Sadly, there's no music from The Rise of Skywalker, which would've readily catapulted this into triple LP territory. It would've been nice to have had Battle of the Resistance, if for no other reason than that would've given some time to Poe's theme, but the gleeful action of The Speeder Chase would've also livened things up. Additionally, either Reunion or A New Home would've wrapped things up nicely, with the latter bringing things full circle back to Tatooine, where the films started so many years ago.
The double LP is packaged in a gatefold sleeve, which is refractive, letting the light play off the planetary images thereon. The pictures are fairly generic outer space ones, and even the typeface is only vaguely Star Wars-like, making this definitively not an official tie-in. It's close enough, though, and the music itself is what it's all about.