Symphony of Elements: Interview with Mike Matessino on the ‘Disaster Movie Soundtrack Collection’

An exclusive podcast with soundtrack producer Mike Matessino on his restoration work for the Disaster Movie Soundtrack Collection – Music by John Williams, and the remastered expansions of Monsignor and Minority Report

Hosted by Maurizio Caschetto and Tim Burden

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The DISASTER MOVIE SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION – MUSIC BY JOHN WILLIAMS, is a thrilling, limited edition four disc box set from La-La Land Records containing the remastered and expanded original scores to three classics of the so-called “disaster movie” genre from the 1970s: The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and The Towering Inferno (1974), both from legendary producer Irwin Allen, and Earthquake (1974), produced and directed by Mark Robson, all composed and conducted by John Williams and restored by soundtrack producer Mike Matessino.

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John Williams recording in studio, ca. mid-1970s

The Poseidon Adventure has been remastered from original vault materials for improved sound over the previous releases from Film Score Monthly in 1998, and La-La Land Records in 2010. The score for Ronald Neame’s film, produced by Irwin Allen and starring an all-star cast including Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters and Ernest Borgnine, is one of the first examples of a mature symphonic approach in the composer’s filmography—it’s both dramatic and suspenseful, sporting a bold, imposing main theme that ripples and moves like the troubled oceanic waters that surround the characters of the film. The score was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Score category in 1972.

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The Towering Inferno 2-CD set presentation is the centerpiece of the collection and it’s a major restoration project, the most comprehensive and best-sounding representation of this amazing score to date, previously available on CD only on a long out-of-print release by Film Score Monthly from 2001. It’s probably the largest and most ambitious score Williams wrote before Star Wars—the film directed by John Guillermin and produced again by Irwin Allen was a major blockbuster of that era, sporting a huge cast of Hollywood’s A-list stars (Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Wagner, Richard Chamberlain, and even Fred Astaire). It features an exciting main theme presented in all its brassy glory during main title sequence, but this Academy Award-nominated score is full of Williams’s characteristic symphonic accompaniment, which now can be admired in all its dramatic beauty thanks to Matessino’s superb restoration work.

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Earthquake features a fully remixed and remastered presentation of the 1974 soundtrack album recording originally released by MCA Records, and – for the first time – the world premiere of the original film score recording. The score for Mark Robson’s film starring Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner features both suspenseful orchestral accompaniment and pop-infused source cues in vogue at the time of the film’s production.

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Following the beautiful sets devoted to the music of Superman and Harry Potter, this new box set is yet another lavish release from La-La Land Records, and features stunning artwork by Jim Titus and excellent in-depth liner notes by film music historians Jeff Bond and Jon Burlingame.

After the previous podcast where he discussed Superman: The Movie 40th Anniversary Edition, Mike Matessino returns to talk with The Legacy of John Williams about his work on this new release, but also takes the opportunity to reveal interesting background information about the further restorations of John Williams’ scores released over 2019: a remastered expanded edition of Monsignor (1982) released by Intrada, and La-La Land Records’s remastered edition of Minority Report, a 2-CD set featuring an expanded presentation of John Williams’s score for the 2002 sci-fi thriller classic directed by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise.

Joining us once again is radio presenter/concert producer Tim Burden. So, sit back, relax and enjoy this long and engaging discussion with Mike Matessino about John Williams’s “symphony of elements”.

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Irwin Allen, legendary producer of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, shares a joke with young John Williams during the ‘Poseidon Adventure’ recording sessions (1972)

Order the Disaster Movie Soundtrack Collection – Music by John Williams and Minority Report (Remastered Expanded Edition) on lalalandrecords.com

Monsignor (Expanded Edition) is available on intrada.com

Special thanks to Michael V Gerhard and Matt Verboys of La-La Land Records. And many thanks to Mike Matessino and Tim Burden for their friendship and kind support.

All music excerpts in the podcast used under authorization (promotional use)