SABRINA Expanded Soundtrack: Exclusive First Listen

Soundtrack Producer Mike Matessino presents the new 2-CD expanded edition of John Williams’ romantic score, coming May 2 on La-La Land Records

Hosted by Maurizio Caschetto & Tim Burden

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The Legacy of John Williams is happy to host an exclusive preview of the first John Williams‘ archival soundtrack reissue of 2023, courtesy of La-La Land Records: a lavish 2-disc limited release of the Academy Award-nominated score composed by Maestro Williams for the 1995 romantic comedy Sabrina, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear. Assembled, mastered and produced by archival soundtrack specialist Mike Matessino, the new edition offers a wonderfully exhaustive presentation of John Williams’ lush romantic score, remastered from 1st-generation analog tapes and expanded with a great wealth of previously unreleased material, including many unused cues and several alternates.

Greg Kinnear, Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford star in Sabrina © 1995 Paramount Pictures

Based on a play by Samuel Taylor, Sabrina is actually a remake of the beloved 1954 movie bearing the same name directed by Billy Wilder and starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, considered an all-time classic almost since its release. The new version directed by esteemed Hollywood veteran Sydney Pollack gave composer John Williams a great opportunity to write a lyrical score for a character-driven film, enhancing the romance of the fairy tale-like story, the wit of the three main characters and the elegance of the ambience in which the story takes place through some of the most gorgeously romantic writing of his career. The film also offered Williams the chance to write two original songs (titled respectively “(In The) Moonlight” and “How Can I Remember?”) in collaboration with award-winning lyricists/songwriters Alan & Marilyn Bergman, who provided lyrics on several other projects by John Williams before and also for many other top composers including Michel Legrand, Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones. The song “(In the) Moonlight” was recorded for the film by Sting and ended up collecting an Academy Award nomination as Best Original Song.

Sabrina (Julia Ormond) and Linus (Harrison Ford) find romance in Paris during a scene from Sabrina © 1995 Paramount Pictures

Williams’ score also features a great amount of writing for solo instruments: piano is often the key main soloist, carrying by itself the many lyrical tunes that give the score its unique personality. Williams himself performs the piano solo on the track “Theme from Sabrina” (which opened the original 1995 soundtrack album and also starts the program of the new expanded edition), with the rest of the recordings featuring exquisite playing by many of the greatest Los Angeles-based studio pianists: Chet Swiatkowski, Mike Lang, Ralph Grierson, Randy Kerber and Randy Waldman. Other great studio musicians spotlighted throughout with delightful solo work are Dick Nash (trombone), Warren Luening (flugelhorn) and Louise Di Tullio (flute).

Sabrina Fairchild (Julia Ormond) and Linus Larrabee (Harrison Ford) dance in the moonlight in a scene from Sabrina © 1995 Paramount Pictures

In addition to 70+ minutes of his own original music, Williams also curated, conducted and produced the recordings of the many pieces of source music heard on-screen in the various party sequences (the most prominent one is the one at the beginning of the film, located in the lush villa of the Larrarbees). For those scenes, the composer selected a number of classic songs and standards, which were newly arranged (some by Williams himself, others by his regular trusted orchestrators) and recorded with a full orchestra. In addition to that, several instrumental arrangements of the two Williams/Bergmans original songs were recorded, plus a series of piano improvisations of the “(In the) Moonlight” song melody. The songs and the source music are the focus of the second disc on this new expanded edition, with a fascinating “party music” program assembled by Mike Matessino that shows a side of John Williams less known and rarely explored. Rounding out the release are informative, in-depth liner notes by Matessino and elegant artwork and package design by Jim Titus.

A sample of the booklet of Sabrina – Expanded Soundtrack Edition, featuring liner notes by Mike Matessino and artwork by Jim Titus © 2023 La-La Land Records

In this special podcast episode, The Legacy of John Williams is proud to present two exclusive preview tracks from the new expanded edition, with Soundtrack Producer Mike Matessino offering his own precious insight and commentary on the lovely John Williams’ score, how it sits in the composer’s catalogue and chronicling the making of this new archival release.

Sabrina – 2-CD Expanded Soundtrack Limited Edition is coming May 2 on, check their website on release day to discover the full content and the track listing of a classy new release that every admirer of John Williams will want to add immediately to their collection.

Special Thanks to MV Gerhard and Matt Verboys (La-La Land Records) for their kind permission in presenting this preview, and many thanks to Mike Matessino for his continued generosity and support.