Collection: The Best of Star Trek Vol 2.
GNP Crescendo GNPD 8061
Its pretty much impossible to critically respond to the famous (perhaps
even infamous) Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage. It has become
indelibly etched upon our consciousness. But the brief reprise that
opens this second volume of cues from the vast Trek universe actually reveals
it to be a rather dated piece. And if the truth is told, although I dearly
love the original series, I never was particularly fond of it.
Still, putting that aside, I have always remembered the incidental music
far more fondly. It managed to be as distinctive as the series itself and
perfectly augmented the dramatic intrigue and excitement that would reliably
unfold each week. Here we are treated to suites from three classic episodes,
The Corbomite Maneuver, Balance of Terror and What are Little
Girls Made of, all written by series regular Fred Steiner.
If one were going to be at all critical, you might say that despite the fact
that we have three distinct episodes represented, the music for each is somewhat
similar. Of course this is understandable (and perhaps even warranted) as
we are dealing with a continuing saga. The music from both The Corbomite
Maneuver and Balance of Terror is very much the darkly atmospheric,
at times slightly Herrmannesuqe music that any Trek fan will instantly recognise.
However, What are Little Girls Made of is the more varied of the three,
with a quieter passage to begin with before a notable dramatic action motif
is heard, one that served the series superbly on many occasions throughout
its long run. In all three suites there is plenty to enjoy and admire and
Fred Steiners name should be recorded as a crucial factor in the overall
strength of the original Trek. His music always added weight and tension
to the proceedings. This section concludes with a bizarre lounge version
of the series main theme and though it may appeal to die-hard fans, it really
only has curiosity value at best.
Dennis McCarthys Theme from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
(version used in series four), is for me the weakest of all the various spin-off
themes. Its an adequate brass led, rather stately piece that creates
little sense of anticipation. Thankfully his suite from the Deep Space
Nine episode Way of the Warrior is a little more worthwhile, with
action cues such as Yo! and Worf II having a brooding
quality that is welcome, utilising plenty of brass and percussion. However,
the somewhat self-indulgent rendition of Fever (from the episode
His Way) sung by series regular Nana Visitor, is only for those
who either deeply admire the actress or the song itself.
Jerry Goldsmiths main theme from Star Trek: Voyager is of a
much higher calibre. This is a hopeful, noble melody that is far more
introspective than his more famous theme from both Star Trek: The Motion
Picture and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
David Bells score for the Voyager episode Bride of Chaotica
is a pastiche of the kind of music used in matinee space serials such as
Flash Gordon and the composer certainly captures perfectly the required
flavour. My only concern would be that while this is a clever gimmick, ultimately
it struggles to transcend that very fact. We can admire the technical
accomplishment and possibly even be amused by the references, but finally
we are only left with the music itself. Fortunately it is reasonably creative
and as long as you are not adverse to the obviously dated style, its
Jerry Goldsmiths Theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season
2) was, as already mentioned, originally written for the first spin-off
feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In some ways I think this
piece has suffered from over familiarity. While it worked quite well in the
film, once I was asked to listen to it week in week out to open The Next
Generation series, I have to admit I began to get a little tired of it.
Also I have always winced at the editing on the series version, as I feel
the piece as originally conceived by Goldsmith for The Motion Picture
flows far better. Once the producers decided to use a truncated version it
became rather less effective.
After this, Dennis McCathy delivers a suite from the Next Generation
series finale All Good Things. Actually I feel rather disappointed
that the under used and under appreciated Ron Jones, who scored several notable
Next Generation episodes, was not chosen as the series main composer
rather than McCarthy. Jones music was in my opinion far more inventive and
distinctive. However the powers that be favoured McCarthys safer, more
traditional scoring, of which this suite is a good representation. Certainly
the music here strongly conjures in the mind the essence of Star Trek:
The Next Generation and as I consider it to be a very fine series indeed,
that obviously cannot be a bad thing!
For fans of Trek this is a must. But for those who have thus far resisted
the allure of Kirk, Picard, Janeway and the rest of the gang, this is a solidly
entertaining musical introduction :
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