Scientists say the universe began with a scorching Big Bang, an incinerating
cauldron of all the mass in existence then and now aggressively expanding
to sculpt celestial objects. Now the universe is cooling, still forming,
and many billions of years from today as the
last stars 'die' or turn into black holes they will eventually sweep heat
from existence, plunging the whole of our finite state into absolute zero,
the definitive frigid temperature, until the Big Crunch.
The temporary occasion for humanity to view the wonder and beauty of this
milieu in our already short lives gives emphasis to the focus of J.A.C. Redford's
score for 1991's six-part television docu-series "The Astronomers:" the secrets
of the universe and those dedicated to uncovering them.
Redford uses cello, guitars, saxophones, synthesizers, and woodwinds in
combinations for, as the liner notes by Redford state, "Slavic folk dances
to electronic 'space' music, from jazz to 'classical' chamber music." The
main theme is a simplistic hymn-like melody that brings a fair amount of
heart to the cues... despite being predictable. The closeness of this collection
gives a definite New Age feeling, and while the technical credits are estimable
the ability to appreciate the score depends on one's mood, rather than the
music having the power to swiftly change one's mood as great works tend to
do. The composer's message tackles the musical and emotional approaches by
episode, but does not challenge the intrinsic flaw of having a small ensemble
try to sound big. It depreciates the effect.
The Geminids meteor shower is peaking as this review takes shape, and "The
Astronomers" is playing in the background. The faults fade into a night of
shooting stars. But the astonishment can happen on any clear night. Although
the soundtrack does not function ideally, a key enthusiasm holds interest.
With the right atmospheric conditions, it could soar.